Young and ambitious, Caleb takes the adventure of a lifetime, traveling from the small farm town of Penn Yan to the bustling city of Baltimore. Before he has time to bring home a profit from the sale of his brother’s cabbages, two men with insincere intentions fool Caleb into becoming a shipman on an illegal slave ship. Almost instantaneously, the ignorant small town boy is swept into a life of corruption, brutality, and murder. Arriving in Africa, the reader is immersed in the culture of the slave trade. During the return trip to the United States, Abeni, a slave girl, grows close with Caleb—only to be separated by the evil hand of American slavery. Will Caleb return to the south and save Abeni from a life of abuse and servitude?
Copson’s writing brings the reader to each locale: one is able to hear the busy streets of Baltimore, feel the sweltering heat of Africa and swat the southern mosquitoes away with an open hand. Caleb and Abeni’s story creates a new perspective concerning the institution of slavery. By experiencing slavery in Africa and the United States, Abeni knows evil owns many faces. Through witnessing the process in which an African slave becomes an American slave, Caleb gains knowledge few northerners could claim to possess. The combination of the two provides the reader with a new outlook on the civil war, American slavery and the slave trade as a whole.
Copson artfully juxtaposes Caleb’s view on civil war to the views of other northerners at the time, allowing the reader to begin to understand the complexity of slavery. In doing so, the setting becomes one of the most powerful characters in the story, providing the impetus for life altering decisions and immense character growth. Part war story and part love story, Benediction does not disappoint on either end.
|Page Count||389 pages|
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