The Slave Ship, by Marcus Rediker was wrote in 2007 about the cruel and brutal actions the slaves endured on their journey across the Atlantic Ocean. He states, “this has been a painful book to write, if I have done any justice to the subject, it will be a painful book to read.” Marcus Rediker accomplished exactly that. This book was not only compelling but emotional, heartbreaking, and makes a reader think, how could someone be so cruel to another living being. Within the first couple pages, the book brought me to tears. He mainly focused on the 1700’s when Britain controlled most of the slave trade throughout the world. During the book, Rediker informs the reader about the tortured slaves as they were shipped from West Africa to the new world. Marcus Rediker, a professor at the University of Pittsburg, taught history and starting researching the slave trade by …show more content…
Many slaves being shipped to America had been betrayed by their own race, kidnapped and sold into slavery. The conditions on the ship were horrendous and each man was chained to an area and given about six feet long by fifteen inches wide. The boats were extremely packed with close corners and no bathroom, and women or children got even less space than the men. Many a times, the crew tried to justify the chaining by stating the it was a form of protection to avoid an uprising. In one of the examples Rediker gave, the slave ship, with Captain Tomba, who was known for brutal beatings including whipping, handing out cruel punishments to scare the other slaves into not acting out. He selected three less valuable slaves, killed one, and forced the others to eat his heart. Many of the ships were followed by, what Marcus called them, “greedy robbers.” Human waste and bodies were thrown off often enough to constantly have sharks following the ship, greedily waiting for the next over
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Charles Johnson's use of journal entries in his novel, The Middle Passage, is a powerful literary device that enhances the impact of the story. By incorporating personal accounts and first-hand experiences of characters, Johnson brings a level of authenticity and emotional depth to the novel that would be impossible to achieve through narration alone. Johnson's use of journal entries in The Middle Passage is a key factor in its ability to convey the horrors of the transatlantic slave trade and the impact it had on the lives of those who were forced to endure it. One of the most striking aspects of The Middle Passage is the vividness and detail with which Johnson portrays the experience of being a slave aboard a slave ship.
Marcus Rediker captured the stories and events of past-time common day slaves; he transformed their words into the common language to which most American people understood. Although his book unveiled the terrifying, tragic every day life of slavery, the overall message of the book was powerful and eye opening. Captives of the African continent withstood an extraneous amount of suffering through the process of becoming a slave, through the magnitudes they overcame from many forms of resistance, and real life accounts, which influenced many to join the abolishment movement. The insight that Rediker gave to many people that were skeptical about slavery and gave them a way to choose a side. Marcus Rediker’s emphasis of slaves, sailors, and slave
The theme of slavery still, to this day, remains and the world doesn’t need to remain shy on this brutal topic. Gaspar, David Barry, and Darlene Clark Hine. Black Women and Slavery in the Americas: More Than Chattel. Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1996. Print.
Many of the sailors were accurately portrayed by their actions, by throwing slaves into the ocean, flogging, beaten, tortured, and other forms of cruel punishment. “Alexander Falconbridge was a surgeon on slave ships in the 18th century. An abolitionist and governor himself is guilty of all the violent attacks towards slaves. A disgraces to human nature, and profound language were brutal examples sailors often used towards slaves.” ( First Hand; Accounts Study).
People consider a slave ship in the 1700s one of the scariest and most dangerous places on Earth at the time. Equiano describes the wicked conditions of the transatlantic slave trade and its affects on him and his peers. Equiano writes, “One day, when we had a smooth sea and moderate wind, two of my wearied countrymen who were chained together, preferring death to such a life of misery, somehow made through the nettings and jumped into the sea,” (Equiano 173). In these lines Equiano gives the reader an idea of the horrifying events on the ships including the death of his companions. Portraying this to readers helps them empathize with his experiences through the imagery of his work.
Equiano explained that the crew above him had just caught a significant number of fish and that they had eaten and eaten until they were fully content; after, however, instead of giving the remains to the slaves, they disposed of it overboard. The following quote recounts the subsequent reactions of the prisoners, "some of my countrymen, being pressed for hunger, took an opportunity, when they thought no one saw them, of trying to get a little privately". These companions of his were starving, both literally, and with indignation--so they took matters into their own hands. Stealing fish in reprisal to their hunger and mistreatment was a form of rebellion. Although, interestingly enough, when Equiano wrote about the spectacle, he didn’t mention himself taking any part in it.
