Navigating and Negating the Ownership Fallacy in Edward P. Jones’ The Known World

Chelsea Wiksyk


In his novel, The Known World, Edward P. Jones postulates that slavery is a mutually enforced system based in the ‘ownership fallacy.” As a result, he avoids the mainstream discussion of slavery as a power imbalance. Instead, he drives at the ethical issues lurking beneath this well-known inequity, insisting that the principles of autonomy and respect necessary for avoiding oppressive social systems are inadequately understood. The plethora of characters and relationships Jones depicts in his complex narrative serve to facilitate the sincere critical analysis he finds lacking in citizens of all nations, creeds, and colours. 

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Jones, Edward P. The Known World. New York: Amistad Books, 2003.

Koger, Larry. Black Slaveowners: Free Black Slave Masters in South Carolina, 1790-1860. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1985.

Patterson, Orlando. Slavery and Social Death: A Comparative Study. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1982.

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University of Victoria