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The confession of Nat Turner

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Par   •  13 Mai 2019  •  Étude de cas  •  965 Mots (4 Pages)  •  77 Vues

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The confession of Nat Turner

  • Which impression of the person Nat Turner does Thomas Gray convey to his readers? 

Thomas Gray in his writing confession of Nat Turner presents him as a “complete fanatic”. At the end of the confession, the author gives us his point of view and impression about this person. He describes as being a very smart person: “uncommon share of intelligence”. Thomas Gray gives us also a physical description of the prisoner, but he also points ahead of the fact that when he acts, he was “perverted” by his vision and his fanatism. Probably, Thomas Gray puts ahead this to understand the violence that has been committed by Nat Turner. Thomas Gray shares also his feelings about the interview he had with Nat Turner “I looked on him and my blood curdled in my veins”.

  • How does Nat Turner justify the insurrection to Gray? 

In his confession, Nat Turner explains to Thomas Gray that his insurrection is the fate of God. He starts the interview by explaining his life and put ahead of his piety and closeness to God. For example, he explains that during his childhood, he learned how to read, and was gift of “an uncommon intelligence”. He justified this by explaining that “and my father and mother strengthened me in this my first impression, saying in my presence, I was intended for some great purpose”. He continues the narration of his life by arguing in piety and refereeing all the time to the fact that he was some special, and “ordained for some great purpose in the hands of the Almighty”. Then, still according to the text and Nat Turner’s narration, he explains to Thomas Gray, that one day he had a vision and “saw white spirits and black spirits engaged in battle”. All the argument that gives Nat Turner to Mr. Gray to justify his insurrection is related to the divine and his vision and the sign that he has seen “the appearance of the sign”. Nat Turner describes himself as a savior for the slave, as a kind of prophet which has been choosing to realize great things. Which is very interesting with this narration is that we can possibly refer to Nat Turner’ narration to Moses from the Bible. If we pay attention to some of his narration, we can find similarities with Moses’ story. Like Moses, Nat Turner explains that he been chosen by God and defend this by his vision and quality that he has “uncommon intelligence”, he has been able to read without learning it, during his life he spreads God’s words to slaves and withes people. Like Moses, he runs away for a while and then came back to his people. And then when he came back, Nat Turner, to the plantation it was with the will to liberate the black from slavery like Moses did was he came back to Egypt to liberate the Jew. There is also the fact, that Nat Turner waits for a sign from God before starting his rebellion, Moses and the Jews in the Bible had waited for a sign from God before fleeing from Egypt, this episode is called the “Plague of Egypt”. And then to finish, there is another similarity in Nat Turner narration, with the bible. This last similarity is that, as Moses did, Nat Turner went to war and used great violence. In the Bible, Moses went on a war against the Midianites, this episode from the Bible has one of the most violent because the Jews killed, according to the Bible, killed everybody except the virgin. All these elements can make us think that Turner really believed in his predestined fight to liberate his people. According to an article that I read, Professor Rothman, however, questions this mysticism by pointing out that it is difficult to decide whether Turner has persuaded himself or whether this messianism was not largely caused by his entourage.


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