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“I knew that it would be called the United States. But I refused to speak that name. there was nothing united about a nation that said all men were created equal, but that kept my people in chains.”
Aminata harbors no love for the country in which she lives, neither Britain nor the United States. When she was made witness to the birth of the new nation, she was disgusted. She didn't want these people to succeed because she knew they didn't deserve it. Their success was made upon the trodden corpses of their slaves.
“That, I decided, was what it meant to be a slave: your past didn't matter, in the present you were invisible and you had no claim on the future.”
In this quotation, Aminata talks about how it feels to be a slave. She was robbed of her childhood, stolen like an object and carried away. When she walks down the street, she can tell that nobody sees her. Her person-hood is irrelevant to the white faces around her. Finally, she has no idea what the future holds for her, and she has next to no means or volition with which to influence that future. In short, she feels that slavery makes a slave into an object.
“I had chosen freedom, with all its insecurities, and nothing in the world would make me turn away from it.”
Aminata is given an opportunity to become free, and she jumps at the chance. Despite the allure of freedom, many of the slaves around her choose to forgo this offer because they're frightened by the prospect. Freedom is such an unknown. Aminata on the other hand has been dreaming of freedom since her capture as a child. She will embrace all that freedom holds, both good and bad, in stride.
“For this child of mine, home would be me. I would be home. I would be everything for this child until we went home together.”
When Aminata has a child, she immediately determines to do anything she can to make that child free. Born into slavery, her two babies have no securities in life. Aminata knows that she could have them taken from her at any moment, and she does. Her motherly instinct, however, makes her an exceptional homemaker and mother considering her circumstances. She raises her children with a sense of internal worth and teaches them that family will always endure in the memory.
“Some say that I was once uncommonly beautiful, but I wouldn’t wish beauty on any woman who has not her own freedom, and who chooses not the hands that claim her.”
To Aminata, physical beauty is more of a curse than a blessing. Her masters desire her for her beauty, and it brings nothing but pain to her. Her first master rapes her as punishment for her many suitors. And it's not the only time. Her good looks make her a liability and call attention to her when anonymity would benefit her far better.
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Aminata wants tomake her way back to Bayo. Temne rejects her request to take her inland so she is forced to to accompany a slave trader enroute to the inner part of Africa, where she can find her village. This was Aminata's only option if she...