A Heroic Adventure

For my online English course this summer, I decided to read “The Book of Negroes” by Lawrence Hill. I cried many times throughout this novel but can assure you that this is now my favourite book. It is a story about a girl in the slave trade and her journey to freedom. This girl is named Aminata Diallo and after reading this book, I realized that Lawrence Hill used the hero archetype to portray her journey to freedom.

In my opinion, I think that a hero is someone that is a kind-hearted person. This person faces many challenges throughout their journey but never gives up. They keep trying for what they want and eventually they succeed. Aminata Diallo is this person.

Aminata Diallo is kind to everyone she meets along her journey. I literally don’t think she has a bad bone in her body. She was taught how to read and write from a young age and uses this knowledge to teach others. She isn’t selfish with this gift. She loves learning and wants everybody to be able to share her gift. One person even said, “She’s the best teacher I ever done have” (Hill, 365). She also helps others when they are in need. On the side lines of being a slave, she is also a midwife. She delivers babies as a job. Again, she could have been selfish and decided not to help out these pregnant women, but she wanted to help them. A villain is mean and evil whereas a hero is kind and loving.

Aminata faces many challenges along this journey as well. She loses both of her parents, her children, and her husband. I honestly don’t know how she was able to survive after that. I know that without my parents, I do not know what I would do with myself. I think I would be depressed and unmotivated to do anything for a very long time. But she lost her ENTIRE family. I was surprised that she wasn’t a miserable wreck! She also was raped, beaten, fed only enough to survive, and lived as a slave for the majority of her life. Aminata kept trying though. She never gave up her dream of freedom. I think if I were her, I would eventually lose motivation and just tough it out. I’d make the best out of what I had.

Aminata isn’t like me though. She kept trying, and she never gave up. It was because of her motivation that made her succeed. She finally was able to obtain freedom when she arrived in England and told her story of her life in the slave trade. By doing this, she helped the abolitionist movement which will eventually stop slavery all together. It didn’t get to that point in the book, but I know it will happen.

Aminata was a hero to all the other African slaves because she got herself as well as the Africans, freedom (one day). She is a very motivational, fictional character that will continue to inspire me every day. She never gave up no matter how hard her life got.

What would you do if you were Aminata? Would you keep trying or would you give up? Let me know in the comments!

Image Source: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/aunjanue-ellis-nabs-female-lead-777628

The Book of Negroes: Archetypal Insight

Now that I have finished this novel, I can honestly say that this is my new favourite book. It was very touching and made me cry many times for I felt as though I was Aminata Diallo. Lawrence Hill did a very good job when appealing to the reader’s emotions. He knew how to use the right words from Aminata’s perspective to make the reader really connect with her.

I believe that the Archetypal perspective allowed me to gain the most insight into “The Book of Negroes”. This perspective allowed the reader to see how heroic Aminata was. She wasn’t just some weak slave who “accidentally” survived this terrible life. She was a strong slave who fought for her freedom and found the courage in herself to survive. Reading it from Aminata’s perspective helped me connect with her. Hearing it firsthand helped me get a better understanding of how poorly people were treated in the slave trade.

Personally, I would hate myself after going through all the losses and hardships that Aminata went through. I wouldn’t think that I served any purpose. She didn’t have freedom and she lost all of her family. Even Falconbridge, a character in the book, thought Aminata should hate all white men for what they put her through. But Aminata doesn’t for she says, “If I spent my time hating, my emotions would have been spent long ago, and I would be nothing more than an empty cowrie shell” (Hill, 564). This quote shows how strong she really is. Despite the hard life she went through, she doesn’t hate anybody because she knows that that would ruin her as a person.

This perspective allows the reader to see how Aminata grew as a person and clung to her true self, never letting go of who she really was. Even though she lost all her children, her husband, parents, and friends, she kept fighting for freedom. For herself and other black slaves. When she came to England she agreed to write a book about her life as a slave to help with the Abolitionist movement. “I have decided to write the story of my life…Without guidance, thank you very much. My life. My words. My pen. I am capable of writing” (635).

Seeing it from this perspective makes the reader realize that Aminata Diallo is more than just an African slave. She is a courageous, smart, caring woman who fights for freedom for others as well as herself. Personally, I found I learned more about Aminata and this novel when viewing it from the archetypal perspective. It taught me things that I may not have noticed before. Sure some things stood out, but this perspective allowed me to see the little details as well.

