Saturday, August 3, 2019

Crying Souls in The Slave Dancer :: Slave Dancer Essays

Crying Souls in The Slave Dancer It all began in the cold month of January, 1840, in a town familiar to many; New Orleans. Fog laid a heavy blanket on the streets and alleyways of the city. Rain steadily engulfed the seaside locality, and the sound of drunken riverboat men and the slaves celebrating their terrible festivities surrounded the area. New Orleans was the location where Jessie Bollier lived, and 'tis the place where he was captured on that dark January evening. Jessie then found himself aboard The Moonlight, the slaver with its towering sails and masts, cabins and storage space under the deck. For these were places where Jessie had to 'dance the slaves' and where the captain and crew would spend many weeks living in fear of the slaves, of each other, and of getting caught. The story then briefly took the ship's crew and captain to Whydah in the Bight of Benin, the rugged coasts of Africa, where the multitudes of slaves were captured and mistreated. They then made their way across the Atlantic once again to land in the Gulf of Mexico. The Moonlight was anchored there and stayed because it was here where the ship submerged. Two passengers then washed up to the shores of Mississippi where Jessie and Ras meet Daniel, their soon to be friend. Finally, the story concludes in the place it began...the clamoring streets of New Orleans. The Slave Dancer is written in first person point of view, through Jessie's eyes, and projects a depressing, melancholy mood. It is the tragic song of the slaves. The hero of the story is the thirteen year old boy, Jessie Bollier. "He's a fearful runt," comments Captain Cawthorne. He is brought on board the slaver to make the slaves dance, to keep them healthy. Jessie innocent and does not fully understand his purpose. "My life h ad turned upside down. My friend was a man who pressganged me. I disliked the man who befriended me." Jessie does not realize what is going on within him. He does not realize that these men, these women, and children are slaves...are owned. He does not perceive the cruel treatment of the slaves, but does not know why. Jessie himself puts it best, "My stomach rebelled." The antagonist is surprisingly Jessie, but after the voyage. He went through many changes after the excursion. "At first, I made a promise to myself: I would do nothing that was connected with the use of slaves.

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