What are the five main points of Hannah Crafts' novel The Bondwoman's Narrative?

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Noelle Thompson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When we discuss literature and speak about “main points,” we are speaking about themes.  There are quite a few themes in this novel.  The main points of the story are found in the themes of slavery, escape, freedom, mental illness, and loyalty.

Each of these main points is an important part of the discussion of theme.  Quite simply, Hannah is a slave.  Hannah’s unhappiness in her lot in life is apparent as she deals with her mistress who sinks deeper and deeper into insanity.  In regards to the theme of escape, it is interesting that both Hannah and her mistress both desire to escape to the North.  As someone in the bonds of slavery, the pull is even greater for Hannah.  In regards to freedom, Hannah is very interested in the freedom to read (which she is unable to do as a slave); however, when life becomes unbearable, Hannah desires freedom from her actual slave bonds as well.  Even though it is more of a minor theme, mental illness can be discussed through the character of Hannah’s mistress.  Hannah’s mistress is incredibly weak both emotionally and physically.  In fact, she is too weak to make it all the way North.  All of these things lead to the mistress character entering deeper and deeper into insanity.  Finally, we need to discuss the main theme of loyalty here.  As a slave, Hannah is amazingly loyal to her white masters.  Hannah is rarely critical of the worst of them (such as the horrible Mrs. Wheeler) and obeys their every command.  Further, she offers to be a slave (again) to Mrs. Henry, who helps her regain her strength.   

Thus, the main character of Hannah is incredibly important when speaking about the author’s main points.  Through Hannah, the reader learns much about both slavery and freedom.  In short, we could combine all of the main points into one statement:  slavery and mental illness are to be avoided while escape, freedom and loyalty are to be coveted.

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The Bondwoman's Narrative

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