I will tell you right off the start that I sit here in amazement that Lori and Wendy were able to read this book in one month….took me three as I had to keep putting it down to let my thoughts and emotions take in what I was reading.
This is an emotionally intense well written book. I first mentioned in this post. LitLovers has given some questions to answer about this book which you can find here. Not saying I’m going to answer them all either. In Canada this book is published under the title Book Of Negroes
, in the states it is called “Someone knows my Name”.
2. What is your opinion about Hill’s suggestion that Aminata’s very
youthfulness at the time of her abduction enables her emotional
survival, even as some of the adults in her world show signs of
Youth have a different take on things. They are often more able to hunker down and deal with whatever is thrown at them. Her youth also protected her from the advances of the men on board and gave her freedom to move around. Most of the rest were simply kept in their area and expected to cope. To go from complete freedom to being a messy, smelly, tight quarters on a ship with a never ending water line…that would be really hard for most adults to cope with.
3. The section of the book set in the sea islands of South Carolina
depicts eighteenth-century indigo plantations where African American
slaves and overseers are left largely to their own devices during the
“sick season”—a good half of the year. To what degree does this cultural
and social isolation allow for an interesting development and
interaction of African American characters in the novel?
4. Aminata suffers some horrifying cruelties at the hands of her
captors, but her relationships with her masters aren’t always what you’d
expect. How does Aminata’s story reveal the complex ways that people
react to unnatural, unequal relationships?
This fits with other things that I have read about slavery. How some people formed good strong bonds with each other regardless of skin colour, whereas with others, skin colour was the defining issue on how they interacted with others. I suspect though, the most cruel people, were also not nice to their white brethren either, having a tougher edge to them. Nastiness attracts to each other.
5. During the course of the story, Aminata marries and has a family.
Although she is separated from them, she is reunited from time to time
with her husband and one of her children. What does the work tell us
about the nature of love and loyalty?
Love and loyalty hold true you know? People work with the situations they find themselves in. Take for instance military spouses who have to cope without their partner for days on end…their love doesn’t stop just because their partner isn’t physically with them. Aminata’s situation was forced upon her, but that didn’t change the nature of her love for her man.
6. Aminata struggles to learn and master all sorts of systems of
communicating in the new world: black English, white English, and
Gullah, as well as understanding the uses of European money and maps.
How do her various coping mechanisms shed light on her character?
I think Aminata was an amazingly smart woman. I think she would, given the proper education, outsmarted most people around her. She used that brain of her to learn to talk like those around her, to assimilate the best she could into her environment. Flexible but tough, smart but wise, just an amazing woman.
7. Aminata longs for her home. What is the meaning of home in the
novel, and how does the meaning change as the novel progresses?
Who wouldn’t long for their home, to go back to that safety and security? People do that all the time. Did you know that often children who grew up in the church and later left it, often when they marry and have children, find themselves drawn back to the church for the sake of their children? They want their children to have that safety and security they had. It’s good to go home, to want the love and security you had as a child. Of course as you mature you figure out what home really is. For me, as much as I long to be on a farm with a bunch of critters around me… home I’ve learned is where my hubby and son are. They center me and are part of my security. Aminata learns the same. Her home is not just Africa, but where she feels the most secure.
8. What does the novel tell us about survival? Which characters fare best and why?
Survival… best done by those who can adapt to the circumstances they find themselves in. Aminata did well, the lady who rescued her when she was so sick did well. Finding a place, learning how to fit in and work within the system. Learning to be tough and yet flexible. This helps a person survive.
10. Aminata is a woman of extraordinary abilities—she is skillful
with languages, literate, a speedy learner, a born negotiator. Why did
Hill choose this story to be told by such a remarkable woman? What
effect do her abilities have on the shaping of the story?
Why? To show there is always hope. There is always something that can be done and worked with even through horrific situations.
12. What lessons does Aminata’s tale hold for us in today’s world?
Hard one to answer eh? Today’s world is one of change and conflict. Keeping one’s head down and hunkering in until you know the lay of the land is probably a good rule of thumb to live by. It’s good though, to use your wits and your intelligence to learn the language and customs of the people you find yourself surrounded by and use that to make a way.
Being a person of faith though, you need more than just intelligence and wisdom to get by. Faith gives a hope for things yet unseen. Aminata has some hope that she will find her daughter, that she will find a place to truly call home. She used her natural talents to good end. Shouldn’t we all do the same? Use your natural talents, keep your faith and just keep moving forward.
