Who was Nat Turner?

We all learn about the man Nat Turner in American History, but it wasn’t until I read the blurb on the bookjacket that I even realized who exactly this novel was about. The author comments in the foreword  about how all these great civil rights leaders (Malcolm X, Frederick Douglas, Harriet Tubman) all cite this man and the rebellion he led as a great inspiration, yet in my American history class there might have been a total of three sentences about him.  Telling his story in this format is a good way to get people’s attention.

I like how Nat Turner is formatted, with the story mainly being told in illustrations.  The few words that are present are quotes and excepts from scholarly publications about the slave trade or Nat Turner’s life. The backstory of his youth and devout belief in the bible which contributed to his construct of the Rebellion was very detailed and in parts horrifying. The first image that really sticks with me is the author’s portrayal of Nat Turner’s mother’s journey to America on the slave ship, with the dead woman laying next to her and her trying to throw the newborn to the sharks instead of having it live whatever life it may have to lead in the Americas. The illustrations of the actual rebellion were a lot more violent than I had imagined they were going to be, I suppose that’s fitting though because rebellions aren’t typically peaceful gatherings.

One thought on “Who was Nat Turner?”

  1. I felt the same way reading this novel. I’d never even heard of Nathaniel Turner before this novel was assigned to me in English 201. The format is a lot less intimidating than a traditional wall of text and it’s this prompts teachers to use this in classes where the subject matter may or may not be relevant, thus educating a wider range of people about Nat Turner’s rebellion.
    I agree with your reaction to the violence, but I think that images depicting violence are naturally more accosting than words. A sane individuals’ imagination can only take violence so far. While it may have been a little excessive (the boy’s decapitation was less than savory), I felt that it conveyed its intended message perfectly.

Comments are closed.