Why do you think Cornelius chose the fate that he did for Clarissa's son? What other options did he have, and why do you think he discounted them?
Join Date: 10/11/10
Join Date: 04/21/11
Join Date: 04/14/11
Under the circumstances and at that time in history I think he did the best thing possible. He could have given the child to one of the slaves and had him raised as their own. He provided for the child. When I learned the "rest of the story" about the child's parentage, I found it interesting that it was a boy. I wonder what Cornelius would have done had it been a girl.
Join Date: 07/28/11
Join Date: 07/11/13
Join Date: 01/16/12
Again, I was shocked as I never guessed that Isaac was the child's father. Talk about double standards! At the time it was accepted that slave masters had children with their negro concubines but a black male would be hung for having intercourse with a white woman. I would like to say that Cornelius did what he did to protect Clarissa's reputation but that wasn't the case. He wrote Clarissa off and refused to come to her aid. He got rid of the baby to save his own reputation. Despicable.
Join Date: 10/16/10
I was actually a bit puzzled as to why Cornelius chose to have the baby well cared for. He had obviously disowned the child's mother to the point of willingly allowing Clarissa to die. I'd have thought he could have sold the child very easily, or sold him, and then washed his hands of the whole situation.
Join Date: 07/30/13
Boy did I have a powerful hate on for this guy! Talk about a double standard! He had absolutely no consideration or compassion for blacks but he'd have sex with them quick enough! He sold his daughter into a different kind of "slavery" just as quickly. Then when the apple didn't fall far from the tree he allowed her to die? He deserved everything he got in the end
Join Date: 05/07/13
This is a good question and difficult to answer. As Clarissa lay dying, I thought his drinking was the result of his guilt or shame that happened as a result of Clarissa's behavior. On the other hand, his neighbors respected him; he had the power to appoint a district judge; his plantation was hugely successful. Throughout the book he was a decisive character not one who would drink himself to death. Was it because the child was half black and it looked like Emmeline's child? On Page 205, Cornelius screams at Theodora, "Why do you need to know?" ... "Don't be an idiot. with him gone, that Cromwell moron has no evidence. If he had any sense, he would have kept Clarissa and the bastard." His character was so despicable at that point; Theodora had turned against him, "She [Emmeline] is a better person than you are." Maybe the author just decided to give him some humanity.
Join Date: 10/16/10
The one thing I have trouble reconciling is the contradiction in Cornelius's character. On the one hand, he was so angry and shamed allowed his daughter to die a slow, painful death, but on the other he neither sold the child nor killed him -- something I would have thought would have been easy for him to do. Another strike against the baby was that he was actually the product of first cousins, since Isaac was Cornelius's brother's child.
Join Date: 05/24/11
I thought Cornelius was the perfect villain - an abuser in every sense of the word. He seemed to lack respect for any human being, which is why I was surprised that he didn't have Clarissa's son killed or sold. I guess that would have made for a less happy ending.
Join Date: 10/16/10
Join Date: 08/29/13
I thought it was out of character for him to have the boy well cared for. I thought he would have killed or sold the baby. He could have let the baby be raised by the slaves on his own plantation but he probably thought his wife would let people know the truth if he did that.
Join Date: 07/04/11
It seemed out of character for him. Yet, overall he treated the slaves better than many other slave owners. So maybe it was not completely out of character for him. Also he did love Emmeline. In another time and place they could have been happy. I think it was his love for Emmeline that propelled him to care for the child as he did rather than sell or kill the baby.
Join Date: 04/21/11
Cornelius could have smothered him. An option I'd not be surprised about, but by birth time he was very saturated with booze. I'm actually surprised that in his condition, he'd have been able to make such careful arrangements for the baby.
Join Date: 05/29/11
I think Cornelius wanted to be sure the baby was as far away as possible, therefore New Orleans was a good choice. An orphanage would make the baby more "anonymous," and he wouldn't have to worry that his wife or daughter would run into the child if given to anyone living nearby. In his angry state I wouldn't have been surprised if he did kill the baby, that certainly could have been a choice. I don't think he would have done anything other than those two choices, due to the fact that he believed his family name and honor were at stake.
Join Date: 10/25/12
Standards were different for men and women at the time. While it was acceptable for him to have mixed race children, women were expected to be pure. Social standing and image was extremely important. Yes it was horrible what was done to his daughter and her baby but it was the "times" and the society.
Join Date: 11/14/11
I'm surprised that he did send the baby to a safe place. He certainly was not a compassionate man. I think he sent the baby far away so that no one would see him- he wanted to protect his reputation and place in society as the head of his plantation. In his enraged state, I would not have been surprised if Cornelius had killed the baby. He certainly did not provide for the baby's care out of any feeling for Clarissa- as far as I'm concerned Cornelius killed her when he let her die without seeking medical help.
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