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Stephanie
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Historical Novels

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A historical novel should be relevant to contemporary times. How is this or any historical novel relevant to our current life?

Message Edited by Stephanie on 10-28-2007 08:19 PM
Stephanie
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IBIS
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Re: Historical Novels

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SOUL CATCHER is a historical novel that does raise important issues about slavery, not just during the pre-Civil War years, but for today as well. It resonates with urgent relevancy in our present lives. 21st Century slavery is a present day evil, and the numbers are staggering.

Experts estimate that today there are 27 million people enslaved around the world. It’s happening in countries on all six inhabited continents. And yes, that includes the United States. The CIA estimates 14,500 to 17,000 victims are trafficked onto US soil every year, mostly domestic workers, farm laborers, factory workers and prostitutes.

Why hasn’t more been done to end a dehumanizing, universally condemned practice? One challenge is that slavery today takes on myriad, subtler forms than it did during the Atlantic Slave Trade — including sex trafficking, debt bondage, forced domestic or agricultural labor, and chattel slavery — making it tougher to identify and eradicate.

Great Britain abolished the slave trade 200 years ago. Lincoln passed the Emancipation Proclamation more than 140 years ago. Worldwide, slavery was abolished at the 1927 Slavery Convention, yet it continues to thrive today.

How can we justify the existence of this evil in our enlightened day and age? The simple answer is: we can't.

Message Edited by IBIS on 11-04-2007 12:40 AM
IBIS

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MichaelCWhite
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Re: Historical Novels

Good point. As reprehensible as slavery is, it's hard to believe that it still exists. But, indeed, it does. We just had a speaker at Fairfield University talk about this modern evil. I think the first thing to do in confronting such an evil is, like IBIS, confront it and admit it exists.

Michael


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Fozzie
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Re: Historical Novels - SPOILERS END OF BOOK

SPOILERS END OF BOOK

Two of the relationships portrayed in this historical novel are very relevant for current times, the relationship between Cain and Rosetta and the interactions between Cain and John Brown.

Initially, Cain viewed Rosetta as any other slave. He didn’t want to know anything about her or her life. He only wanted to do his job and earn his money. Moreover, Rosetta initially didn’t think of Cain in any manner other than that of a stereotypical slave catcher. However, as they spent time together, and literally saved each others lives, they both came to view the other as a person, an individual, a human. In doing so, they put aside the stereotypes and the feelings society and their peer groups used to view slaves and slave catchers.

Initially, Cain viewed John Brown as a fanatical abolitionist and John Brown viewed Cain as a stereotypical slave catcher. However, when Cain spoke to John as a human, with honest feelings, and with true intentions for helping Rosetta, John was able to look past Cain as a slave catcher and view him as one human trying to help another. Luckily, Cain was wise enough to try to reach John as one human to another, not as slave catcher to abolitionist. Several lives were spared when the two men came to an agreement man to man, not abolitionist to slave catcher.

In both examples I noted here, Cain, Rosetta, and John Brown were able to put aside prejudices, stereotypes, and negative expectations by connecting as human beings first, not as slave catcher, slave, and abolitionist. I hope that if we, all of humanity, could try to look past labels and see each other as individual human beings, and treat each other as such, rather than as part of a large anonymous group, we would then be more likely to treat each other with respect, compassion, and dignity.
Laura

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Re: Historical Novels - SPOILERS END OF BOOK



Fozzie wrote:
SPOILERS END OF BOOK

Two of the relationships portrayed in this historical novel are very relevant for current times, the relationship between Cain and Rosetta and the interactions between Cain and John Brown.

Initially, Cain viewed Rosetta as any other slave. He didn’t want to know anything about her or her life. He only wanted to do his job and earn his money. Moreover, Rosetta initially didn’t think of Cain in any manner other than that of a stereotypical slave catcher. However, as they spent time together, and literally saved each others lives, they both came to view the other as a person, an individual, a human. In doing so, they put aside the stereotypes and the feelings society and their peer groups used to view slaves and slave catchers.

Initially, Cain viewed John Brown as a fanatical abolitionist and John Brown viewed Cain as a stereotypical slave catcher. However, when Cain spoke to John as a human, with honest feelings, and with true intentions for helping Rosetta, John was able to look past Cain as a slave catcher and view him as one human trying to help another. Luckily, Cain was wise enough to try to reach John as one human to another, not as slave catcher to abolitionist. Several lives were spared when the two men came to an agreement man to man, not abolitionist to slave catcher.

In both examples I noted here, Cain, Rosetta, and John Brown were able to put aside prejudices, stereotypes, and negative expectations by connecting as human beings first, not as slave catcher, slave, and abolitionist. I hope that if we, all of humanity, could try to look past labels and see each other as individual human beings, and treat each other as such, rather than as part of a large anonymous group, we would then be more likely to treat each other with respect, compassion, and dignity.


Laura,

I agree about the Cain and John Brown relationship, though it is not something I've thought a lot about recently nor has anyone in my readings or lectures of the book brought this subject up. While everyone has focused, naturally, on the Rosetta-Cain relationship, I think you're right, that the Cain-Brown relationship is also very important. Both do see each other in, as you put it, stereotypical ways, and are willing to kill each other without much thought (as Brown did with pro-slavery advocates out in Kansas). But coming face to face, talking and coming to understand each other a little, perceptions are changed and violence averted.

I'll have to add this topic when discussing the novel.

Michael


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Stephanie
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Re: Historical Novels - SPOILERS END OF BOOK

I think it's human nature, once we get to know a person a bit, to look at them less like an enemy, even if our views are varied and diverse. Might be interesting to see... if required, pre-fight, to sit and have a cup of coffee with your enemy, afterward would you still want to raise your sword?
Stephanie
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MichaelCWhite
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Re: Historical Novels - SPOILERS END OF BOOK

Stephanie,

I think that's true, to know someone makes it harder to kill him, or in with Cain regarding Rosetta, it's harder for him to think of her as a "thing."

Michael


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Wrighty
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Re: Historical Novels - SPOILERS END OF BOOK


MichaelCWhite wrote:
Stephanie,

I think that's true, to know someone makes it harder to kill him, or in with Cain regarding Rosetta, it's harder for him to think of her as a "thing."

Michael



Michael,
Was that Rosetta's intention all along, for Cain to see her as a human and not a "thing"? She obviously had a strong personality and was very bold at a time when other slaves would have been punished for much less but she refused to let Cain ignore her. She pushed and pushed, forcing him to talk, to listen, to get to know her when he was trying so hard to keep her at a distance. She broke through his barriers and it saved her life.
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MichaelCWhite
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Re: Historical Novels - SPOILERS END OF BOOK

Yes, I think you are right. Rosetta, from the very first, pushes to have her "humanness" accepted. She says to all who will listen that she is a person, a woman, and not a "hog." It's jsut that in Cain she sees someone finally who has the capability and the capacity to see her more deeply and she pushes him more than anyone. With the others, she simply tries to escape--like with Eberly.

Michael


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