The Whipping Boy
By Richard Gibney
In the late 1800 a violent and comprehensive civil war began in the United States of America after Abraham Lincoln supported banning slavery. The war was a conflict between the Union in the North and the Confederacy in the South, Non-slavery against slavery. One of the most significant events in the history of the United States. The North was fighting to end slavery and protect the Union. Richard Gibney addresses the controversial subject slavery in his short story ”The Whipping Boy” that takes place in the end of the American Civil War where slavery was abolished.
”The Whipping Boy” starts in medias res in a slave plantation in the southern part of ...view middle of the document...
As the story progress Tommy and Mikey become obsessed with the thought of getting revenge on master Sterling Gage.
The story reaches climax when master Sterling Gage returns from war – Thirty-five days after they were declared free. He finds an unconscious Mikey on his couch with an empty bottle of bourbon. He starts hitting Mikey in the chest and disciplines him. When he left to go to town Mikey stops him and begins to whip him in rage. Tommy and Mikey almost torture master Sterling Gage to death, but were stopped by Martha as master Sterling Gage painfully begged for her help. “Stop this,” he begged.””. They left the plantation shortly after the attack. On their way to Richmond, they where met by a lynch mob of Confederate soldiers and was shot dead.
The story portrays two types of social groups in the late 1800 during the Civil War: slaves and masters/owners. The most important characters in the story is: Mikey, Martha and Sterling Gage, whom will be characterized below:
Mikey is one of the three slaves the readers are introduced to. He is an uneducated, animalistic slave that is filled with revenge towards his master, Sterling Gage. “We’s free to do as we like”. Mikey is an impulsive man that does not think about the consequences of his actions. For example, when he offers to smother old Mrs. Gage or when he tortures Sterling Gage with Tommy. “When Mikey and Martha lay alone, he offered to smother the old woman in her sleep”.
Sterling Gage is Mikey, Tommy and Martha’s typically slave master. Early on he takes advantage of his power when blaming Mikey for a “crime” that he committed. “When his father, Alvin Prescot Gage, had confronted him, Sterling thought nothing of blaming Mikey, and Sterling’s father 50 whipped Mikey with a severity the eight-year-old never forgot”. He also uses his power to use Martha as an object for sex whenever he wanted; “Sterling Gage’s approaches had sickened her because she had to submit herself to him”. Sterling is also an only child, which makes him precious to his mother Old Mrs. Gage, “My mother will be heartbroken. I’m her miracle boy, Martha ... her only child”.
Martha is portrayed as the most important character in the story. It takes place from her point of view although it is told in a third person narrative. She saves Sterling Gage from being killed by Mikey and Tommy, despite being a submissive to him. She also wants to stay and take care of Old Mrs. Gage, who will starve if Martha isn’t there to feed her, “She continued cooking for Old Mrs. Gage, who deteriorated in her bedchamber day after day”. She has a slave mentality and is afraid of the slave abolition. On one hand Martha wants to travel...