Precipitating the narrator’s decision to escape is usually some sort of personal crisis, such as the sale or death of a loved one (Box Brown), insults and cruelties too great to bear (Pennington), a dark night of the soul (Henson), or simply a rare opportunity too inviting to forego (Jacobs). Many readers were fascinated by the harrowing accounts of flight featured in some of the most popular slave narratives, such as Narrative of Henry Box Brown, Who Escaped from Slavery, Enclosed in a Box 3 Feet Long and 2 Wide (1849) and Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom, or, the Escape of William and Ellen Craft from Slavery (1860). Douglass, on the other hand, refused to disclose the means by which he made his escape, thereby directly contradicting the expectations of the form he himself had adopted. Why would Douglass make such a decision, knowing his readership wanted to read these kinds of escape accounts (in his post-Civil War Life and Times of Frederick Douglass , he explained how he made his way to freedom)?
Up at a promontory above the river we found Olu Igbo the lord of the forest. Placing his stick in his back pocket, the little man fell silent and bowed. It was indeed an awesome sight a giant stone effigy standing among great trees, with huge eyes and long arms spread out like wings. Hoots and warbles percolated in from the foliage; rain began to fall but its drops, intercepted by the manifold layers of leaves above, hardly touched us.
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Cristina Rivera Garza Reading
Green Apple Books, SF
Human beings often claim to understand events when they manage to formulate a coherent story or narrative explaining how they believe the event was generated. Narratives thus lie at foundations of our cognitive procedures and also provide an explanatory framework for the social sciences, particularly when it is difficult to assemble enough cases to permit statistical analysis. Narrative is often used in case study research in the social sciences. Here it has been found that the dense, contextual, and interpenetrating nature of social forces uncovered by detailed narratives is often more interesting and useful for both social theory and social policy than other forms of social inquiry.
Brainstorm worksheet for a personal story based on an experience or accident for a narrative essay (PDF)