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One way for you to approach this excellent novel would be to consider the role of food and how it is presented and explored thematically in the story. One cannot help but notice the prominence of food in the pages of this text, and the references that are made to the women who prepare it for different purposes and for different events. Consider for example the way in which Salina Dutton always prepares a full breakfast. There is too the Grimes' letter that details explicitly the amount of food that is eaten in Chapter 5. Likewise, we see the lavish menus that are detailed for the formal dinner party in Chapter 6 and various gossip about slaves poisoning the food of their owners. These are just some of the different places and ways in which food is mentioned in this text, and it would help you to go through the story systematically and prepare a more thorough list.
The important thing to focus on, however, is the different ways in which food is used. Food is shown to have a variety of different meanings attached to it, than can often be at odds with each other. It is a way that whites use to control slaves. It is at the same time an object to be kept safe and hidden away. It is a symbol of hospitality and welcome. It can also be treated as a product to be exchanged for money. Lastly, it is a way for some people to make a livelihood through its production.
An excellent idea for you to explore therefore would be the role of food in this text and the different meanings that are attached to it.
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