Section 2 Summary

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In Part II, the character Nat Turner reviews some of his history. He remains in jail, awaiting his hanging. He is cold and feverish.

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His first recounted memory is when he was twelve and was living at Turner's Mill. Because his mother is a house servant, Nat also works inside, as opposed to toiling in the fields. His chores include helping his mother in the kitchen and waiting on the family when they are at the table. One particular memory deals with a dinner served to a visiting guest, a traveling farm implement salesman from the North. Though Nat does not recall the salesman's name, he does remember how the man praised the spring season, especially as experienced in Virginia. The salesman states that Virginia has the finest spring in all of the Eastern states. The man knows because he has visited all of them. The northern states barely have a spring, the man says. The weather merely jumps from winter to summer. The southern states are so warm and humid that even in the winter, one barely notices spring.

While the family is eating, Samuel Turner, the owner, proudly shows off Nat's intelligence, asking the boy to spell. Nat is so nervous that he shouts out the letters, but he spells the word correctly. Samuel believes that if one educates the slaves, it makes them feel good about themselves and then their owners benefit from their improved nature. Nat's performance makes him feel warm with excitement, a feeling that lasts hours after the family has retired and the salesman has gone away.

In another recollection, Nat thinks about his grandmother, whom he never knew. He was acquainted with her only through the stories he had heard. When his grandmother was thirteen, she was kidnapped from the Coromantee tribe, probably located somewhere along the Gold Coast of Africa. On the boat trip across the Atlantic, she was impregnated. By the time she reached Virginia, she was due to delivery her baby. Upon being sold, she was so fearful of all the strange people and their language she did not understand that she died shortly after giving birth to Nat's mother.

Because she was motherless, Nat's mother was taken in by Alpheus Turner (Samuel Turner's father) and raised by the black servants of the house. As she grew up, she was taught the tasks that were required in the household, which included cooking, a skill at which she was very adept.

Nat was born at the Turner's place (and thus was given his owner's last name). As a child, he liked to ask his mother about his father, whom he does not remember. His father's name was Nathaniel, and according to his mother, his father was very good looking and very intelligent. Nathaniel also worked inside the house, as a butler. He was a proud man, which in the end caused him trouble. When Mr. Alpheus Turner died, his oldest son Benjamin inherited the plantation. Benjamin was not as forgiving as his father had been. One night, when Benjamin spoke rudely to Nat's father, Nathaniel talked back to Benjamin. This did not sit well with the owner, who rose from the table and slapped Nathaniel hard in the face. That night Nathaniel ran away, telling Nat's mother that he was going to Philadelphia to earn big money and then return for her and his son. However, he never came back.

In thinking back over his experiences, Nat remembers his mother telling him that there was a big difference between the blacks who worked in the master's house and those who worked in the field. Because of this, she was angry that she had to use the same outhouses as the field slaves. There was a long row of outhouses, five for men and five for women, and the trip there was humiliating for Nat's mother. Nat says one way he compensated for having to use the outhouses was that he trained his body to wait, so he would not have to fight the rush in the early morning when the outhouses had lines of people waiting to use them....

(The entire section contains 2217 words.)

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