In Lawrence Hills novel “The Book of Negroes” he expresses the belief that one must survive no matter what, whether it be through the power of language or ones journey to find an identity and place in this world. This course of action can be seen through the characters actions, the setting and plot, and symbols through out the book.
Language is a power that no one can live with out. Whether it be through writing or speaking, without the use of language there would basically be no one else in the world besides you. By speaking and communicating with others around them the slaves are confirming their existence. “’Chekura’ I sang ‘of kinta. And Isa, of Srakoro. Ngolo, of Jelibugu. Fanta, of Bayo.’ the homelander’s spirits picked up, a little” (Hill, Pg 83).
When the slaves gave their name to some one else and then that person called out their name, it helped confirm that yes they do exist and that people will remember who they are and we’re. Language in the form of words is another way that is expressed as survival in Aminata’s story.
“If I live long enough to finish this story, it will outlive me. Long after I have returned to the spirits of my ancestors, perhaps it will wait in the London library. Sometimes I imagine the first reader to come upon my story. Could it be a girl? Perhaps a women. A man. An Englishman. An African. One of these people will find my story and pass it along. And then, I believe, I will have lived for a reason” (Pg 105).
... with examples Katherine Mansfield frequently uses figurative language that gives a poetic feel to the story. Personifications abound: “Her first real ... she went back to London, this time, permanently. She lived a very unconventional life, getting into relationships and marriages and ... Author Katherine Mansfield was born in New Zealand where she lived for the first nineteen years of her life before ...
By writing down the tale of her life she is making sure that others will remember her, and more will come to know her. She has made it possible that even after her death she will still survive, be it through the memory of others or otherwise. Language is a power with it, any thing is possible, even getting along with your enemy when you can understand with each other. It is an ability that insures survival even in the worst of times.
To Survive a human being must have a identity and a place in this world. It is a goal in life that every one strives for. At the beginning Aminata is a free-born African Muslim, but when she is captured her identity and place in her village is stripped away and she must endure all the pain and suffering in order to find her new place in this strange and unfamiliar world. She eventually is able to find a place no matter where she goes using the abilities that her mother passed down to her as a child. “After collecting my herbs and roots, I began to venture out to catch the babies of the slaves in town. I learned to negotiate with their owners as bodly as the women who hawked fish in the streets” (Pg 209).
The abilities that she uses are able to ensure that she is known and that she has a place to stay, or at least as long as she is needed. When a depression of sorts hits the town where she lives people do not have the ability to pay her any more and she losses her job/ her place. When she goes to New York City with Mr. Lindo she runs away becoming free. She must find her place in this new world, for even though she is free she is now a nobody and has no one. She again uses the ability to has learned from her mother and others over the years. She once again is employed by many as a baby catcher but she also as well becomes a symbol for blacks. “At the Trinity Church, I found out that the teaching of Negroes took place six blocks to the north” (Pg 261).
She becomes known as the reading and writing black women and blacks from all over come to listen to her read the newspaper out loud. Aminata through out the entire novel, no matter where she goes is eventually able to find her place in the society that she lives in. Using the ability one learns in their life to find an identity and place in this world is a sure way to earn a place with your friends, family, and peers. It is a way that your name will live on and be remembered for years, a way to survive.
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Surviving no matter what can be seen in the novel from the symbols that Lawrence hills spreads through out the pages. Aminata is referred to by many as a flower, “And you Aminata, beware of your own beauty, flowering among strangers” (Pg 52).
The flower is a symbol of beauty, but with out the right conditions it can and will wither over time. A flower needs water and room to grow, it needs to not be restricted as it’s roots reach for spots to settle. Aminata through out the novel is a flower that is continuously dug up and re-planted in gardens to full for her roots to fully grasp her surroundings. As the years go on her strength starts to weaken and the reader can see her struggles to survive to live another day when all she loved has been stripped from her fingers, she is become a flower who is withering away as the season ends. Forests in the novel are another symbol of survival. At the beginning of the story when she is with her mother returning from a trip to a nearby village they are travelling through the forest, still free and able to do as they please, that is until they leave the forest and her mother is killed and she is captured. Later in the novel when she frees her self from the world of slavery she is once again in the forest, “Nearly twenty years had passed since I was seized in the woods outside Bayo, but here I am, all alone, and surrounded by trees of another continent-and I was free again” (Pg 257).
Some times with out the feeling or sense of freedom one can not survive, if you can not do as you wish you may be alive but your not surviving. Water or ocean is the survival of Aminata over the years. The different colors of the water mixing together to become one. Water is proof that Aminata has survived from the fact that she has taken every thing she has learned from every where she has lived and combined it all to become who she is today. By accepting her fate and making something of her life while she was at it no matter where she went she was able to move on even when others around her could not. Symbolism through out the novel suggests Hills message of survival. They also convey that with out these items/symbols many human beings would not be able to survive, to move on in life.
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Lawrence Hills novel “The book of Negroes” is an incredible and inspirational story about a girls journey to survive in a unknown world. It is a story that tells the reader that in order to survive one must have a name and a place in this world, one must be able to tell others of them selves so that their essence in the world will survive even if they are gone from the world of the living. Through the characters, the setting and plot, and symbols through out the book Hill the idea that one must survive no matter what in order to live and be remembered when their time is over, for in truth the real meaning of survival, is all in the memory and telling of ones life.