Monday, December 10, 2007

Critical Analysis of Julius Lester's Novels : To Be A Slave and Day of Tears

I have always been interested in slavery and finding out what really happened during this time. When I came across Julius Lester's novels, To Be A Slave and Day of Tears, I began reading them instantly. The way Julius writes shows the reader what really happened during these tragic times. The way Julius Lester writes is creative, real and detailed. Both of the novels had many similarities and differences. I had a few dislikes about one of the books, but mostly likes. I invite you to read my critical analysis of the two novels.

Both novels had several similarities. They were both set in the same era of slavery, both books dealt with the issue of slaves and what it was like for them and they both were based on factual events. To Be A Slave was based on the actual writings of slaves describing there experiences of being brought to America, as well as what it was like for them being enslaved. Day of Tears was a novel based on the largest slave auction that ever took place in Savannah, Georgia in 1859. Both novels were also written in exotic ways. Day of Tears was written as a novel in dialogue, while To Be A Slave was written as just excerpts from real peoples lives, there is no set story.Even though the two novels were written so differently, they both contained such descriptive writing and use of language. Both were written in the way a person of that era would talk. Both novels had such strong details in them and really gave you a clear picture of what was happening in the book.

Although the novels being discussed had many similarities, they were also very different. Even though both of the novels were written in an out of the ordinary manner, each one was written different, one as a dialogue, the other as excerpts from real life. Day of Tears was an actual story with characters and a plot, while To Be A Slave was a documentation of several peoples lives. There were no individual characters in this book. Another major difference was the use of illustrations. In Day of Tears, the book was strictly a novel , To Be A Slave, however, there were illustrations to accent the book. Julius Lester's book, To Be A Slave received the Newberry Honor Award, while Day of Tears did not. I personally feel it should be the opposite. I would have to say that the books were more similar than different.

I personally enjoyed Day of Tears much more than To Be A Slave. I found the excerpts of peoples lives interesting in To Be A Slave, but it got repetitive after a while and I lost interest in the book. This was a major dislike for me. Some might say this is odd due to the nature of information in the book but I think for me, it was just too much. Another way to put it, it got boring. As for Day of Tears, I could not put this book down. I finished it in two hours. The story was so well written I felt as if I knew each and every character personally. Julius described each character and scene so well I felt a real connection with the story. When I first began reading, I thought I was going to be very confused due to the book being written in dialogue, but I followed along perfectly and had no problems understanding what I was reading. I can honestly say there is nothing I did not like about this book. It was so intelligently written, and really keeps you on enthralled the whole story. I highly recommend both books if you are interested in slavery and the history of it. I also recommend them if you are not, due to the fact I think they will spark an interest for you.

Both books give you great detail and a sense of what happened during this sad time in our nations history. However, if you are looking for more of a "story" read, choose Day of Tears, if you are interested in just plain facts and actual examples, your best bet is to go with To Be A Slave.

After reading these two books , putting together a biography on Julius Lester, making lessons plans and constructing a poster exhibit for students on the books , I feel very knowledgeable on the subject of slavery and Julius Lester. I learned that there is more than one way to write a novel about the same subject and still have it come across strong and detailed. This was shown through the novel in dialogue and the other with examples that real people had. I learned that I enjoyed reading on the subject of slavery and putting together projects for my future students. I think Julius Lester is a very strong author and a man of many trades. I feel what he writes serves a purpose and informs people. I encourage everyone to read at least one of his books, if not more, to get a better understanding of what it was like for slaves and African Americans during the time of slavery.


lee woo said...

Tears come from the heart and not from the brain. See the link below for more info.


sarah lee said...

I really enjoyed reading your article. I found this as an informative and interesting post, so i think it is very useful and knowledgeable. I would like to thank you for the effort you have made in writing this article.