I am not a racist person nor was I raised in a violent home which also made me have a different opinion on this book than others. As I have said before in my blog posts, I don’t understand the purpose of slavery. I can’t even fathom the idea. Why would someone want to put someone through all that hard labour, beat them, rape them, and only give them enough food and shelter to survive? How is that fair? I know that life isn’t fair, and the world isn’t fair, but people should be treated equally. We are all the same in my opinion. I also don’t understand why they would take Africans to work as slaves. I mean I do partially, maybe because they were racist and thought black people were weaker than white, but that isn’t an excuse. How does one even get the idea to do such cruel things? Also, I wonder what made Lawrence Hill want to write this book. It clearly isn’t 100% fiction because this stuff really did happen so was it based off of someone else’s story? Did someone inspire him to write this novel?

 

The Book of Negroes: Post Colonialism

In “The Book of Negroes” both feminism and post colonialism was evident, but I found that there was more evidence for post colonialism. This novel is written from Aminata’s perspective which shows clear evidence how the toubab’s (whites) had more control/power over the African’s. Aminata was abducted from her homeland, sold into slavery, and was almost always under the control of white people.

Aminata was oppressed throughout the entire novel. She watched her family die, she was taken from her homeland to become a slave, both of her children were taken away from her, her husband had died, she was raped, beaten, and lived her life as a slave. She was stripped of her identity and forced to work for the toubab’s and do as they asked. If slaves didn’t do as they were told, they were beaten severely.

These slaves were not treated like people. They were more treated like animals with the white’s being their owners. They would sell slaves for a price with a male being the most expensive. “A healthy woman would go for half the price of a man, and a healthy child one quarter” (Hill, 591). These people were now just a number value. Their past no longer matter, it didn’t matter who they truly were as a person. The white people had taken that all away from them and forced them to become a slave with a price.

White people are the dominance in this novel while the Africans are the oppressed. All the slaves are African; there isn’t a single white slave. This could be due to the fact that a majority of people were racist back then. Black people were seen as a weaker race than whites. White people often thought that they were superior and that Black people deserved less than them. They deserved less food, and poorer shelters to live in, but deserved such hard labour.

By the end of this book, Aminata had escaped slavery and had resided in England. In England, she was asked to write a book about her life story as a slave for the Abolitionist Movement. Even while she was in England, white people still thought they were somewhat dominant. Stanley Hastings, an English man who wanted Aminata’s story to help the movement had said, “With delicacy and all meticulous care, we will interview you and write a short account of your life, including the abuses you suffered in the slave trade” (629). I’m sorry, what? Stanley wants to write a story from HIS perspective about AMINATA’S life? How is that fair? Aminata had said from the beginning that she will try her best to remember everything that she has went through so that one day she can share her story. And now Stanley wants to do it for her? After reading this story, you can tell that Aminata is not a person who lets people do things for her that she is well capable of doing. She stands up for herself and says, “I have decided to write the story of my life…Without guidance, thank you very much. My life. My words. My pen. I am capable of writing” (635). She knows that she isn’t inferior because of her race or her past. She considers herself superior because of all the things she has went through and all the knowledge she has gained throughout her journey. She learned how to stand up for herself and other Africans against White people.

I find it quite disturbing how the white people had complete dominance over the Africans. I am not a racist person and I think that everyone should be treated equally. I still can’t wrap my mind around the idea that slavery was a huge part of our past and still happens in some places today because people feel they have more power than others.

 

The Book of Negroes: Archetypal

Aminata Diallo, the main character in “The Book of Negroes,” is the true hero of this novel. She goes through many losses and hardships but is able to keep going in order to fight for her freedom.

In the second part of this novel, Aminata has two children named Mamadu and May. They were both taken from her. Mamadu, who was only ten months old “disappeared into the darkness as fast as a falling star,” (Hill, 260) when she saw Appleby (her master) put him into the arms of another man on a carriage. May, at the age of three, was taken to Boston with some people who had previously taken care of Aminata and her daughter, in order to avoid the disturbances that were happening in Nova Scotia (486). She has had both of her children taken away from her. Then she finds out that “the Joseph went down,” the ship her husband Chekura was on. “Everybody on board was lost. The captain, the crew, the Loyalists white and black” (517). Aminata has literally lost everything. She had no family anymore.

