Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Venture Smith

The narrative written by Venture Smith begins with a preface that describes to the reader how great of a man Venture was. In the preface, Venture is compared to the likes of Ben Franklin and George Washington, even though he is a slave. The preface continues to say that had Venture been given a proper education, he would have been an "honor" to human nature. I like to think that Venture became the great man that he was because he didn't receive a proper education. His many journey's in life helped shape him into the man he became.

Chapter one begins by informing the reader that Venture is the son of the prince of the Dukandarra tribe. Although polygamy is accepted in the tribe, Venture's father goes against normal customs and marries another woman without consulting his first wife before doing so. This causes the first wife, who is Venture's mother, to leave Venture's father and take Venture and his two siblings with her. During their travels, Venture's mother solely takes care of Venture and his siblings, showing Venture how to be strong and independent. The group continues to travel until they reach a large farm house at which Venture is left. Immediately Venture is put to work herding sheep. However, Venture is less of a slave (I was unable to decipher if the farmer was black or white) and more of an "only son" to the owner of the farm.

Eventually, Venture's father sends for Venture and he returns home from his brief stay on the farm, only to find that his mother and father have reunited and worked things out. Trouble soon begins again as Venture's father is told of a local army, instigated and fortified by white men, that is demanding money and livestock as well as wreaking havoc on local tribes. This army reminds me of the Revolutionary United Front in Africa. The RUF is a local militia that started out benign, but soon began to wreak havoc all through Africa. Anyways, Venture's tribe is forced to flee from the army, but is soon captured. Venture watches as his father is tortured to death, and then he, along with the rest of his people, is sold into slavery.

Venture is sold to his slave-owner, Mr. Mumford. Venture's first test of loyalty comes when Mumford bestows upon him a set of keys and tells him to give them to no one unless Mr. Mumford gives him the authority to do so. Mr. Mumford's father asks Venture for the keys repeatedly, but Venture refuses much to his master's delight. Venture continues his life of slavery for thirteen years, performing arduous tasks for his master and marrying another slave named Meg in the meantime, until he is talked into running away by another slave named Heddy. Venture, Heddy, and two other companions successfully flee, heading down the Mississippi river. At a resting point in the journey, Heddy manages to steal all of the clothes the slaves brought with them and runs away. However, Heddy does not get far and is caught. Once Heddy is caught, Venture decides they should return to their masters. Upon their return, Heddy is put into custody while the other three men are received warmly and put back to work. Not long after that, Venture is sold and separated from his wife and daughter. Yet, in the last two lines of the narrative Venture speaks of all of the money he has earned from side-jobs and working. Is this money enough to buy his freedom and possibly even enough to buy his wife and daughters?

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