One example of this occurred when a ship’s captain ordered the “ship’s surgeons to stop the anus of each of [the slaves infected with flux] with oakum” (Document 10). This treatment was painful and humiliating to the already sick and suffering slaves. This practice highlighted the selfishness of the Europeans, who deceived other and hurt slaves in order to help themselves earn money. These cruel men did not abandon the chain methods on the boats either. The slave traders would chain poor slaves “to the decks by the neck and legs”, the position and feeling of entrapment resulted in so much pain and discomfort that meaning were “driven to a frenzy” (Document 6).
A lot of slaves during the voyage to the America’s committed suicide as opposed to being a slave for the rest of their lives. The majority of the slaves were whipped on a regular basis with leather straps that were a few feet long. When slaves weren’t cooperative of the plantation owner’s rules, they were punished. Slaves were punished for simply moving too slow or not being disobedient in the slave master’s eyes. Most slaves were beaten ruthlessly, starved, and sometimes were killed in an instant.
Throughout the narrative, the author includes his personal stories about experiencing the violence of slavery first-hand. For example, on page 20, he writes about the first time he witnessed a slave, his own aunt, getting the whip. “The louder she screamed, the harder he whipped; and where the blood ran fastest, there he whipped longest…I remember the first time I ever witnessed this horrible exhibition… It struck me with awful force. It was the blood-stained gate, the entrance to the hell of slavery…” The author including his experience of his aunts whipping, in detail, appeals to the emotions of the reader.
The conditions of the ships the slaves were on and the minds of the slaves are detailed most effectively in this first person documentary. Sharing the story of the enslavement and subsequent freedom of the brothers and their probable return to the slave trade gives a better insight into the journey of slavery from the eyes of the enslaved and those doing the enslavement. Sparks story helps the reader understand that the same Africans that were sold as slaves, were also involved in the selling of slaves. He also defends the brothers decision to enslave others explaining that since this was part of their culture, they didn’t know anything else or how to live any other way than to enslave others as they once were
Leonard Outhwaite in his book The Atlantic: A History of an Ocean (1996) presents the Atlantic and how humans have interacted with its waters. In Orlando Patterson’s book Slavery and Social Death (2006), Patterson explains what slavery is and how it has manifested in history. Both Patterson and Outhwaite (1996) address the Atlantic Slave trade with similar content, but they diverge in regard to who they were writing for, and in what they wanted to impress upon the reader. The comparison of the two texts reveals that Outhwaite gives a more detailed portrayal of how the Atlantic slave trade changed throughout its history. Both Patterson (2006) and Outhwaite (1996) target an academic audience, but Outhwaite writes for academics that are interested
Marcus Rediker, professor and graduate from the University of Pittsburgh relays the story of the slave trade, a treacherous happening through the 17th and 18th century. He captures these events as a magnificent drama, letting people know what kind of hell the slave trade really was. Rediker mentions W.E.B DuBois who was an African-American scholar-activist who claimed the slave trade was one of the most magnificent dramas (4), talking about the terror and the horror constantly brought upon the slave ship. Rediker claims the slave trade to be “the making of global capitalism” as there was no way around the terror and violence these souls went through by the trade
Equiano described the horrors of a slave ship based on his firsthand experience. He describes what it was like to be thrown onto a ship, the indescribable smell of being crammed on the deck with so many other slaves, and the floggings he and the other slaves received for not eating. The slaves were so tightly packed together the air was dangerous to breath, and many of the slaves became sick and died from it, while others suffocated to death. Men were pushed to the brink of starvation, tried to steal food, and were severely flogged for it. Others tried to jump overboard and drown rather than accept their life of misery.
On September 6, 1781, Captain Sir Luke Collingwood loaded his ship at Saint Thomas on the African coast with a cargo of four hundred seventy (470) slaves en route to Jamaica. The ship had taken on more slaves than it could safely transport. Losing more than sixty Africans and nearly half of the Zong’s crew to illness, Capt. Collingwood ordered all infected individuals to be thrown into the ocean.