'Nightjohn': Movie vs. Book

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Comparing and contrasting the movie and the book Nightjohn The young adult novel Nightjohn depicts the plight of enslaved African-Americans from the point-of-view of an adolescent so that readers can feel as well as learn about the difficulties experienced by slaves in the antebellum south. The book revolves around the prohibition of teaching slaves how to read. In the novel, a former escaped slave named John teaches a young girl named Sarney how to read. John or 'Nightjohn' as he is called, slips into the slave barracks at night when the whites of the plantation are sleeping, and attempts to spread empowering knowledge to his people. John could have remained safe in the north but he chose to return because of his belief in the power of the written word. Although the novel is intended for young people the age of twelve-year-old Sarney, it is unsparing in its depiction of slavery. The novel is written in dialect, and attempts to show the reader what it was really like to endure the pain of being considered a possession. Despite her youth, Sarney has already seen people being beaten before her eyes, attacked by dogs, bound and chained and punished for running away. As a future slave woman, she knows she is likely to be forcibly 'bred' or subjected to serve her white master's pleasures. The actions of Nightjohn result in getting him dismembered in punishment, but Sarney and John both believe that the rewards of reading are too great and continue to try to help other slaves

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