Book 2 Response Part 2 (Reading 3)

Reading3

Pages 163-233


Summary

Reading three begins with the chapter, “Milk for the longest time.” The chapter begins with Georgia using herbal remedy to give Aminata an abortion after Master Appleby raped her. After this, Aminata never leaves Georgia’s side and Appleby bought a new slave named Sally who he “had his way with” many times before she died of the pox. Aminata continues to learn about her world from Mamed. One day, Georgia approaches Aminata and coaxes out of her that she is two months pregnant by Chekura. Georgia tells Aminata not to tell Master Appleby Chekura’s name and when the baby’s born to nurse it as long as possible so that she can keep the child. It is shortly after this that Aminata is first introduced to Solomon Lindo, the indigo inspector for the province of South Carolina. Georgia, Aminata and a few other slave women make gumbo without pork for Lindo, which peaks Aminata’s interest because she also does not eat pork. Aminata slips up at dinner and uses a proper English word (taught) instead of speaking in slave English (done teach) but instead of being reprimanded for this Lindo simply says “I could use a girl like you.” Later Aminata hears through the fishnet that Solomon Lindo had offered to purchase Aminata but Appleby refused because her abilities were too valuable.

One night in August Aminata and Chekura jumped the broom and were married so that their growing family would be bound together. Appleby didn’t allow his slaves to marry but by marrying allowed them to maintain an identity of their own. When Appleby returned to his plantation Aminata was six months pregnant and too full of pride to answer his questions regarding the child. Aminata makes the decision to disobey Appleby because:

[She] was from Bayo and [she] had a child growing inside  [her] and [she] would stand proud.

Appleby takes all of Aminata’s fancy clothes and headscarves from Chekura and throws them into the fire. He then shaves all of her hair off and humiliates her in front of her fellow slaves. Aminata, however, continues to talk back to Appleby. Appleby chooses not to beat her, but instead yells at her across the yard saying:

You don’t own that baby any more than you own the wool on your head. They both belong to me.

Aminata is sixteen when her son, Mamadu (named after her father) is born. Aminata has to begin working again after one week and takes great pride in being a mother. It takes two weeks for Chekura to be able to make it to the Appleby Plantation to meet his son. When Mamadu is ten months old, Aminata wakes up in the middle of the night to his crying and discovers that Appleby has sold him to someone. Watching her son stolen away from her into the night has a tremendous affect on Aminata, who does not work or eat for weeks before Appleby sold her to Solomon Lindo.

In the chapter, “The Shape of Africa” Aminata arrives in Charles Town with Solomon Lindo and discovers that Lindo and his wife are much kinder than Appleby, calling Aminata and their other slave, Dolly, servants, allowing Aminata to speak proper English and allowing them to self-hire. Lindo’s wife is also the first white person who knew Aminata’s name (Meena) before meeting her, this makes Aminata feel more comfortable with them already. Aminata meets Dolly, a pregnant servant who cooks for the Lindo’s, before being shown the most elaborate sleeping quarters that she had ever seen. Aminata didn’t like Charles Town, as it stuck of the dead, dying, rotting food, body odour and refuse. But working for the Lindo’s was the best life Aminata had had since being kidnapped in Africa and Aminata does not take this for granted, although she does grow used to her new way of life. Aminata continues to learn from Solomon Lindo about Africa, Islam, Judaism, mathematics and English. Aminata’s life consists of learning, delivering babies and working for Solomon Lindo and his wife. Aminata delivers Dolly’s baby, which reminds her of Mamadu, and soon after that Mrs. Lindo becomes pregnant and Aminata delivers their son, David, as well. Aminata is incredibly intelligent and notices that even though Lindo claims that Jews and Africans are not too different he still owns slaves, could come and go as he please and wore fine clothes. One day, Lindo takes Aminata to the library so that she can see what Africa looks like and where it is, but Aminata is disappointed that she cannot relate the map of Africa to anything realistic or within her memory.

Thirteen years pass before the chapter, “Words came late from a wet-nurse” in this chapter we learn that Georgia and Fomba have since died and that in 1774 a smallpox epidemic swept through Charles Town, killing Mrs. Lindo, Dolly and both of their sons. Aminata was not allowed to attend the shiva for Mrs. Lindo, which meant that she wasn’t able to give a proper goodbye. Solomon Lindo is devastated by the death of his wife and child and leaves Charles Town for New York to try and save the Carolina indigo industry amidst great economic suffering in Charles Town at the hands of the British. Solomon’s sister, Leah, moves into the house but makes no effort to provide anything for Aminata, which leads to her having to barter goods and services for food. While at the market one day, Aminata once again meets Chekura, who has been planting rice in Georgia, and is only in Charles Town for one night. From Chekura, Aminata learns that Mamadu died of the pox a year after being sold and that the sale of her child was arranged by “Lindo, the indigo jew.” When Lindo returns he has lost his job and is incredibly cruel to Aminata, she confronts him about selling her son and he admits to it. Weeks later, Aminata leaves with Lindo to New York City to argue for a final time for the indigo trade. Aminata refers to this as her exodus, hoping that she will never return to South Carolina.

Response

This reading, which is less than 100 pages, seems to have the most packed into it out of all the readings thus far. Aminata’s pride is both admirable and foolish. I believe that it is her pride that causes her son to be sold because Mamadu was not worth enough at the time for Appleby to try and sell him if it wasn’t to teach a lesson to Aminata. Aminata’s life in Charles Town seems incredibly good, she is consistently fed, treated with respect and able to learn and make her own money. This is a very large contrast to her life on Appleby’s plantation or even back in Bayo as at both of these places she acted entirely for other people in her life, never doing something for herself without punishment. The development of Solomon Lindo’s character is what stands out for me the most in this reading, especially in the Charles Town Library Society where, even after the other white men have left, he has Aminata fan him because he is hot. This, to me, shows his true colours – despite how kind he may be owning a slave allows him to have power over someone when all of Charles Town’s Anglicans have power over him. The internal struggle of Lindo between being kind and following the Torah, and joining the ranks of those who shun him is very well written and interesting to read.

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