My rating: 4 stars
Slavery, racism and the allure of scientific discoveries permeate the entirety of Washington Black by Esi Edugyan. Although it comprises an adventure, this novel reads more like a fictional memoir focusing on specific periods from the life of George Washington Black, who was born a slave in Barbados. Set in the 19th century, it also touches on the complexity of human behaviour, while raising questions on people who, despite being against slavery, ended up using slaves for their own purposes anyway.
Washington Black, also known as Wash, was named by his first master at Faith Plantation. He had no one to take care of him during his childhood except for Big Kit, whom had been a witch before being taken as a slave. When Wash was around 11 years old, his first master died. The plantation’s next owner, Erasmus Wilde, soon proved himself to be capable of great brutality.
Big Kit and various other slaves at the plantation believed that they would return to their homelands after they died. So, some started committing suicide. To put an end to it, Erasmus Wilde ordered the head of one of the slaves that had killed himself to be cut from his body and warned the other ones that he would do the same to all the new suicides. Without a head, a person couldn’t be reborn. Continue reading