The Book Of Negroes (Someone Knows My Name) By Lawrence Hill

1329 words - 5 pages

Aminata Diallo is an eleven years old African girl, when her life changes completely, as she goes from a beloved daughter to an orphan that is captured and enslaved. Aminata is shown in the novel Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill as a strong young protagonist that is able to survive the odyssey around the world first as a slave and later as a free activist agent of the British. In the book, her various stages of her life are always connected with the clothes that she is wearing or the lack of clothes and show the degree of dehumanization that accompanies slavery.
The first thing the slavers do is to strip their prisoners naked, since they treat the people that they capture not as humans, but as a commodity from which they want to gain a profit. They train their prey from the moment of internment, “they began with humiliation, they tore the clothes off our backs” (Hill 29). Aminata is a Muslim, and the reader is able to ascertain in the first pages how full of pride her people were and how much they valued their families. Women were the main workers and Aminata was trained from her mother in being a midwife. The village life is shown as a normal community encompassing jealousy and other customary happenings. When Aminata first is captured, she becomes an orphan, since the slave traders murder her parents. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, to humiliate somebody means “to lower or depress the dignity or self-respect of; to mortify” (humiliate). The first thing the captors do to the newly captured is therefore to take their dignity and consequently their humanity away. The captors make it clear to the caught that they see them as a commodity; humans are wares that they plan to sell in order to make money. They are not treating them as fellow human beings with feelings and dignity. It obviously works, since Aminata says, “I did not want to be noticed, seen or known by anybody, in my present state” (Hill 31). The little girl internalizes the humiliation and while she will retain her undisputable spirit in the novel, she however wonders where a being without clothes could flee to, “To where could a naked person run?”(Hill 31). The captors know how to crush the spirit of the captives and recognize how to manipulate them, so that they are discouraged from trying to escape. The yokes around their necks of course help this, since they degrade the slaves even more and make them comparable to animals, which is what the captors wanted and with this, they have succeeded in mortifying their prey.
However, Aminata is shown to have gained a slight amount of being able to control her life, by getting an item of clothing, when she is on the horrifying slave vessel enduring the middle passage along with countless other slaves under atrocious conditions. The white doctor gives Aminata “some red cloth” and for a little while she has a dubious privileged position on the ship undertaking the long and malodorous passage over the Atlantic (Hill 72). The...

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