Lawrence Hills book, The Book of Negroes is a fictional account of the life of Aminata Diallo from her youth to her elderly life. Hill starts the account at the beginning of the abolition era in Europe and considers the experiences of Aminata throughout the transatlantic slave trade. Hill also introduces other characters who, alongside Aminata expose themes such as struggle. The novels main character, Aminata experiences constant struggles throughout her life. Her struggle becomes particularly pronounced after her capture and continues until she dies. However, she ultimately gains dignity towards the end. In addition to Aminata, other women also exhibit strength despite their struggles. In the end, Hill portrays women in The Book of Negroes as in a relentless struggle for strength and survival.
Aminatas mother was one of the most instrumental women in Aminatas life who epitomized the struggle to maintain a solid household. She was an incredibly strong woman who was well respected by her fellow villagers as she was dependable in terms of healing and working as a midwife. Aminata witnessed her mothers constant struggle to care for her family amid serious hardships and was determined to grow up to be like her. Aminata notes that at a young age, she watched women work tirelessly while men sat and talked. For Aminata, this meant that men were significantly weaker than women as they required rest while women were constantly busy and highly dependable. The killing of her mother signaled the start of Aminatas struggle for strength, power, and freedom as she lost her mother who served as her source of strength, alongside her dignity at the slavers hands. Hill portrays Aminatas father as a wise man who advises his daughter that while beauty fades, strength will keep her forever. Her fathers counsel is invaluable to Aminata as she uses it in her struggle to become even stronger than her mother irrespective of her horrible circumstances.
On the other hand, after their capture by the slavers, Aminata witnesses Fantas struggle for survival. Aminata describes Fanta as a strong woman who struggled to maintain her superior position at camp. Hill portrays Fanta as ruthless with regard to her power at camp, especially following her capture by slavers. Fantas primary struggle is to maintain her power. This is especially made clear by her constant pursuit to position herself superior to Aminata. However, Fantas struggle for power is an illusion as she will never get away from Applebees plantation. Also, Fanta struggles for survival, and this pushes her to perpetrate despicable acts such as killing her child, as well as Sanus child. Her actions aim at putting an end to the childrens suffering as she perceived them as too innocent and weak to survive the harsh environment of the slave camp.
Conversely, Sanu epitomizes the struggle to remain optimistic and humble despite her cruel environment and circumstances. Hill portrays Sanu as a contrast to Fanta as the former constantly endeavors to remain humble and optimistic in spite of her situation. Also, throughout Sanu and Aminatas time together, Sanu struggles to protect and care for Aminata like a substitute mother. Furthermore, Sanu also struggles to protect her child once she is born. After the birth of her child, Sanu names her after Aminata and struggles to protect her by all means. This struggle comes to the fore when Sanu sacrifices her wellbeing to recover her child after Fanta tosses her overboard. Moreover, throughout the novel, Hill portrays Sanu as the epitome of a maternal figure whose constant pursuits consist of ensuring the well-being of everyone around her. When contrasted with Fanta, Sanu represents the opposite power women possess. This includes the power to unite, care for, and protect other individuals.
Another woman who epitomizes struggle in Hills novel is the character of Georgia. Georgias struggle is much like that of Aminatas mother, which involves the struggle to act as a guide, as well as a beacon of strength within the New World. Georgia struggles to protect Aminata while at the plantation. She also takes on the responsibility of teaching Aminata how to remain strong irrespective of her circumstances. For instance, whenever Applebee forced himself on Aminata and displayed his authority over her, Georgia would save Aminata in the aftermath, essentially representing Aminatas dignity. However, in spite of her struggle to save Aminata, Georgia is not always successful, but she still does everything she can to help Aminata afterward. In the end, Georgias constant assistance makes her Aminatas closest friend, and one of only two individuals in whom Aminata can confide.
After attaining her freedom, Aminata also encounters other free women who struggle for survival. However, for once, Aminata serves as the womens source of strength as she teaches them and cares for them. Aminatas encounters with the women in canvas town as endeavor they to improve their lives, as well as the women in Holy Ground further demonstrates the womens struggles to survive amid their newly found freedom. On the other hand, Aminatas life is the embodiment of struggle as she is forced to deal with loss, captivity, and despair, as well as to remain optimistic about a better future. Aminata experiences significant loss in her personal life as an adult as her son is immediately taken away from her after his birth. Also, she also loses her three-year-old daughter, May who is taken away by a white woman. Furthermore, Aminatas husband, Chekura is constantly away from home for long durations. Ultimately, despite being married and having a life partner, Aminata constantly struggles with loneliness. It is only once she moves to Nova Scotia, and eventually to England that Aminata can effectively make a connection with men. However, even the two men with whom she makes a connection appear to be dependent on her. For instance, Daddy Moses, a blind, crippled senior man needed Aminatas help completing normal tasks while John Clarkson depended on her to further his abolitionism movement.
The Book of Negroes tells the tale of diverse women who experience significant struggles in their pursuit of survival, happiness, and freedom. Throughout the novel, Hill depicts women as strong despite their horrible circumstances. In the end, the authors construction of the characters stories is critical for highlighting themes such as human struggle. The individuals struggles are evident throughout the novel alongside their endeavors to conquer their tough circumstances and attain physical and mental wellbeing. Ultimately, the theme of struggle is perhaps one of the most outstanding in the novel, The Book of Negroes. Hill uses the characters of women to epitomize this theme and to demonstrate their pursuits to conquer their struggles.
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