Implication of the master- In class, we have discussed at length the importance of the hierarchy in early American society. Rebelling against a master is a small treason. Barrick has an irreverent attitude, however, and does not pander to that tradition. He describes his first master only briefly, but it is an important statement. The fact that he was allowed to print it at all could be evidence of change in the hierarchical system. He says “At ten years of age I went as apprentice to James Saunders, a silk weaver in Spittlefield Parish, lived with my master about three years, but he starved and froze me almost to death, for which I left him, and roved through the streets, and frequently stole small things from shop windows.” Not only is he implicitly blaming his master for his downfall, he further implicates him by giving his name.
Passion- Two very different stories are juxtaposed- that of John Sullivan and that of Alexander White. White’s story is one of the first crime narratives we’ve read that describes a crime of passion. He kills because he wants to win the favor of a wealthy woman. Sullivan’s narrative is almost entirely devoid of passion. He lists his crimes. He describes his more serious crimes in the same matter-of-fact tone he describes his petty crimes. He only devotes a few words to the beating at the end of his narrative, and his warning to others is almost like an obligatory afterthought.
Authenticity- White’s narrative seems to follow the style of older narratives, using words like “heinous” to describe his actions, but certain aspects of his narrative seem more authentic than others. He seems more concerned about the effect that he’s had on his family, for example, than his offending God. One thought that seems show authentic remorse is his wish in his letter that “no reflections may be cast on the innocent child hereafter for the untimely death of his unhappy father. His love for his family separates his narrative from past narratives which express mainly a (possibly forced) love for God.