Summarize the events that happen in Chapter 5 of The Slave Dancer.

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bohemianteacher4u | College Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

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Because the sections in the Slave Dancer are not directly called chapters, I am thinking that you must mean the chapter titled "Nicholas Spark Walks on Water."

In the chapter, Purvis is telling a tale that sounds a bit invented. He describes how everyone on a ship went blind, including the slaves, and crew. The captain went blind as well and in trying to flee from the ship broke his arm leaving the boat to rock and roll freely over the ocean.  Although the story does not demonstrate any truth, the horror of the story provides some sense of what could occur on the seas.

Jessie had spent the previous night upset about a slave child that had died. When Ned makes a statement about the lack of a cure for man, Jessie relates the idea to the the men on board who do not see the slaves as humans and do not care about what the slaves have to endure.

Jessie learns that most of the slaves on the ship are from the Ashantis tribe. He is told that the chiefs of the tribe commit kidnapping because they have become greedy and wanted the offerings of the slave traders. Ned shares that he is not into being a slaver.

The slaves are brought up to the deck. They are very weak, and the men are still in shackles. After the slaves receive their rations, Jessie is instructed to play his fife, and the slaves are forced to dance to the music. Jessie is curious about the differences between the male and female bodies because he can see them well since the slaves are almost naked. He is made to play for three different slave groups. The forced dancing is how the slaves were exercised.

Some of the slaves had become sick, and others were arguing and fighting with other slaves over the nasty buckets where they had to use the bathroom. Many had bowel issues causing the buckets to remain full. Jessie, who has been kidnapped and forced on the vessel, feels painful emotions because of the misery of the slaves. He witnesses the Captain having a woman thrown overboard. He is told that she was tossed because she was ill and could make other slaves ill.

Jessie does not understand why his emotions toward the slaves turn to hate. Everything about them seemed to related to human feces and excrement. He has to flee the scene to take refuge from everything. Because he had left the scene and not done his job he is flogged five times at the Captain's orders. Ned treats Jessie's wounds. Stout makes excuses to Jessie by stating that he had whipped him gently. Jessie's eyes are opened to the reality of what the men who run the slaves are alike. Only Ned is different from the others.

Jessie's emotions are like a roller coaster. He identifies that none of the men see the slaves as equal to them. He knows now the kind of cruel man that Stout is to the slaves, and that he mentally and physically tortures some of the slave women while the Captain lets it happen.

As the ship moves toward Cape Verde:

  • Gardere dies Six of the slave men die
  • Ned begins to lose weight
  • Nicholas Spark tortures a slave woman
  • A slave attempts to protect the woman
  • The slave is beaten and tied to the stern
  • Sparks shoots the slave in the back with a gun
  • All that the others care about is that the dead slave meant less profit
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