In her book Moses Man of the Mountain, published in 1939 (during the turbulent times of the African- American civil rights movement),Zora N. Hurston retells the biblical story of Moses drawing parallels between the story of Exodus, and African American history of enslavement. In addition to the character, another thing the author has borrowed from the Bible is the main literary device used - allegory. Through allegory, Hurston expresses her ideas on topics such as cultural and racial origins, the perception of freedom and slavery, and the movement within the social structure. Taking a closer look at these topics we can see that they are interconnected; ultimately defining freedom. So what is freedom? There might be several differing answers to this question depending on the point of view. Freedom is defined by the social position and the mindset of the individual. In Moses, Man of the Mountain, the slaves do not really know, and are not capable of understanding the meaning of freedom, although it is what they are striving for. Freedom is relative - seen from the perspectives of the liberator, the tyrant (oppressor) and the slave (oppressed), it has different value and meaning. However, in order to attain freedom as a social characteristic, the Israelites must first attain it on a mental level.
Freedom seen from the perspective of the Israelites;
Israelites from the biblical concept were the people chosen by God. During the time of Abraham God had prophesied that they would be taken to exile due to the sins that they would commit. As they serve as slaves they struggled to come out of the land of bondage; hence, they had to undergo a lot of torture. In novel Moses, Man of the Mountain, Hurston tried to explore theme such s race, religion, freedom, and class. Through the story the enslave Israelites search for freedom and loss of cultures emerges as the major issues. The Israelites are portrayed as a downtrodden race that suffers brutalities from their master, the Egyptians. They do not enjoys freedoms such as the freedom of worship and expression. To them freedom would mean being able to worship their God whom they believed without any restrictions. However, they were forced to worship the Egyptian Gods and follow the Egyptian way of life. If they refuse, they killed. Indeed, this is concept resonates well with the challenges that the slaves in America experienced they too were not allowed the freedom and right to worship. As such, they started revolution demanding to be liberated.
Moreover, the Israelites were disarmed and denied the rights to become the citizens of Egypt; therefore, they remained as slaves. In fact, their position deteriorated from one rule to the next. At the beginning when Joseph was one of the key leaders in Egypt, they enjoyed their stay. However, after his death the subsequent regime did not recognize them hence subjecting them to harsh treatment and denying them their basic rights. They had no comfort since they were butchered and buttered by the merciless Egyptian soldiers. As such, they needed a way to quit and look for freedom. Indeed, freedom from Israelites perspective involves freedom from hunger and harsh treatment, freedom from murder and freedom to worship their God, Yahweh.
Freedom seen from the perspective of the Egyptians;
The Egyptians were the oppressors and they viewed the concept of freedom from a different perspective from the Israelites. To them allowing the Israelites would mean a big loose to them since they will not get people to work for them in their household and garden. Therefore, the Egyptians did not allow the Israelites to leave easily. It was after God used ten plaques to enable the pharaoh, the Egyptian king to allow them to leave. Even after leaving them, he stilled followed them behind with a big army to get them back. However, he did not succeed since the God of Israelites; Yahweh miraculously assisted them to cross the red sea while the Egyptian army was drowned. To the Egyptian freedom for the Israelites was a loss to them. Based on this story, the African American and the native European had the same experience. They former did not want to grant the slaves their freedom since they knew they would lose many profits since nobody would work for them in their household and big plantations. The king of Egypt knew the importance of labor that Israelites provided hence refused freeing them. As a matter fact, as the oppressor, he makes them work tirelessly as a way to repay their long stay in Egypt. It can be learnt that the oppressor would not allow the oppressed freedom since they will lose all the goodies that they use to enjoy from them.
Freedom seen from the perspective of the leader- Moses
Leaders are important people during a struggle to freedom since they view it from a different perspective. According to the book Moses, Man of the Mountain, Freedom as Relative Concept the author, portrayed mosses as the leader who through the help of God guided the Israelites out of the land of bondage. He was a very interesting character and his life was unique. He was adopted by pharaoh daughter hence became his grandson. Moreover, he became a military guard after which he started to plead for more humane treatment for the Israelites. He went to extent of killing an Egyptian guard who mistreated an Israelite, which made him to escape after rumors went about. On his hiding place, he received God call to go and deliver the Israelites from the hands of Egyptians. In fact, the role appeared difficult for him since he knew he was being searched for killing an Egyptian soldier. As a leader he became, he was a clever politician who was care not to intimidate pharaoh. According to mosses, freedom was sought through dialogue and force was the last resort. At the begging he humbly as pharaoh to allow the Israelites leave but he was stubborn. After three visit, God through mosses brought different plaques to compel pharaoh allow the Israelites to leave. Moreover, freedom mosses as a leader involves justice and that why he killed the Egyptian soldier who senselessly beat an Israelites. He underwent through a lot of problems with the people of Israelites has led them to the land of freedom. The people were sturbon and did not hid to the instruction he gave them. Therefore, according to mosses as a learder, it seems that freedom was a difficult thing to keep hold of physically,mentally. Spiritually and politically. He struggled all through the entire journey the land of freedom which he did not reach to ensure that he convinced people that freedom was hard won and needed a constant effort. Moreover, freedom means resisting and denying the ideas of slavery. In fact, freedom is a an interesting concept since it is not permanent like a rock, but it is like a manner that you need to keep on gathering. In fact, by depicting mosses as a beleaguered leader and dismayed observer of the mumbling, rumbling mob, Hurston seems to suggest that the main obstacle on the road to freedom was short sightedness of the Israelites. Moreover, as mosses pondered his role of liberation he was not sure if he would succeed. He realized that no mab would make another man free. Besides freedom was something internal and the outward signs and symbols of the person inside.
In conclusion, the book Moses, Man of the Mountain
Freedom as Relative Concept by Zora Neale Hurston clearly depicts theme about freedom and racial subjugation of the African American. It does this through narrating the story of mosses in the bible who delivered the israilites who were slaves in the land of Egypt. From the allegry, the perspective of freedom and racial subjugation is seen from different angles such as the oppressed, oppressor and the leader. It is apparent that all these groups viewed freedom from a diferent angle. To the oppressed, freedom is about delivery them from harsh treatment. On the same note, to the oppressors, freedom is about denying them the goodies and opportunities that the slaves provided. In addditiom, the leaders, see struggle for freedom as hard won aand people should be convinced to accept that.
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