The Theme of Freedom

This is a paper that revolves around the life story of a young black woman, Virginia Pryor, whose life experiences revolve around bondage and freedom. She is a slave woman, who is taken by his male master, so as to be warming his bed. Virginia Pryor has gone to Philadelphia with her owner, Jackson Pryor, who had just been made the ambassador to Nicaragua. According to Jackson, Virginia is to remain as his obedient servant and also a sexual partner. She dwells in his master’s home with two of her children, as one has been left to the south. This was an intentional plan by Jackson to leave one child to the South, so as to totally keep Virginia under his control. She is determined to flee from her master’s home, though this does not come easily, as she has to go through trials, hardships, and painful experiences. She has to plan her escape; though, this is made even harder by the fact that one of her children has been taken to the South to ensure that Virginia remained royal and submissive to her master. Her master has to ensure that Virginia does not escape; though, this does not work, as Pryor is helped by a movement of the blacks called Underground Railroad to escape.

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We come across Virginia Pryor, who is the main character in the book, and who is widely used to develop the theme of freedom and its cost. One of the most noticeable costs of freedom is Virginia’s courage and determination to escape, leaving one of her children behind. She thinks about her past and the ways she had made several attempts to escape without any success. She has to ask for help to escape from a servant, who works in a hotel, where she was staying with his master. A young man by the name Nig-Nag hears her wish to be free and gets the message to a person, who belongs to the Underground Railroad. From the novel she attains this Freedom after she is helped by Philadelphia Underground Railroad. Freedom is also an evident theme in the short story, “The Almost White Boy”. This is brought out by the racial segregation that exists within the society. There is an enormous struggle by the bi-racial child to get his freedom from the attitudes that the society has towards him. It is more than slavery to him to be discriminated against because of his skin color.

The theme of freedom is further given weight, when one vividly examines the plot of the documentary, The Underground Railroad. This is a network of people, who assist the fugitives to run away to the North and to Canada. It is run by a lot of people, most of whom are blacks. This brings the connection between this organized action by blacks and the aspect of freedom. We can also connect this with what we have seen in the novel “Price of a Child”. The main character, Virginia Pryor, gets her freedom from her oppressive master through the help of the Underground Railroad.

Theme of Freedom

In the novel “The Price of a Child”, the most conspicuous theme is the one of freedom. There is this slave mistress, who keeps one of Virginia’s children to the south, to ensure that Virginia remained obedient to her husband. This is also to ensure that she does not plan or think of escaping. Johnston, Virginia’s master sees himself as an adorable man, besides being honorable, regardless of how he treats Virginia. What hurts Virginia most is the fact she is used as a sex slave and she does everything without her consent. Her desire to be free might be triggered by the fact that in the long run, her children would end up as slaves just like her. His master is ready to do all he can in order to make sure that Virginia does not escape. However, his plan does not work, as Virginia, through the assistance of the Underground Railroad, escapes. This does not please Johnston at all, as he sees Virginia as an extremely ungrateful woman, who does not appreciate all what he had done for her.

According to Johnston, there is no need for Virginia to escape, as he terms her decision to escape as misguided and pointless. He does not see any cruel aspect that could have triggered Virginia’s desire to escape. He defends his “little” cruelty stating that he is only acting as per the culture and traditions. According to him, a woman is a man’s slave, who is supposed to bring comfort to the man. He terms his behavior and treatment towards Virginia, as one of his key duties of a devoted husband. He also justifies his attitude towards Virginia and the children claiming that he owns them all, and he has the authority to use them as it would please him as they were his slaves. To him, Virginia is just a sex slave, who should always be there to bring pleasure to the man.

From the above incidences, one can justify the actions of Virginia. The behavior of her master triggers her urge for freedom, and this pushes up her desire and plans the escape. She has to get freedom from the fact that Jackson has made her his servant, as well as a sexual partner. Her desire to escape and get freedom is backed up by William Still and Passmore Williamson, who encourage her to get her freedom by leaving her master. It is quite clear that this is one of the toughest decisions that Genie has to make. Genie is the name that is used to refer to Virginia Pryor in the novel. She has to run away with her two children, leaving one behind. This happens despite Jackson’s attempt to stop her from escaping. Her freedom is also manifested, when she meets Harriet, a young school teacher. Harriet convinces Genie to choose a new name, which is meant to present her new life. This marks a new identity of the new Genie, who is now free from slavery. She accepts the new name, Mercy Gray, which signified how people had shown her mercy until she attained her freedom.

She enjoys life as a free woman, who is not under the authority of anyone, though this comes with its own challenges. It is crucial to note that Genie is housed by Aunt Bea, and it is in this house, where Genie experiences misery, characterized by Flea bites and poverty. She has to persevere tolerating all this, since it was not safe, as Jackson is still pursuing them. This is an evident cost of freedom; persistence, perseverance and numerous hardships.

Mercy later moves to West Chester together with Zilpha, and they start a whole new life. This is characterized by another cost of freedom, as Genie has to leave her children behind. This seems to be one of the most complicated decisions that Genie has to make, but she has no choice. What follows is Harriet’s request to Genie to visit the president of the Ladies Anti-Slavery Society, where she is asked to affirm that she has left Jackson out of her own free will. At the same time, we see her narrating her experiences as a slave and the scars that slavery left on her.

The whole story changes, when Genie goes to New York. There is a series of cases that relate to Genie’s escape from her owner. In New York, Genie regains her original name, Pryor, which helps in her identity and in ruling the case. Finally, a judgment is made, and Mercer and her children are free. This marks the freedom and restoration of Mercer and her children, and life takes a new turn for them.

As stated earlier, the issue of freedom is also evident in the short story “Almost White Boy”. This is a story of how disparities exist in the modern societies due to the difference in color. This is more evident case of slavery, than the one described by Genie’s life. From the story one child is considered blacker, while those, who were whiter, were considered superior. From Genie’s story, the people, who were denied freedom, were the blacks. The whites considered the blacks, not as human beings, but as items that could be sold and bought. Having a slave is like owning property, where one can do whatever he or she wished with it. That is mainly the force behind Genie's demand for freedom, since Jackson took her as his asset, and she had no right or privilege. The issue of slavery and oppression of the blacks repeats itself in the story “Almost a White Boy”.

There is a correlation between the two stories and The Underground Railroad. The Underground Railroad is a movement mainly made up of blacks, and its main job is to help slaves to escape. Their main duty is to facilitate freedom, as seen in the case of Genie. Some slaves have the desire to be free, but they do not have the means. Their motives and desires are made possible by The Underground Railroad.

Slavery is still prevalent today, and the desire to get freedom is, therefore, inevitable. In one way or another, people have found themselves enslaved in places and situations that they cannot deliver themselves. The cost of freedom does not change with time, as what people did to free themselves in the past, is what they do today. Freedom is accompanied by struggle, patience, and sacrifice, risking, and even believing in oneself. This is seen in the life of Genie and is also in the lives of many other people.


The theme of freedom is prevalent throughout the novel The Cost of a Child”. The cost of freedom is expensive, as seen in life and experiences of Genie. This theme also appears in the story “Almost a White Boy”, and the two novels are joined by some individuals, who are facilitating freedom from the documentary “The Underground Railroad”.

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