This isn’t the only thing she goes through though. She has to fight many diseases and illnesses as well as continue to live the life as a slave. She was stolen from her village and forced into slavery, walked for many days, was raped, wasn’t allowed to practice her religion, beaten, and called names. She had been through so much that it was very surprising that she didn’t just give up. Because really, what did she have left? She was stripped of her dignity, lost her children, husband, and her family back home, and had no freedom at all. She moved plantations losing the friends she had made but of course, making new ones with her kind personality. I mean, what would you do without your family, friends, and your true self? It’s all gone, what do you do now? I know that many would give up. Aminata isn’t one of those people.

At this point in the novel, Aminata has gotten away from her previous slave owner, Solomon Lindo, and is residing in Shelburne, Nova Scotia. She had come to the realization that she “would never see May again, and it was time to move on” (518). She then decided that she was going to leave Nova Scotia in search for her homeland, Bayo. “On January 15, 1792, our fifteen ships lifted anchor and set sail for Sierra Leone” (519).

I can predict that Aminata will continue with courage throughout the rest of the novel showing that she is a true hero. She has such a kind personality and makes friends wherever she goes. She taught people how to write and read which many Africans didn’t know how to do, since she was taught by her father at a young age. She had such a great interest of reading, that she would read books as often as she could, furthering her knowledge. She also caught babies on the sidelines of being a slave, which she was taught how to do by her mother also at a young age. This helped her earn money that helped her survive. She has a lot of knowledge, is very smart, and very hopeful. She hates the life she has lived but wants freedom not only for herself, but for all the other slaves as well. I know she won’t stop trying until freedom is achieved. It’s just the type of woman she is.

The Book of Negroes: Reader Response

The book I am reading is “The Book of Negroes”. I have begun to admire Aminata Diallo who was stolen from her village at the age of 11 to become a slave. She lived in Bayo, a small village in Africa, and was the daughter of Mamadu Diallo and Sira Kulibali. She was both a Bamana and a Fula.

When she was abducted, her mother was killed by the captors. She watched as “another man intercepted her (mama), raised high a big, thick club and brought it swinging down against the back of her head” (Hill, 38). Along with other Africans, Aminata was eventually boarded on a ship that was headed to South Carolina where each and every one of them would be sold into slavery.

One thing that really touched me on their boat ride to South Carolina was when Fanta had killed her newborn baby (130). At first, I wondered why she would do such a horrible thing. She had carried that baby for so long and was her chance to finally have a family. But then I realized she didn’t want her baby going through what she did. She didn’t want her baby to be raped, beaten, or work as a slave. She knew that her baby would live a better life dead than alive.

I felt very sorry for Aminata and the other African’s that were abducted and sold into slavery. It is very uncommon, especially in Canada, for people to be slaves that are beaten, raped, and mistreated. I can’t even begin to comprehend how those slaves were treated. Honestly, how can one possibly mistreat someone like that? These people were chained up at some point and then were forced to do heavy and hard labour. If they refused to do work or didn’t get enough done, they would be beaten. How is it their fault if they didn’t get enough done? Clearly their bodies aren’t physically able to do the work that is asked of them, probably because they have been beaten so many times so their bodies are all crippled and don’t work like they used to. The reason I can’t fathom this idea, is because people aren’t treated this way! It is absolutely wrong for one to keep one as a slave and beat, rape, and treat them unfairly. The only thing that is treated similarly to this is animals. But even then, it is completely wrong and unheard of. Being raised in a non-violent, caring, and loving home, I could never imagine being treated like Aminata and the other Africans.

Even though this book is fiction, I think that Lawrence Hill, the author, chose to write this book because it teaches people about what happened years ago. Slavery was a thing, and still is in some places around the world today. People were beaten, raped, and mistreated because they were a slave. Almost all slaves were black, perhaps because a majority of people were racist back then and considered black people weaker than white people. I think that he wrote this book to appeal to the reader’s emotions. With today’s society, it is impossible to think that that could have happened. By hearing it from someone who lived a life in slavery and how they overcame it put the reader in their shoes. We were able to imagine ourselves as the main character, Aminata, and were able to realize how horrible the life of a slave really was. I can honestly say that I cried many times throughout this novel.