SAT Subject US History Practice Question 703: Answer and Explanation
54. "Pompey, how do I look?"
"Mighty massa, mighty."
"What do you mean mighty, Pompey?"
"Why massa you look noble."
"What do you mean by 'noble'?"
"Why you look just like one lion."
"Now Pompey, where have you ever seen a lion?"
"I saw one down in yonder field the other day."
"Pompey, you foolish fellow, that was a jackass."
"Was it massa? Well, you look just like him."
Who would be most likely to have related this dialogue to whom?
A. A slaveholder to his son
B. A white overseer to his son
C. A slave mother to her son
D. A Confederate schoolboy to his friends
E. A white overseer to another white overseer
Correct Answer: C
Slave mothers tried to boost the confidence of their children and keep them entertained at the same time. If you can figure out how to fool your master or have fun at his expense, it gives you some psychological space of your own. This little dialogue shows how clever slaves could be. Many blacks were familiar with these kinds of things, but it took the Civil Rights Movement to bring material like this into mainstream history teaching. Here, the slave tricks his master by using the knowledge that the master thinks he (the slave) is stupid. A slave holder (A) or white overseer (B; E) would be unlikely to recount a story making fun of them and their race. The same holds true for a Confederate schoolboy (D). (Confederate schoolboys were white, since slaves could not attend school.)