Responses to Other Blogs

Reading One

I find your response to Hill’s use of clichés rather interesting. I also found that the characters were cliché, but I’m not sure if I would identify this as a fault of Hill himself, literature as a whole or the lack of accurate, non-sensationalized information about west African villages in the 1700’s prior to the slave trade. Clichés regarding characters like Fanta and Fomba exist because a. they work as tools to progress the story and b. are based in logical situations and reactions. Fanta is not just the no-nonsense housewife, but also a woman who fears her position with her husband will be taken over by an eleven-year-old girl, which would undoubtedly leave Fanta feeling fragile and forced to put on a strong face. The historical accuracies definitely carry the story thus far, but I would disagree that Aminata is uncharacteristically capable. As a woman in a misogynistic society, Aminata has been forced to take on responsibility at times which would be considered premature by modern, western standards. This is the basis for her strength once she reaches the slave ship. We also need to remember that Aminata is narrating this as an old woman and, therefore, is reflecting on life and is unreliable.

Reading Two

I also found that the way Aminata’s treatment on the plantation was portrayed was contrary to what I was taught. I can only presume that you were taught, as I was, that slavery was much worse than it is being portrayed by Aminata. Undoubtedly, slavery is inexcusable and a great shame on humans as a whole. However, after being taught that slaves were regularly beaten, raped or killed I was shocked by how easy it was for Aminata to create a life on the plantation where she had friends, a lover, and a teacher. I also thought that it was rather odd that Aminata has not been punished for being intelligent – I know that her intelligence is threatening – but I wonder how much of Georgia’s warnings came from jealousy that Georgia was not as smart as Aminata and never would be.

Reading Three

I like how you mentioned that these things still happen today. A lot of focus in the Western world is on slavery as this ancient atrocity but to this day terrorist groups like Boko Haram and the Islamic State kidnap and take people captive as slaves. Slavery is not a thing of the past it’s a present day issue that we, as a society, turn a blind eye to.

Reading Four

I’m not sure that Lindo went from being a mean slave owner to a nice slave owner, but rather that he went from being a man utilizing free labour, to a man in mourning, to a man once again utilizing free labour. While no one would argue that Lindo was truly a good man because he owned Aminata and Dolly, I find it hard to believe that Lindo was a bad man. Contrary to Appleby, Lindo does not rape or beat Aminata, he allows her to learn to read and write, work for her own money, wander without a guide and speak proper English. I think that Lindo was being honest when he said that he referred to his slaves as servants because he certainly doesn’t act like Aminata and Dolly are slaves. Therefore I was not surprised when Lindo did not ask for his slave back, and instead set Aminata free.

I agree with you that the story is beginning to fall flat. After reading a lot of other classmates blogs I can see that many people agree with us that Hill begins to disappoint starting with this reading. I wonder if we had encountered this novel outside of an academic setting if it would have made a difference. I was enthralled while reading the novel, but once I had to analyze it, I felt as though I was flogging a dead horse. I think that from a surface level this novel is quite good, but once you look at it from an academic literary stand point it cannot hold its own against other novels, particularly classics such as Gulliver’s Travels, which is mentioned in the novel.

Reading Five

I, too, was upset that the Witherspoons had taken May. Aminata’s undying dedication to Chekura and May is admirable, even after being told that her husband is dead she refuses to take advantage of situations which would better her social and economic standing (such as marrying King Jimmy). This says a lot about Aminata’s character and values – undoubtedly she is holding on to Chekura because he is a connection to her Africa, but even then the level of commitment for a place she hasn’t seen in thirty+ years is outstanding.

Reading Six

I agree with you completely – I, too, was disappointed by the predictability of the end of the novel. It felt cheap and rushed yet unrealistic too. Overall, I felt cheated by Hill when I finished the novel because it had such promise in the first few sections but seemed to fall flat in the end. I’m not sure that there would be a way to end the novel without doing an injustice to the first three books, however. Because Hill chose to narrate the book in past tense as Aminata’s story from London we know that Aminata survives all of the atrocities she faces, which is rather disappointing. It’s sort of like starting to read a book and knowing that there are multiple novels afterwards so you know that the main character lives. I think that the only way for this to end well would have been Aminata’s death, which would have been equally weak and is, generally, a poor writing technique for a professional to utilize.


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