An Unexpected Life Essay

Submitted By lubbers
Words: 2397
Pages: 10

Kayla Lubbers
Mrs. McIntosh
Sunday, January 20
An Unexpected Life In the novel The Book of Negroes written by Lawrence Hill, there is a lot of detail and description throughout the story; some moments being very graphic while others are peaceful and at ease. Hill gives a lot of detail and understanding to the reader of what is happening through literary techniques such as imagery, symbolism and themes to establish a relationship between the reader and the characters. Hill brings a lot of imagery into the readers mind allowing them to mentally visualize and be aware of what is happening in the scenes: “The medicine man also carried a fire in a container. Everywhere I turned, men were lying naked, chained to each other and to their sleeping boards, groaning and crying. Waste and blood streamed along the floor boards” (Hill 63). For “men [to be] lying naked” is completely unnatural. It is not normal for men to be so close especially after others strip them of their clothes; not just their clothes but their dignity and rights as men. It is utterly shameful and depressing. This shows the brutality of these slave traders and what these slaves go through in dealing with their grim travels. These men were all “chained to each other” and unable to escape. Where one goes the rest must follow no matter what choice they had; they had no privacy or space. The way the slave traders demean the Africans brings clarification to the readers of how horrific the treatment is towards them. Just like these men have their clothes and dignity taken from them, Aminata also is put to shame by her owner Appleby, on his plantation. Appleby beats her, strips her clothes from her, rapes her, and shaves her head bald. All her pride and happiness he takes from her just like all the men on the ships, having their dignity and human rights taken from them. All these men “groaning and crying” as they travel farther and farther from their homeland in Africa is depressing. The slave traders strip these men of everything they have until there is literally nothing left for them but the air around them to breathe; and yet that is still not satisfying at all, being surrounded by dead, rotting bodies and human waste. Crying seems to be the one simple task left for them to do. These men cry not only because they are full of fear and sadness, but they cry as though they are calling out for help; like they believe someone out there is able to hear them and will come save them from the nightmare they are living. They seem like newborns coming into the world, only to cry for attention and help. These men are like babies coming into the new world that they are witnessing around them. For a person to be laying in “waste and blood” is extremely horrific. These men on the ships have no choice but to live the brutal life they now have with no way out and no escape. With these terrible conditions that they are living in, they are getting ill with sickness and dying faster than anyone would expect; being surrounded by other dead bodies, uncleanly air and little food and water. Having these men and women huddled close is a sad situation but for other times its necessary: “A bunch of us huddled together to sleep on the cold, hard sand . . . Never in Bayo had I seen numerous men and women all sleeping together. It never would have been tolerated. But here on this island, pooling our warmth in a nest of bodies gave us comfort” (Hill 108). All of the men and women together on the strange island are left to freeze throughout the night while slave traders have their own separate and warm places for sleeping. The one way the slaves were capable of staying warm was to use body heat with one another. The reader is able to understand this with the thought of a baby needing the warmth of its mother to keep calm and happy. It allows the baby to feel safe just like the slaves do when brought close together for warmth and safety. For this kind of behaviour to “never [be]