Slavery was a ruthless and dreadful way of life for all slaves. Yet there were differences in rank between slaves. Minor class slaves were “field slaves”. Superior class slaves were “house slaves”.
The daily routines of these slaves differed to a great extent. Field slaves only function was production. Their duties were to plant and cultivate the crops, clear the land, flame the undergrowth, roll the wood, split rails, transport water, restore fences, spread fertilizer, and break the soil. Working since sunrise to sunset was purely and analogy for slave labor, they regularly worked before sunrise and considerably past dusk.
A house slave every day routine incorporated helping for the house, the gardens and yard, prepared meals, caring for children of their master. Although there were ranks in the slavery system, it did not really benefit the slaves in the hours they had to work and the punishment they had to suffer. Taking a filed slave for example they had to work eighteen hour a day regardless the weather outcome, never have the proper clothing or sometime no clothes at all.
The pregnant women were expected to work until their children were born. When the child was born the mother often took the baby to the fields with her when it came to nutrition, most of the field slaves were malnourish which had cause diseases and most of the time death among them. Slave in the field were mostly, severely punishment due to their treatment and environment when they failed to do their job.
Their punishments were consisting on whipping and there was no safety even for woman and children. Especially in large plantation the law provided no protection for slave. The overseers would continuously push them to work harder if it wasn’t satisfied of their effort, the salve were whipped. Their condition of living was very poor.
As for education, it was illegal to teach a slave on how to read and write if being caught teaching the slaves this person would be imprisoned or ran out of town. The differences that existed in these two ranks weren’t bigger differences. The real differences were the house slaves sometime will get some education from their master, eat better and dress better than the field slave.
However there was some disadvantage of being house slaves, especially on the women slave who were defenselessness to their masters. The masters would sexually abuse those woman slaves as they wished and there was nothing the slave could do about it. Taking for example the story of Incidents in the Life of Slave Girl, How Linda Brent said, “Slavery is terrible for men, but is far more terrible for women.”(283) it is to show how mentally slavery took a much larger tool on the suffering of women.
Furthermore the house slaves had to deal with the fact that no matter how much better they made them think they were treated, they were still remain slaves and would live a life of enslavement. Event Lewis Clarke believed that some house slaves were worse off than field slaves: “There were four house-slaves in this family, including myself, and though we had not, in all respects, so hard work as the field hands, yet in many things our condition was much worse.
We were constantly exposed to the whims and passions of every member of the family; from the least to the greatest their anger was wreaked upon us. Nor was our life an easy one, in the hours of our toil or in the amount of labor performed.
We were always required to sit up until all the family had retired; then we must be up at early dawn in summer, and before day in winter.”(Spartacus Educational) Additionally the slave working in the house were more under supervision than those working in the field, On a field there were hundreds of working slave to one supervisor, where as the house there were a few slaves opposed to the slave owner’s entire household, which could include extended family.
It was certain that house slaves and field slaves cope at times, and at some other times they didn’t. They were both still slaves, and still had to undergo exhausting work whether in the house or on the field. Any time one group thought that another group was getting something that they weren’t getting tensions often rise.
The field slaves were mindful of the better treatment such as the cultural and travel opportunities, and educational opportunities that house slaves received. This normally caused tension with field slaves and house slaves because field slaves felt it was biased. According to some African literature books the classification of these two classes were created base on physical appearance and skin color.
The more the skin completion of the slave favor the master the likely it would be for this slave to be a house slave, and the darker skin complexion of the slave would classify them to be a field slave. History show that slavery on those ranks was in both genders it wasn’t a sense of discrimination against the slave.
After all slaves were treated equally, it was a way that the institution was design to control the slave. Overall slavery was about the same for both of those classes when viewing it in labor and suffering ways. Both the field slave and the house slave were treated on very inhuman ways. Anybody who loses their dignity and freedom will feel like they would have nothing to live for.