The Slave Dancer

by Paula Fox
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Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 384

Create a map and draw the route that Jessie took from his kidnapping in New Orleans to Africa and then to the shipwreck in the Gulf of Mexico and his walk home to New Orleans. Also, calculate how many miles Jessie traveled.

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Jessie and Ras feel very close to each other even though they don't speak the same language. Many years later, Jessie is still looking for Ras and hoping that someday he will see him. Why do you think this is the case? How did the boys communicate with each other on the ship, during the shipwreck, and at Daniel's house?

In the book, the slaves on board The Moonlight do not rebel against their captors. However, on a real ship named the Amistad in 1839, the slaves did rebel under the leadership of a slave named Cinque and took control of the ship for some time until it landed in Long Island. Research the Amistad uprising and compare and contrast it to events in The Slave Dancer. What eventually happened to the slaves on the Amistad?

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Latest answer posted October 25, 2011, 8:08 pm (UTC)

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Jessie spends three days and nights walking alone through the woods from Mississippi to New Orleans. If you were hiking alone in the woods for that time, what would you need to survive? Jessie had very little. What is the smallest amount of food and gear that you think you would need to survive? What would you be most afraid of and why?

Ras is sent north with friends of Daniel's, presumably to freedom. Jessie looks for him but never finds him. What do you think happened to Ras? Write a story telling what his life was like, starting from the time he left Daniel's hut in the forests of Mississippi.

In New Orleans in 1840, poor children were expected to work. If you lived in 1840 and had to work at age thirteen, what work could you have done to help your family survive?

In Interracial Books for Children, Binnie Tate wrote that "through the characters' words, [Fox] excuses the captors and places the blame for the slaves' captivity on Africans themselves. The author slowly and systematically excuses all the whites in the story for their participation in the slave venture and by innuendo places the blame elsewhere." Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not?

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