Better to stay alive," I said. "At least while there's a chance to get free." I thought of the sleeping pills in my bag and wondered just how great a hypocrite I was. It was so easy to advise other people to live with their pain.
That educated didn’t mean smart. He had a point. Nothing in my education or knowledge of the future had helped me to escape. Yet in a few years an illiterate runaway named Harriet Tubman would make nineteen trips into this country and lead three hundred fugitives to freedom.
...I realized that I knew less about loneliness than I had thought - and much less than I would know when he went away.
As a kind of castaway myself, I was happy to escape into the fictional world of someone else's trouble.
I'd rather see the others." "What others?" "The ones who make it. The ones living in freedom now." "If any do." "They do." "Some say they do. It's like dying, though, and going to heaven. Nobody ever comes back to tell you about it.
Sometimes I wrote things because I couldn't say them, couldn't sort out my feelings about them, couldn't keep them bottled inside me.
Then, somehow, I got caught up in one of Kevin's World War II books - a book of excerpts from the recollections of concentration camp survivors. Stories of beatings, starvation, filth, disease, torture, every possible degradation. As though the Germans had been trying to do in only a few years what the Americans had worked at for nearly two hundred. ... Like the Nazis, antebellum whites had known quite a bit about torture - quite a bit more than I ever wanted to learn.
I closed my eyes and saw the children playing their game again. 'The ease seemed so frightening.' I said. 'Now I see why.' 'What?' 'The ease. Us, the children ... I never realized how easily people could be trained to accept slavery.
I couldn’t really let her come all the way back. I couldn’t let her return to what she was, I couldn’t let her come back whole and that, I think, really symbolizes her not coming back whole. Antebellum slavery didn’t leave people quite whole.
Strangely, they seemed to like him, hold him in contempt, and fear him all at the same time. This confused me because I felt just about the same mixture of emotions for him myself. I had thought my feelings were complicated because he and I had such a strange relationship. But then, slavery of any kind fostered strange relationships. Only the overseer drew simple, unconflicting emotions of hatred and fear when he appeared briefly. But then, it was part of the overseer’s job to be hated and feared while the master kept his hands clean.