Children of chaos : historical atrocity and youth survival in the literature of American slavery and the Holocaust / by Melvin LeRoy Macklin.
This study examines the suffering of children and the unimaginable indignities wreaked on them by their fellow man through acts of human aggression. Studying the atrocities of the German Holocaust and the system of American slavery, this dissertation explores various ways by which children became victims of hostile acts. Also, it analyzes the ways in which these wars and campaigns of murder affected youth survivors both physically and mentally, and it elaborates methods children adopted that enabled them to survive the events. It then explores how young survivors were able to continue to function in the aftermath of the cataclysmic events. I argue that, through specific historical acts of aggression, children were victimized by distinct representations of nihilism where moral truths were rendered futile; traditional social practices and cultural beliefs ceased to be valid; and existence itself became useless and devoid of meaning. By studying eye-witness accounts, autobiographies, films, novels, and slave narratives, this dissertation advances the argument that groups of children throughout the world were victimized by men in dictatorial positions of leadership and, indeed, entire societies who had no regard for the sanctity of human life. Furthermore, evidence supports the proposition that these men and their societies held the irrational political beliefs that racially, morally, and intellectually superior (or “enlightened”) men possessed the natural right to subjugate and dehumanized weaker groups of human beings.
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