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Black Thunder

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Submitted By klm1132
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An Unsuccessful Revolt?
A revolt does not need to be successful to be influential. A reviewer states, “Probably the most fateful year in the history of American Negro slave revolts is that of 1800, for it was then that Nat Turner and John Brown were born, that Denmark Vesey bought his freedom, and it was then that the great conspiracy named after Gabriel, slave of Tomas H. Prosser of Henrico Country, Virginia, occurred” (Aptheker 219). The book Black Thunder: Gabriel’s Revolt written by Arna Bontemps is a historical novel that takes place in Virginia in 1800. It shows what the slaves at this time were experiencing and it is in their point of view, rather than the view from the slave masters, like many other novels are.
The title, Black Thunder, has a double meaning to it. The very literal meaning of it is a night thunderstorm. The thunderstorm is a climactic turning point in the novel. It is what causes the rivers to flood and the slaves to bail on the revolt. They see the storm as a bad sign and do not want to move onward. The other meaning of the title is the sound of African drums. The titles of the five books, “Jacobins”, “Hand Me Down My Silver Trumpet”, “Mad Dogs”, “A Breathing Of The Common Wind”, and “Pale Evening…A Tall Slim Tree”, in the novel are also very significant. For example, Jacobins, which is the title of book one, were French men who were members of a radical political group who supported an egalitarian democracy. This first book involves many judgments, so I feel it is an appropriate title. The third book refers to what the masters and white people of power saw the slaves as, mad dogs. The last book title has to do with execution and this is the chapter where Gabriel and other slaves get hung.
There are many important characters in this novel, but a few particularly stand out, Gabriel, Bundy, and Old Ben. Bundy and Old Ben could…...

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