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?