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The Slave Dancer, Paula Fox

The Slave Dancer follows thirteen-year-old Jessie who is kidnapped while running an errand for his mother. To his horror, Jessie discovers that he has been taken aboard a slave ship and has been abducted for his ability to play the fife. Even more repulsive, Jessie is to play the fife for Africans who have been forcibly taken from their homelands and who are chained on board the ship. While Jessie plays, these prisoners are forced to "dance" to retain their muscle tone so that they will bring in more profit in the slave auctions. Although Jessie eventually makes his way home, his life has been forever changed.

Related Readings

from Escape From the Slave Traders—excerpt from the novel by Dave and Neta Jackson

"The Fiery Abolitionists"—historical nonfiction by William Loren Katz

"Bury Me in a Free Land"—poem by Frances E. W. Harper

"Afro-American Fragment" and "American Heartbreak"—poems by Langston Hughes

"Clayton Holbert, Ottowa, Kansas"—interview by Leta Gray

from Return With Honor—excerpt from the personal narrative by Captain Scott O'Grady

Study Guide (PDF)


McGraw-Hill / Glencoe