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Exploration of Bondage in Middle Passage Essay

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Bondage can be defined as a state of subjection to a force, power, or influence or the state of being under the control of another person. Throughout the novel Middle Passage, written by Charles Johnson, bondage is a reoccurring theme. The characters in the novel are bonded physically, emotionally, or psychologically. Some characters are bonded and can not escape their bondage. Others choose to place themselves in the situations. Throughout the course of the novel, some of the characters gain their freedom and move forward with their lives. Other characters are never able to gain their freedom because their lives end in death.
Within the first page of the book we are introduced to Rutherford Calhoun, an
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Rutherford faces the enslavement of marriage before and after getting onboard the Republic. He is on the ship because he doesn’t want to marry Isadora. By marrying Isadora, he could have freed himself from the bondage of debt. However, once he boards the ship and becomes a crew member, he is faced with the enslavement of marriage once more. Falcon considers Rutherford his spy and gives him a special gun. This gun requires him to wear a ring to prevent anyone else from using it. They both have the same rings on their left hand, and Rutherford states that “we were married, and the very thing [he] had fled from in New Orleans had overtaken [him]”(103).
Rutherford doesn’t become a free man until he comes to grips with his past and deals with the abandonment of his father. When his father takes on the role of the Allmuseri god, Rutherford is forced to look into and through his father’s eyes. Through the Allmuseri god, Rutherford learns that his father didn’t abandon him but was killed just miles from the plantation on the day he tried to escape. This allows Rutherford to make peace with one of the voices inside his head and realize that no matter how hard he tries to shun his father, his father will always be a part of him. Rutherford is then able to free himself of his past and move into the future. As the novel comes to a close, Rutherford has become an exemplary
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