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Black Thunder Essay

981 words - 4 pages

An Unsuccessful Revolt?
A revolt does not need to be successful to be influential. A reviewer states, “Probably the most fateful year in the history of American Negro slave revolts is that of 1800, for it was then that Nat Turner and John Brown were born, that Denmark Vesey bought his freedom, and it was then that the great conspiracy named after Gabriel, slave of Tomas H. Prosser of Henrico Country, Virginia, occurred” (Aptheker 219). The book Black Thunder: Gabriel’s Revolt written by Arna Bontemps is a historical novel that takes place in Virginia in 1800. It shows what the slaves at this time were experiencing and it is in their point of view, rather than the view from the slave ...view middle of the document...

Ben’s “heart fluttered with pleasure” when called a “good boy” by a white man. He respects his master and in the end is faithful to him when he turns in the names of the leaders in the revolt. Bundy is completely different from Ben. He just wants to be free; he wants to die a free man. Bundy is more rebellious. He does not have as much respect for his master as Ben does and he is caught with a jug of rum by his master who then beats him to death. His death is significant because it helps give Gabriel justification to go on with his plan of revolt and it is also a reason Ben joins in the beginning. Gabriel could also be a foil character to Ben because he never gives up. He is not faithful to his master as Ben is and he is left all alone in the end. Enduring many difficulties and struggles, he manages to show courage and strength. These characters, like all of the characters in Black Thunder, have many imperfections and flaws that make them very realistic which is essential because this is a historical novel. They are not made out to be these huge heroes or superficial characters.
Although I found Black Thunder to be slow moving and lacking lots of action, it was still very interesting. The fact that it is a historical novel and realistic made it a rather intriguing read. Bontemps also does a good job with the parts of the novel that aren’t real historical events, like all the views from the slaves. He writes, “Liberty, equality, frater-it was a strange music, a strange music. And was it true that in another country white men fought for these things, died for them?” Here Bontemps does a great job expressing what one of the slaves, Gabriel, is thinking. Gabriel, because he is...

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