This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Middle Passage Essay

1255 words - 5 pages

Examination into the true heart of experience and meaning, Charles Johnson’s Middle Passage looks at the structures of identity and the total transformation of the self. The novel talks about the hidden assumptions of human and literary identity and brings to view the real problems of these assumptions through different ideas of allusion and appropriation. As the novel tells Rutherford Calhoun’s transformation of un-awareness allows him to cross “the sea of suffering” (209) making him forget who he really is. The novel brings forth the roots of human “being” and the true complications and troubles of African American experiences. Stuck between posed questions of identity, the abstract body is able to provide important insight into the methods and meanings in Middle Passage.

Middle Passage’s protagonist , Rutherford Calhoun, shows that identity is a dangerous “middle” experience for the African American offspring that endured the middle passage. As a survivor of a unknown place and subject to total isolation of his own personal experiences we find Rutherford searching for meaning. The novel questions the structure of human and literary identity by testing the power of duel oppositions and abstraction to portray the meaning of experience: "Our faith in fiction comes from an ancient belief that language and literary art all speaking and showing-clarify our experience" (Being 3). By questioning the African-American experience, Johnson radicalizes faith and is able to show the complexities of experience and change. Johnson’s examination into identity, which we can see as both human and textual, depends mainly on the appropriation for its literal and pensive methods. This contradictory space of allusion and appropriation, opens space for a smooth transition in which Rutherford transforms. The novels examination of both the human and literary identity can be looked at in three different areas: the body, culture and text. As the fundamentals of the text work to show explanations of meaning and motive the text tends to confront its own contradictory claims to imagination and inaccuracy. These three different areas use allusion and appropriation to set up the text’s body and its essences of questioning the self.
The body occupies an important part of Middle Passage, for small moments such as Rutherford’s hiccuping whenever he seems to get himself into a philosophical dilemma (125-260) to the enfolding of death and unconsciousness that marks Rutherford’s most profound transformation: “Then I fainted. Or died. Whatever. (171)” The boundaries between body “non-body”, between individual experience and universal process, break down in the novel's process to loose the reliance on the body for its identification. This lose of identity brings forth Rutherford's shifting perspective on gender relations, and the encounter with the Allmuseri. Rutherford's grasp on the boundaries of life and death, gender shifts from the...

Find Another Essay On Middle Passage

The Middle Passage by Charles Johnson

1389 words - 6 pages In the novel “The Middle Passage” by Charles Johnson, mental slavery is a huge factor that is used throughout the book. Metal slavery is the inability to view events, or one’s self, differently from commonly held beliefs. This explains that if you have heard something that is most likely not true and will not research history on it, but spread it around as if you did thus being ignorant as the person that told you. I think that mental slavery is

Exploration of Bondage in Middle Passage

1154 words - 5 pages Bondage can be defined as a state of subjection to a force, power, or influence or the state of being under the control of another person. Throughout the novel Middle Passage, written by Charles Johnson, bondage is a reoccurring theme. The characters in the novel are bonded physically, emotionally, or psychologically. Some characters are bonded and can not escape their bondage. Others choose to place themselves in the situations. Throughout the

Colonial and Post-Colonial Mentalities in the Middle Passage

1280 words - 6 pages so, how do authors weave the colonial and post-colonial mentalities into the framework of certain texts. Charles Johnson’s Middle Passage advances both colonial mentalities as well as post-colonial perspectives. The novel sheds light on traditional European colonial notions African savagery, the inferiority of African people as sub-human and commodities, and—at the same instant—presents the post-colonial perspective of the archetypical American

This is a first person analysis essay on the Middle Passage Slave Trade

1167 words - 5 pages History has forgotten those who died in the Middle passage. For me it was just yesterday. As white men came into my village and tore me away from everything I had ever known. Taking me to an unknown ship which would be worse than a living death.I saw the ships coming into port. Lined up in front and behind me were hundreds of others who had been "selected" to go to this new world. They branded us and shackled our wrists and ankles, leaving just

"The Middle Passage" A short story in the first person of a slave being taking from their homeland, Africa, across the Atlantic

317 words - 2 pages My life has never been as good as others but before the Middle Passage, it had at least been civil. I have my wife and my children and together we managed even in times of doubt.Then came the voyage from my homeland, Africa, across the Atlantic. I was one of over 600 people taken from their work, life and loved ones onto what they called a slaving vessel. This vessel was about 30 metres long and 8 metres wide. I must have been on the vessel for

