This chapter describes how Herman Melville recognized the existence of what he had once called not “ordinarily human”: the chattels that gave new meaning to persons, the human anomaly constituted by law as property. Melville is obsessed with the making and unmaking of human materials as well as humans and animals. The chapter then assesses what it means in times of torture and dissembling to be like an animal. It all began with chattels. Their treatment helps one to understand the limits of cruelty. They are used as examples when humans need most to categorize, to dominate, and to justify slavery, genocide, and incarceration. The proximity between humans and animals is sometimes tenuous. Boundaries are permeable, and taxonomies are necessary to ensure the order of things. However, when the pressure is on to construct—legally and socially—degradation and inferiority, categories and terminologies get muddled. The hierarchies no longer hold.
Princeton Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.
If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.
To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.