In The Slave Dancer, how is Jessie different at the end of the story from the beginning?  

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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It is clear from the final chapter of this impressive book that Jessie returns back to his home a much maturer and less naive young man. However, in particular, these final pages indicate that Jessie's experience of being forced to sail on a slaving ship and play for slaves continues to haunt him years after the actual experience. Note what he says about the ease with which he re-entered his life:

I was back in my life, but I was not the same. When I passed a black man, I often turned to look at him, trying to see in his walk the man he had once been before he'd been driven through the dangerous heaving surf to a long boat, toppled into it, chained, brought to a waiting ship all narrowed and stripped for speed, carried through storms, and the bitter brightness of sun-filled days to a place, where if he had survived, he would be sold like cloth.

Even though he tries to distance himself as much as possible from anything to do with slavery, he comes to the rather sobering realisation that almost everything bore in some way "the imprint of black hands." Jessie is a young man that therefore returns from his adventures a much wiser and sadder individual. He has experienced first hand the slavery that was such an integral part of his society, and he has had to face the inhumanity with which white men treat black men. His life has changed forever.

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