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Wrighty
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Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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First Impressions

I don't think this was brought up yet but I wondered what reader's first impressions were as they started this story. It was a shock to me to read about the violence, the harsh living and the disregard for another human life just because they are a different color. I was drawn into the story immediately but at the same time I didn't want to hear anymore. It was too awful and it really happened. I have learned some of the history in the past but this book puts the details right in your face. It's not sugar coated and it shouldn't be. Did anyone else have strong reactions to this?
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IBIS
Posts: 1,735
Registered: ‎11-22-2006
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Re: First Impressions

Wrighty, I agree with you.

This is a tough story about a very vicious time in our nation's history. It has an anti-hero who is a drunkard, a gambler, and an laudanum addict. He earns his living hunting down fugitive slaves. I kept wondering, "How can he justify doing that for a living? How can he live with himself?"

The story starts with horrific battle scenes. There are aggressively evil people who are cruel for cruelty's sake.. who torture young boys and cut off their ears. I wasn't sure I could bear the misery of such lives.

What keeps me reading is the excellent and richness of the writing... the author's amazing mastery of metaphors and similes. Exploring the many layers of the inner lives of fascinatingly flawed characters. And hoping that at the end, there will be redemption of some sort for Cain. And freedom for Rosetta and her unborn child.
IBIS

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MichaelCWhite
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Registered: ‎10-08-2007
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Re: First Impressions

Believe me, it was certainly hard to research such vile human behavior and then to write about it. A very humbling experience to see mankind in such terms. But once I made the decision to write about slavery, it couldn't be sugar-coated. I aimed to write about it, clearly, honestly, without exaggeration. In my own modest way, the way other writers of slavery--i.e., Toni Morrison, Stowe--wrote about it. I, too, find it difficult to read about certain terrible subjects such as the holocaust. But there can be, as IBIS mentions, the reward of characters finding their own redemption through change and insight.

Michael

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Fozzie
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Re: First Impressions

[ Edited ]
What drew me into the book were questions, questions I immediately had about the characters.

What was Cain's history?
Would he be successful in finding Rosetta?
What would happen along the way?
Why did Eberly want Rosetta back?
How does the story of Cain, Eberly, and Rosetta fit into the history of slavery in the United States?

Also, there was a sense that this would be an account that was not glossed over or made more palatable. We, the readers, would witness some of the horrors of slavery.

P.S. Michael, I see we posted at almost the same time. Based on my comment, you were successful in not sugar coating anything.

Message Edited by Fozzie on 11-02-2007 09:08 AM
Laura

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MichaelCWhite
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Re: First Impressions

Laura,

Thanks for the "not sugar coating anything" comment.

Michael


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Stephanie
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Re: First Impressions

Laura,

I wondered all those same things- and came up with a prediction about why Eberly wanted Rosetta back- my first thought was that loved her, some way (hence the high price) and after he described her, I then thought he was her father.
Stephanie
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Fozzie
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Re: First Impressions



Stephanie wrote:
I wondered all those same things- and came up with a prediction about why Eberly wanted Rosetta back- my first thought was that loved her, some way (hence the high price) and after he described her, I then thought he was her father.



I, too, thought that Eberly loved Rosetta. Then my thinking stopped. Wow! Very interesting idea about him being her father! That certainly hadn't occurred to me! Since I still have lots of pages yet to read, that thought is going to be in my mind now too.
Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
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kiakar
Posts: 3,435
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: First Impressions



Wrighty wrote:
I don't think this was brought up yet but I wondered what reader's first impressions were as they started this story. It was a shock to me to read about the violence, the harsh living and the disregard for another human life just because they are a different color. I was drawn into the story immediately but at the same time I didn't want to hear anymore. It was too awful and it really happened. I have learned some of the history in the past but this book puts the details right in your face. It's not sugar coated and it shouldn't be. Did anyone else have strong reactions to this?




