Exploration of Bondage in Middle Passage

1197 words 5 pages
Bondage can be defined as a state of subjection to a force, power, or influence or the state of being under the control of another person. Throughout the novel Middle Passage, written by Charles Johnson, bondage is a reoccurring theme. The characters in the novel are bonded physically, emotionally, or psychologically. Some characters are bonded and can not escape their bondage. Others choose to place themselves in the situations. Throughout the course of the novel, some of the characters gain their freedom and move forward with their lives. Other characters are never able to gain their freedom because their lives end in death. Within the first page of the book we are introduced to Rutherford Calhoun, an ex-slave. He has been recently …show more content…
Rutherford is then able to free himself of his past and move into the future. As the novel comes to a close, Rutherford has become an exemplary character. He gains a new sense of freedom and is ready to face the enslavement of marriage and the role of a father. As the voyage upon the Republic progresses, Rutherford learns that every man of the crew is bonded. He expresses that they were "all refugees from responsibility and, like social misfits ever pushing westward to escape citified life, took to the sea as the last frontier that welcome miscreants, dreamers, and fools" (40). All of the crew members were running from failures and humiliations back home but "felt pressured [...] to prove himself equal"aboard the Republic (41). The crew members were also bonded to alcohol. As Rutherford suggests, "The whole Middle Passage, you might say, was one long hangover. It had the character of a fou-month binge" (36). The crew was also bonded to gambling. Rutherford witnessed "they gambled on who could piss the farthest over the rail"(41). In addition, Rutherford realizes that the crew members are slaves to the financiers because the financiers are making a fortune as a result of the slave trade. The ship's captain Ebenezer Falcon, also faces bondage. As scholar Barbara Z. Thaden remarks, "Falcon is slave to the investors, who, in turn are slaves to fortune and other fortune-hunters" (255). Falcon is not only bonded to the investors but also to his ego. Rutherford

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