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Paula Fox’s 1973 young adult fiction bookThe Slave Dancer, winner of the prestigious Newbery Award for its distinguished contribution to literature for children, features eleven unnumbered chapters, including an introduction and a history. Because these two sections are not proper chapters, I will assume that the sixth...

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Paula Fox’s 1973 young adult fiction book The Slave Dancer, winner of the prestigious Newbery Award for its distinguished contribution to literature for children, features eleven unnumbered chapters, including an introduction and a history. Because these two sections are not proper chapters, I will assume that the sixth chapter in question is “The Spaniard.”

By this point in the novel, protagonist Jessie Bollier has been kidnapped from his New Orleans home, where he had lived in poverty with his mother. He finds himself aboard the slave ship The Moonlight, where he is instructed to play the fife to keep the slaves dancing and therefore physically fit. By the sixth chapter, Jessie has become acquainted with the slave trade and thoroughly disgusted by the treatment of both blacks and his fellow sailors. While the boat travels from America and back, Jessie sees slaves die and is told by a fellow sailor that immigrants were treated in the same way. One white sailor, Nicholas Spark, who killed an attacking slave, was himself thrown overboard for forsaking the profit that the slave represents.

Chapter 6, “The Spaniard,” begins when Stout, a particularly rough sailor, tries to make friends with Jessie. When his advances are rejected, he steals Jessie’s fife and throws it in the slave quarters, where Jessie must trample over slave bodies to find it. There is a slave boy on the ship who has bonded with Jessie using non-verbal cues. This boy locates the fife for Jessie. The chapter takes its name from the Spaniard whom the captain of The Moonlight meets on the coast of Cuba. At the chapter’s close, the captain arranges for the slaves from his ship to be sold the following day.
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