In order to understand a piece of literature, we must examine the text in a deeper meaning rather than just viewing it in an obvious manner. Although the author writes the piece of literature, it does not mean the author determines what the text means. The readers determine the meaning of the text. The meaning of the text exist somewhere between the words on the page and the reader’s mind (Shmoop).
The first section of The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill, is not exactly what I had expected. The story of the book is fictional, but the history is very real. As a reader and a 18 year-old African-Canadian woman, I can feel the pain and fear of young, 11 year- old, Aminata Diallo, is going through. I found it upsetting to read about such a young girl and the harsh events she lived in, since our ages are not that far apart. I couldn’t imagine going through what Aminata Witnessing the deaths of my parents would be the most devastating situation I could go through. Although her parents taught her a lot about life, I don’t believe it was enough before they left. The aspects of life should be properly taught to a child because facing reality with no background knowledge about the world is difficult to handle at a young age. I believe the author included the death of Aminata’s parents in the book to bring out Aminata’s character. The aspect of the book would be different if her parents went through the horrific experiences with Aminata. I believe the book wouldn’t be about Aminata as much, but more about her parents. Aminata wouldn’t have to make her own decisions during difficult times if her parents were present through out the travel.y It is important for society to learn the history of horrific events that occurred so it is not repeated. Discrimination and slavery is such a cruel act to put upon a person. The impression the book is giving me about the author is that Lawrence Hill is someone who wants to expand the minds of the world about events that have been neglected to be told.
The author includes different languages in book. As I read, I wonder why he only repeats the one phrase and translates the other languages with a indication that the character is speaking a different language. Aminata repeats, “Allaahu Akbar” throughout the book, which means “God is great” in Arabic. I believe the author includes the phrases to remind us of the place the event is taking place in which begins in Africa. When he includes these phrases it helps me get to know the characters. Lawrence Hill also may be using this as a mental image for readers. The language of others form an image in my mind of how they may look. The author also separates different cultures of Africa by their physical appearance. Aminata identifies Chekura as being from the village of Kinta by the marks on his cheeks (Hill 35).
At this point, I believe the book is difficult to predict what will happen next. The book is separated into different individual books. It makes me nervous about what might happen to Aminata since everyone that was held captive attacked the captors and the toubabs. Aminata had no part of the attack as she didn’t know what was being planned. Aminata was no longer treated differently from everyone else since the captives could no longer be trusted. I believe Aminata is losing hope in survival across the waters and on a new land, as she says “I am cold, and I can’t even pray, Allah doesn’t live here” (94). Aminata will become lost because she is in a new land. Her midwifery and knowledge in several languages is what is keeping her alive. I believe Aminata will think she cannot proceed her skills in an unfamiliar land where she was not taught. Leaving her homeland also left behind Allah (God) and her parents.
As I analyze the book in a Reader Response literary theory, I understand the book a lot easier. My strengths as a reader to analyze the meaning of the text gets better as I can relate to the text. There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to a reader response theory (Readers Response to Literary). This helps me expand my mind since my thoughts can flow freely without worrying about if my theory about the literature piece is wrong.
Hill, Lawrence. The Book of Negroes. New York: W.W. Norton, 2015. Print.
“Reader’s Response in Literature.” Reader’s Response — Activities and Strategies to Engage Students in Reading. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Apr. 2017.
Shmoop Editorial Team. “Reader-Response Theory.” Shmoop. Shmoop University, 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 16 Apr. 2017.
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