Sleep Fictions: A Digital Companion


Julius's euphemism "dey got fo'ty" refers to the number of lashes an enslaved man or woman would receive as a form of punishment. In a section of her autobiography published in 1861* entitled "Sketches of Neighboring Slaveholders," Harriet Jacobs describes the ubiquitous use of leather whips on slavery plantations. She notes specifically that whips were used to prevent the enslaved from oversleeping and to enforce adherence to the planter's schedule.

"When they had finished their daily toil, they must hurry to eat their little morsels, and be ready to extinguish their pine knots before nine o'clock, when the overseer went his patrol rounds. He entered every cabin, to see that men and their wives had gone to bed together, lest the men, from over-fatigue, should fall asleep in the chimney corner, and remain there till the morning horn called them to their daily task."


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