Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Venture Smith

The Narrative of Venture Smith begins with Smith’s recollection of his own capture and removal from Guinea, Africa. At the age of around six Smith is the oldest son of an African king whose tribe has been taken over by slave traders. After witnessing horrible events, such as the brutal slaying of his own father, Smith is eventually sold to a white man by the name of Robertson Mumford. After surviving the trip to America the young smith becomes the trusted slave of Mumford. After 13 years Smith Marries, and troubles between Smith and Mumford’s wives cause Mumford to begin beating Smith and eventually sell him.  Smith is sold a few more times over the course of his life, and in that time endures a lot of abuse. Finally, Smith is able to buy his own freedom as well as the freedom of his family. Despite losing considerable amounts of money Smith is still able to purchase 100 acres of land and three houses for himself and his family.
I found the Narrative of Venture Smith very stimulating to read especially along side the Franklin Autobiography.  Smith and Franklin are basically polar opposites. Smith is a downtrodden black slave who hardly seems to catch a break, while Franklin is a middle class white man who, compared to Smith, leads a privileged life. Both however use hard work and resolve to achieve their goals. Each man sticks to their convictions, and holds morality in high esteem. Smith showed time and time again that he was a trustworthy man, even when it came to the people who bought and sold him like an object.
I do have one minor question about a symbol that appeared a few times in this text (once in the title and once somewhere in the middle) and in the Franklin Autobiography. What does “&c.” mean? I want to say it means etcetera, but I’m not certain on that. It bothers me that I can’t figure it out! J

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Ben Franklin Autobiography

These sections of Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography were interesting to read. In the first four paragraphs of chapter one Franklin begins his work by addressing his son, and explaining why he believes he should put the major events of his own life into writing. In the last four paragraphs of the chapter Franklin tells the story of how he first arrived in Philadelphia. In the beginning of chapter two he describes the events of his first few days in the city. It is also in the beginning of chapter two that Franklin describes his first job in Keimer’s printing house. Finally our last section, chapter six, begins with two letters addressed to Franklin, both pleading with him to continue to work on his autobiography. Each of the men who wrote the letters agree that Franklin’s work would be very beneficial to the youth of America. After these letters Franklin goes on to write about his own ideas on reputation, the church, religion, and virtues.
  As I read these parts of Franklin’s autobiography I found I enjoyed reading the sections in the first few chapters much more than the sixth chapter. Franklin seems much more genuine and humble in the beginning. The first chapters were more entertaining to me, and I think these chapters related more to the portions we read of The Sot-Weed Factor. The first chapters showed what life was like in America during this time. I found it fascinating to try to visualize the events in my head as Franklin rowed the boat to Philadelphia, walked around the city in dirty clothes trying to buy bread, or visited the first print shop he would work in. The sixth chapter went into much further detail about Franklin’s virtues, and beliefs. While still interesting, this chapter was much more dry than the earlier chapters. Rather than explaining what physical life was like in early America, this section seemed to portray the philosophical beliefs of one of our founding fathers.