Examine the significance of the title, "Someone Knows my Name."

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Hill's title is significant on a couple of levels.  The first is that Aminata spends her life in the shadows of slavery, where identity is negated in the name of a horrific and brutal institution.  The fact that she is able to learn to read and write and thus able to etch out a part of her identity is reflective of the idea that "someone," namely her, "knows her name."  Over the course of the narrative, Aminata uses her skills in reading and writing to note the names of others who have been taken as slaves. In this capacity, she serves as the "someone" who knows the names of other people.  Aminata is driven by the larger sense of identity, linking herself with something larger than herself.  In this pursuit, she wishes to give a name to that which is beyond herself.  While the ending of the narrative is a melancholy one where home is a challenge, Aminata knows who she is.  She knows her identity.  She knows her name.  

The idea of "Someone Knows My Name" extends to the fact that all human beings have dignity and have an identity. "Someone" knows the name of everyone else.  Aminata experiences this in her own life and gives it to another.  While finding home might be a challenge, her identity, her name, her being will always be with her.

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