On Being Brought from Africa to America

by Phillis Wheatley

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What is the literary analysis of "On Being Brought from Africa to America"?

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In Phillis Wheatley's poem, "On Being Brought from Africa to America," the speaker considers her voyage to America a blessing or an act of mercy. This is strange considering she was brought here to be a slave. She considers her former home, Africa, as a "Pagan land." She feels that being in America has given her the opportunity to find God. She Has learned that "there is a God, and a Saviour too." She admits that there was a time in her former country that she did not seek redemption. She did not know it existed. Being in America has taught her about God's redemptive plan and for that she is grateful.

The speaker adds that some may consider her "sable race" with "a scornful eye," but she points out that "Negros" can find God too. She reminds Christians that Cain was the son of Adam and Eve; therefore, he is part of God's family. The speaker is preaching to Christians, informing them that "Negros" are God's children too. She is seeking a little respect even though she is a slave. She has great courage to write such a poem during her days of slavery. She definitely stands up for her race and even speaks with a scolding tone to the Christians who did not believe blacks or slaves could find God:

Remember, Christians, Negros, black as Cain,

May be refin'd and join th' angelic train.

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