In "The Slave Dancer," by Paula Fox, Jessie has been kidnapped and is on a slave ship. He is forced to play is fife while the slaves are forced to "dance" on the trip from Africa. This is supposed to keep them stronger and get them out of the slave hold. Jessie becomes sick from the constant abuse of these slaves, he doesn't want to play the music. Jessie eventually cracks under the stress of the living conditions on the ship. Purvis, although harsh and common, tries somewhat to befriend Jessie. At one point he tries to distract Jessie by playing "cat's cradle" with a piece of string. This takes Jessie's mind back to a time when he taught his sister this same trick. Jessie learns he can escape the harshness of the ship for brief periods of time by escaping in his mind.