Sethe was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but 18 years later she still isn’t free; instead, she’s haunted by the ghost of her daughter and memories of the past.
Below are some reading passages that we have hand picked to supplement this book. Be sure to read the passage summaries and our suggestions for instructional use.
In Sojourner Truth’s speech “Ain’t I a Woman?” Truth discusses women’s rights at the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention in 1851.
Harriet Ann Jacobs (1813-1897), who wrote under the pseudonym Linda Brendt, was an American slave who eventually escaped and became an abolitionist. “What Slaves are Taught to Think of the North” is a chapter from Brent’s memoir Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, published in 1861. In it, Jacobs provides a true account of her experience as a slave, and writes about the lies slaveholders told their slaves to keep them from running away to the North.
Frederick Douglass (1818 –1895) was born a slave but became a social reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer, and statesman. In chapter 11 of his memoir, Douglass describes his escape from slavery and the challenges he faced upon becoming a free man.
In this poem, contemporary American writer and Pulitzer Prize winner Rita Dove reinvents a common symbol--the heart--and in doing so, shows us what it means to be human.
In Paul Laurence Dunbar’s poem “Sympathy,” Dunbar uses the experiences of a caged to bird to discuss the oppression of African Americans.
In “No Man Is an Island,” the speaker explains the interconnectedness of all humankind.
The Fugitive Slave Act was enacted by the United States Congress in 1793, and then later renewed in 1850. This act guaranteed slave owners the right to recover run-away slaves. When the Thirteenth Amendment was passed, abolishing slavery, the Fugitive Slave Act lost its power.
In “Margaret Garner: Defying the Fugitive Slave Act,” abolitionist Levi Coffin recounts the story of Garner, a fugitive slave who killed her children to keep them from returning to slavery.
Margaret Atwood (born 1939) is an award winning Canadian poet, novelist, and literary critic. In “Morning in the Burned House,” Atwood paints a dream-like picture through her use of symbolism and metaphor, describing a speaker who imagines her childhood as a burned house.
Loving another person and accepting love from another person can sometimes be a very painful experience. In his article, “Why Do We Hate Love,” Robert Firestone, Ph.D. explains the psychology behind this phenomenon.