We all need rest don’t we?
Even if we aren’t busy we need rest… have you ever noticed that? Sometimes we need rest from our “not busyness”… like when I’m on vacation and I realize I want to get home and get back into routine and back into being into this that and the other thing. 🙂
BUT when we are busy with all kinds of things… that is when rest more often feels craved right?
Or when we are busy fighting a battle with our minds or our souls or feel like there is just too much going on around us.. we just need to stop, and consider and change and refocus…
We NEED to rest.
We need to remember what’s important in the long run.
This morning my lad and I were working on a new art project, it called for some fine detail and we’ll be using new techniques and materials…. My lad was stressing out…and I sent him to walk up and down the stairs… to get rid of those stress endorphins and to just grab a moment to regroup. He needed to rest his mind from the stress of trying to do perfectly something he was learning for the first time. It’s hard for a perfectionist to do something right the first time giving it a try. And one of the things I’m trying to teach him is… be a perfectionist…but give yourself the needed time to do it properly. Don’t rush it… rushing it never helps. 🙂 Take the time to rest and relax into the moment of trying something new. Rest instead of stress.
Mind.. some people work best under pressure they really do…but not in our household. Stress just makes us crazy in our heads and we forget about what’s most important.
Recognizing the giftings God has given to each of us.
Remembering the importance of family and relationships.
Remembering that just as God “always has our back” we do the same thing, we help each other through times of stress.
Resting gets us away from the craziness and back to what’s most important.
What does resting do for you?
FMF is a community of writers. Writing for five minutes on Fridays (sometimes a wee bit later) gathering a word prompt Hosted over at Kate’s. This week the word was REST. Come along, join us won’t you?
Kate over at Heading Home hosts Five Minute Friday, a weekly word prompt. A group of folks gather once a week to give their thoughts, in about five minutes, on a given word prompt that changes weekly. Everyone comes up with something different it seems.
I have to admit, I’ve been pondering this word prompt for a couple of days now…Trying to think what the word haven means to me. It’s not an easy word.
And then…I thought of my front garden.
How it’s an overgrown mess….but of how a wee child stopped and saw my cat hiding in the tulips.
And then she saw my chicken, and my bunny and….
She talked and pointed it out to her mama, and her mama pointed out the flowers, and bugs that I have hidden there as well.
My heart smiled.
I got to thinking about how my front garden is a haven for young mom’s. I put tons of things in there to make children look and see, I give mom’s permission to come and close and take a moment or three with their littles and just see and smile and look, and if needed, pick a flower or two. It’s all good, and it brings a smile to many a face. 🙂
It may not be a haven of rest, but I do hope it a haven of connectivity. We need to connect with each other, to bring a smile or two to the face and hearts of others, don’t you think?
So, the linky closes up in another couple of days. What’y’say… want to join in the party and write on the word haven yourself? If you, let me know, and in the spirit of the party, I’ll come over and visit you too! 🙂
Kate’s word prompt this week is the word Grow.
Tonight as I was sitting I was thankful for a hubby who is mindful of my garden when I’m having a day where I am feeling physically not so good.
My boys helped me cover my wee growing plants as it might freeze tonight and I’d rather they not be harmed by any frost.
It made me think about it’s what we’re to do right? Help each other be just a wee bit more?
Like the sun helps the plants to use the rain that they receive.
The rain helps the plant draw nutrients into the roots.
Before you know it, you have a plant growing well. One that will bear much fruit in it’s season.
It’s like this with families eh?
How the action of one person helps another, perhaps not all in the same way, but they do.
It’s how the church should work too.
One part helping another part which helps another and before long…fruit, in its season is produced.
Something interesting happens though…
I’ve seen it in gardens…where the plant is doing well and you count the days and think okay.. we should get produce about now…and you don’t! One ends up disappointed….and you ignore the plants and get on with life and one then day you go out and you have a tomato, or you see a bean… and EVEN THOUGH the plant is late in it’s production…you rejoice because your garden has been productive.
It’s no different with people.
It’s no different with churches.
We produce in OUR season. Not some predetermined course.
Just as my son learned to read later than some other children, he also read earlier than some I’ve read about.
It’s a production schedule that we can’t ordain on our own.
The season comes by it’s own merit and we just need to let it come…early, late, or right “on time”. Whenever it comes…. shall we not rejoice for TODAY the harvest has come.
So tell me…what is YOUR role in it?