Three posts won’t be able to get all my thoughts and feelings about this book but I thought I would try. The last part of the book or major chapter of Aminata is so long and filled with more sorrow that I almost forgot Appleby because by that point he was so long into her past.
After Aminata has lost her baby, she has no will to live and she becomes sick. She is extremely fragile both in physical and mental state that Appleby sells her “stupid no-good Guinea wench” to Solomon Lindo the indigo inspector of the region. Actually, a few months earlier before she was introduced to Lindo and other men who are part of the slave trade. One of the men tries to rape her but she is luckily saved when Lindo walks back into the room. For me Solomon Lindo is an interesting character because I do feel that he tries to be a good man and displays growth throughout the novel. I’m glad he is not part of her life and helps to at least wash away some of the pain she experienced with Appleby. She departs for her new life in Charles Town and Lindo promises her to treat her as a servant instead of a slave. Lindo does treat her with the kindness he promises by treating her with respect. She meets Dolly who is another servant at the Lindo household, despite the fact that she doesn’t become as close to her as she did with Georgia they become friends. Due to Aminata’s intelligence, Lindo decides to put her to better use and teachers her more reading and gives her books to practice. He then gets her to earn money by catching babies in the town. He says,” I knew you would catch on fast. I saw the intelligence in your eyes and I wanted to lift you up,” (pg 201). She even gets to catch Ms. Lindo’s baby and takes care of him. But unfortunately the pox kills a lot of the villagers including Ms. Lindo and her son, and Dolly. For me it was simply put very sad. Throughout the few chapters that Ms. Lindo was in Aminata’s life, she treated her like an equal and with true kindness. She gave her books for her service and always advocated for her when her husband would be strict. Even Aminata states, ” I had trusted her more than any other white person, and had come to care for her son David like a child of my own,” (215). In a way Ms. Lindo protected Aminata and there was a connection between them. After their deaths, Mr. Lindo changed drastically and his actions towards Aminata also change. He has no heart to care for her and Aminata realizes the truth that he was the one who arranged the transaction of selling her son. That is the moment when she disentangles herself from his life and she doesn’t want to hear his excuses. But when he leaves for New York City he takes her with him to start a new life and try to mend their relationship. However, riots break out in the city due to the American Revolutionary War and Aminata has the opportunity to escape while Lindo flees back to Carolina.
In New York, Aminata is again really quick to make friends and after the British surrender, they offer slaves who have worked for them asylum in Nova Scotia. I like this book because it easily threads different issues and pieces of history into a very interesting life. I learned a lot about the historical backdrop of the story as well as a personal account which is very fascinating due to the realism that peaks its way inside. The issues discussed parallel nicely with the themes. When the slaves are offered asylum, Aminata’s friends touch upon a wonderful point. They talk about trust and how can they ever trust people who treated the way that they did. I see validity in their arguments, but Aminata’s wisdom really reaches more than her age because in her mind she know’s there is no other choice but to keep fighting each day and the only way to survive is to trust the British because continually living in New York is more dangerous than handing herself back to those who captured her in the beginning. Her friend Sam whom she befriends helps her along the way and gives her the advice to keep moving when more terrible circumstances arise.
There are so many events that arise but I’ll briefly discuss three more major points that occur in the last book. One of the first is when Appleby finds her again and drags her to court to make her come back with him. When she declares that she is actually Lindo’s, not many believe her without her documents of proof. Luckily, Sam helps by finding Lindo and bringing him to court. It was like a breath of fresh air when he comes to let her go. At this point of time Aminata has another child with Chekura and when Lindo reads out the documents of truth (the slave trading of both her and her son Mamadu), she can’t help but dash out the door to save her child from hearing such poison. At that point in time she can’t yet forgive Lindo or thank him for giving back what had always been hers. She can’t hate him but she can’t forgive him either. When Lindo tries to make amends by talking to her, she can’t listen and leaves. That was the closing of the book about Lindo and Aminata. In a way, that scene made me depressed because Lindo really did mess up and Aminata deserves every right to not talk to him. But I do feel that Lindo is trying hard to make up the mistakes he made in the past.
The second point is that Aminata decides to go to Nova Scotia (hence the no choice but to trust in the British one more time). But her husband took the ship before her while she chose to stay a bit longer. She does hope to see him one day while in the meantime she works by entering the names of slaves who want asylum in the Book of Negroes. That book itself is a symbol for so many different things: suffering, sacrifice, and hope are just a few. The book though also represents broken promises because unfortunately the British lie to the slaves once again. The promises that good awaits them is quickly brushed away when Aminata finally arrives in Canada. Everything is the most difficult that Aminata has had in a while because surviving throughout the day is her priority. The regret Aminata describes makes me feel disappointed as well. Because I wonder what it must feel like to be fed so many lies all the time only to have it all come hurtling back on me and hurt me even more. After all these revelations, she doesn’t want to give the British ‘second’ chances because she has finally learned her mistakes.
A lot conspires between the major events I would like to discuss but because of the depth and complexity of the book there is simply too much to discuss. I will hopefully talk more about aspects not covered in my blogs during my presentation!
The third point is despite everything that has happened in Aminata’s life, she is incredibly lucky. She doesn’t know where her husband is, and her second child, May, is taken by the Witherspoons who she previously befriended. This is the third time that her heart is stabbed by an emotional infliction that will be very difficult to heal. When she learns of her husband’s death, she decided to make a journey back to her homeland. While various things happen when she is given the opportunity to go back to Sierra Leone (she learns that she is from Africa), she crosses paths with abolitionist Clarkson who wants to end the slave trade. Trying to immerse herself back within her country is very difficult because the villagers now there do not want her back. Realizing that she can never really return to her hometown, she heads back with Clarkson to join the other abolitionists to end slavery. This is where we are led back into present day! Her writing accounts of her experience with slavery and the amazing feat that she is still alive despite everything that has happened to her gives her a lot of attention in the newspapers. With this newfound coverage, it is then that her long lost daughter May finally finds her again. They embrace and in that moment I can’t but finally feel so happy and let out a breath I didn’t know I was holding. In the end, it seems that everything is worth it because while Aminata thought she lost everything, in the most unexpected times she found her everything again. At this point in time, Aminata is very old and she is soon going to die. Her daughter takes care of her and we are left with Aminata still striving to end slavery in Parliament.
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