It does make me cringe every time I read about this happening. Maybe I feel somewhat quilty because I am a southerner and all through the 20th century my ancestors lived in the south. I do not know their belief or their practice aginst or for this. But it has always seemed horrible to me to enslave. Even as a child I couldn't understand it. I lived in the Washington D. C. area a few years while I was young, that made me aware of the way Va. reacted to slavery, was so wrong. I am so glad things have changed for the good now but of course nothing is never perfect. It will take years and years fo rthat to happen.
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MichaelCWhite
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Registered: ‎10-08-2007
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Re: First Impressions

You are not alone in your feelings regarding slavery. I recently read and spoke to a group that was made up of primarily African-Americans. Several there spoke of growing up where their parents or grandparents went to sleep with guns to protect them against the KKK. One woman expressed dismay that our young--both white and black--were unaware of our common history. I agreed. I think that we need to see that history as ours, both the good and bad of it. However, I think we need to view it not as either a victim or an victimizer, but as Americans. We need to accept such horrible things that happened, not turn our backs on them and deny them, if we are ever to move beyond blame or guilt, and if we are to make certain that such things don't happen again. I believe that racism is not something we've defeated and no can go on our merry way. I think that it is still there, if in differing forms and directed toward different groups, and in order for us to be on our guard against committing such things again, we need to read books such as Soul Catcher--or Beloved, or the Narrative of Frederick Douglass, etc., etc--to have open and honest discussions about it, without pointing blame or accepting guilt.

Michael


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Wrighty
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Re: First Impressions


MichaelCWhite wrote:
You are not alone in your feelings regarding slavery. I recently read and spoke to a group that was made up of primarily African-Americans. Several there spoke of growing up where their parents or grandparents went to sleep with guns to protect them against the KKK. One woman expressed dismay that our young--both white and black--were unaware of our common history. I agreed. I think that we need to see that history as ours, both the good and bad of it. However, I think we need to view it not as either a victim or an victimizer, but as Americans. We need to accept such horrible things that happened, not turn our backs on them and deny them, if we are ever to move beyond blame or guilt, and if we are to make certain that such things don't happen again. I believe that racism is not something we've defeated and no can go on our merry way. I think that it is still there, if in differing forms and directed toward different groups, and in order for us to be on our guard against committing such things again, we need to read books such as Soul Catcher--or Beloved, or the Narrative of Frederick Douglass, etc., etc--to have open and honest discussions about it, without pointing blame or accepting guilt.

Michael



I agree so much. These books are so important in educating the readers. I'm from NY state and even though we studied this time period in school, the details of such atrocities fade with time. It's also hard to place emphasis on such things as the brutality of slavery or the holocaust when there is so much information to cram into children's heads for state testing. Teachers just don't have the time really necessary to spend on these important events. I think it's often hard for children, and even adults to really comprehend how awful something is if they haven't experienced it or been taught enough about it. I know its often that way for me. Now as an adult I can read books like Soul Catcher and learn details that I haven't always been exposed to. It's awful, it's uncomfortable but it's so important to share and a small price to pay compared to what those before us have gone through. This book has done more for me than any textbook ever did.
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kiakar
Posts: 3,435
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: First Impressions



Wrighty wrote:

MichaelCWhite wrote:
You are not alone in your feelings regarding slavery. I recently read and spoke to a group that was made up of primarily African-Americans. Several there spoke of growing up where their parents or grandparents went to sleep with guns to protect them against the KKK. One woman expressed dismay that our young--both white and black--were unaware of our common history. I agreed. I think that we need to see that history as ours, both the good and bad of it. However, I think we need to view it not as either a victim or an victimizer, but as Americans. We need to accept such horrible things that happened, not turn our backs on them and deny them, if we are ever to move beyond blame or guilt, and if we are to make certain that such things don't happen again. I believe that racism is not something we've defeated and no can go on our merry way. I think that it is still there, if in differing forms and directed toward different groups, and in order for us to be on our guard against committing such things again, we need to read books such as Soul Catcher--or Beloved, or the Narrative of Frederick Douglass, etc., etc--to have open and honest discussions about it, without pointing blame or accepting guilt.

Michael



I agree so much. These books are so important in educating the readers. I'm from NY state and even though we studied this time period in school, the details of such atrocities fade with time. It's also hard to place emphasis on such things as the brutality of slavery or the holocaust when there is so much information to cram into children's heads for state testing. Teachers just don't have the time really necessary to spend on these important events. I think it's often hard for children, and even adults to really comprehend how awful something is if they haven't experienced it or been taught enough about it. I know its often that way for me. Now as an adult I can read books like Soul Catcher and learn details that I haven't always been exposed to. It's awful, it's uncomfortable but it's so important to share and a small price to pay compared to what those before us have gone through. This book has done more for me than any textbook ever did.




Wrighty, you are so right! Cramming reading, writing and arithmetic for those tests all kids have to binge on does not leave very much room for studying their history thoroughly.
I have seen some of their history books in grade school and it doesn't touch what we had in history classes years ago. I think more emphsis should be placed on our history, the why and hows of it, to teach the citizens of tomarrow there have to be better ways to handle wars.
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