Middle Passage Themes

Charles Johnson
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Race

Rutherford Calhoun is the only black member of the all-white crew of the Republic, which sets him apart from the beginning. Once the Allmuseri are aboard, however, it serves as an unspoken connection to them. Rutherford finds the slaves more willing to communicate with him than any of the other crewmembers and becomes friendly with a few in particular: Baleka, her mother, and Ngonyama. Rutherford treats Baleka as his own child, caring for her as a father would his daughter. His friendship with Ngonyama is mutually beneficial; Rutherford teaches him to speak English and Ngonyama teaches him to speak Allmuseri and tells him about his people and their history and culture. This alliance saves Rutherford's life when Ngonyama sticks up for his friend after the slave revolt when the other Allmuseri men are in favor of killing him along with the rest of the American crewmembers. At the...

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This section contains 793 words
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Buy the Middle Passage Study Guide
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