Although she doubts herself through most of the book, Amari gains strength through her awful experiences. Afi sees this strength in Amari already when she is on the “ship of death,” as does Teenie. However, through these incredibly trying times, Amari doubts herself. It is this vague, unreachable strength the other women see that gives Amari the hope to continue as well. She acknowledges this hope right after her capture. As the novel progresses, we see a swelling in Amari’s sense of injustice, to the point that she is almost ready to turn to physical violence against the Derbys. It is in the sense of injustice that we can see Amari’s strength; if her spirit had truly died, she would not have felt rage but wouldhave instead given up, like Besa. She also assumes a leadership role during the escape and takes Tidbit as her own child. It is her fighting and protective instinct that pushes her to seek a better way for herself, and this also demonstrates her strong sense of self.
Polly starts out as Amari’s foil and then becomes nearly a mirror image of her. Her prejudice and her race are the greatest differences between her and Amari, but as Polly spends more time with Amari, she no longer sees Amari as “less” than her. In fact, in the time they are running away to Fort Mose, Amari takes more of a leadership role despite Polly being white and, supposedly, more “superior” culturally.
Polly also represents the non-privileged white people in America. She, too, has had a difficult life with poverty and bondage, and she represents a realistic portrayal of the American people.
Percival, Clay, and Isabelle Derby
The two men of Derbyshire Farms are the clearest representation of the evils of this awful period in American history. They demonstrate a frightening superiority complex over the African-Americans, which allows them to be able to manipulate, use, and abuse them without any remorse. Their arrogance spews out in their ridiculous assumptions about what the black people “want” from the white people and in the way they treat their slaves like animals….
Do you think Draper did a good job of merging fact with the fiction in Copper Sun? Why or why not? After reading this novel, what do you think are the benefits and drawbacks of writing a novel set in such an iconic historical period? Be sure to include examples from the text to help strengthen your arguments.
How does Polly's slavery compare / contrast to Amari's slavery? Why do you think Draper chose to include the narrative of an indentured servant in the novel? How does Polly's voice add to your depth of understanding about this time in history? Be sure to include examples from the text to help strengthen your arguments.
Describe the social setting of the community of Amari's African village, Ziavi. How does this social structure compare / contrast to the social structure of American life during 1738? Based on this exploration of...
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