What unexpected fact do we discover about Benny in Chapter XXIX, and how does Jacobs relate this to the psychology of children under slavery? (p. 128.)
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During Harriet's goodbye to Benny in Chapter XXIX, it is revealed that her son is also somewhat of a trickster. Harriet learns that Benny figured out that his mother was hiding in the storeroom shortly after Ellen was sent to Brooklyn. He heard a cough and put two and two together. Harriet "asked him if he ever mentioned his suspicions to his sister. He said he never did; but after he heard the cough, if he saw her playing with other children on that side of the house, he always tried to coax her round to the other side, for fear they would hear me cough, too...Such prudence may seem extraordinary in a boy of twelve years, but slaves, being surrounded by mysteries, deceptions, and dangers, early learn to be suspicious and watchful, and prematurely cautious and cunning." Slavery necessitates that the oppressed devise "tricks" in order to preserve their well-being or humanity. Secrets can protect family members or even just give a small shred of power to the powerless.