Roots, the first part of the movie. What life was like for most Africans prior to the slave trade and the horrors of the Middle Passage

690 words - 3 pages grabbed Kunta, put him in shackles and brought him to the shoreline. There were cages set up, and Kunta was thrown in with other tribe members. They stayed in this cage until the capacity of black people to fill the boat was met. Once the boat was full, they were let out of the cage. They were placed in the cargo area at the bottom of a ship and were all chained together. There were 140 taken on the ship.The Middle Passage was the worst thing that

The Grotesque Gem of the American South: Different Approaches to the Okefenokee Swamp

1079 words - 5 pages Deep in the American South lies a swamp so vast, so diverse, so mysterious, perspective changes its very nature. The appeal of this swamp, the Okefenokee Swamp, as an inspiration for writers lies not only in its mystery, but also its many faces. Describing the swamp, from its terrain to its inhabitants, authors can bring out its beauty or terror, depending on their purpose. While both Passage 1 and Passage 2 define and describe the Okefenokee

The Awakening Analytical Essay

955 words - 4 pages the chaos and confusion marking Edna’s mind as she approaches this fateful moment. On the other side this also allows the readers to have a larger view of things where Edna just happens to be a speck under the sway of circumstances. This unique exploitation of the narrative view allows the writer to catch the twin forces of personal conviction and destiny shaping this particular moment in Edna’s life. Somewhere down the middle of the passage the

Essay on the short story: "The Rattler"

826 words - 3 pages , the use of language and details about the man, the snake, and the setting invites the reader to feel sympathetic toward the snake and the man.The passage evokes feelings of sympathy by providing details about the man's feelings and thoughts. A scene in which the passage evokes feeling is when the man is out for a walk and he unexpectedly comes upon the snake in middle of the path. The speaker's first instinct "was to let him [the snake] go on

Prose passage from “The Kite Runner”

711 words - 3 pages weren’t friends which is ironic to Amirs situation. This passage shows the readers that from the beginning Amir's father did not refer to Ali as his friend but when Ali and Hassan leave towards the middle of the novel the irony is Baba cannot deal with losing Ali. This irony also relates to when Amir feels the same way about Hassan. Amir does not know what to think of Hassan during this passage but it helps lead up to the end of the novel to show

The ballad of the sad cafe

812 words - 3 pages described as a rich and inherited the building from her father, who used it to carry staple food for the townspeople. She is described as a dark, tall woman with a body structure like a man. Miss Amelia was cross eyed, but nonetheless pretty. It is evident that this last paragraph in the passage is the flashback to when the town was lively. When we look back at the middle of passage, McCullers had described a ghostly being in the boarded up

Similar Essays

Middle Passage Essay

1054 words - 5 pages In the beginning of the 1600's and towards the ending of the 1800's millions of innocent people were grabbed and torn away from their homelands leaving their independence behind. Primarily African men, women, and children were traded, as if they were dirt; being shipped and sold. Once sold, they were mostly forced to do very laborious jobs such as plantation workers and factory workers. The middle passage, also known as part of the triangular

Middle Passage Movie Essay

560 words - 2 pages The "Middle Passage" was the journey of slave trading ships from the west coast of Africa, where the slaves were obtained, across the Atlantic, where they were sold or in some cases traded for goods. However, this voyage has come to be remembered for much more than simply the transport and sale of slaves. The "Middle Passage" was the longest, hardest, most dangerous, and also most horrific part of the journey of the slave ships. Based on "Amidas

The Middle Passage Essay

1017 words - 4 pages The Middle Passage was that leg of the slave triangle that brought the human cargo from West Africa to North America, South America, and the Caribbean. The term Middle Passage was used to describe the triangular route of trade that brought Africans to America and rum and sugar cane to Europe. This term was also used because it was middle leg of a three-part voyage. The first leg of voyage carried a cargo that includes iron, cloth, brandy

The Extreme Cruelty Of The Middle Passage

1803 words - 7 pages There is no other experience in history where innocent African Americans encountered such a brutal torment. This infamous ordeal is called the Middle Passage or the “middle leg” of the Triangular Trade, which was the forceful voyage of African Americans from Africa to the New World. The Africans were taken from their homeland, boarded onto the dreadful ships, and scattered into the New World as slaves. 10- 16 million Africans were shipped across