“Fortune was born; he died.”

When we first started talking about the quotation used in this first line of Fortune’s Bones Preface, I was curious as to why we were spending so much of our class time on such minute detail. There was so much more to the preface, why spend so much time on punctuation? That was until we dove deeper into the meaning behind the punctuation, and what the author was conveying. The semicolon, in this context, was the author’s way of summarizing someone’s life in a sentence. The author summarizes Fortune’s life by saying the beginning and end of his life, the semicolon symbolizing everything in between. His life being summarized into a punctuation was the author’s way of showing that Fortune’s life, or the life of a slave, wasn’t important enough to elaborate on, and wasn’t worth talking about. That he was simply someone that lived and died. This exemplifies how all slaves were seen at that time, people who simply lived, died, and didn’t have any true essence. They were seen as objects, not people. Later in the preface, the author asks questions about what Fortune must have been like. For example, Marilyn Nelson says “Was Fortune bitter? Was he good or bad? Did he sometimes throw his head back and laugh?”(Nelson, 11) But all that was left of him was his bones, and no one remembered his life or his name. “His bones say only that he served and died, that he was useful, even into death, stripped of his name, his story, and his flesh.” This topic of discussion has made me think about how valuable life is, as well as made me appreciate my life on a greater scale. My understanding of the value of life increased because of how easily someone reduced someone else’s life into nothing. This also increased my appreciation of my own life because my life is valued to its fullness. Furthermore, it’s a reminder to make sure that you don’t reduce others to something less than who they are. Another discussion in class that has had me thinking throughout my day to day life is the idea of bad faith versus good faith. I am constantly thinking of whether my actions are within good or bad faith. In relation to this, I make sure that the motives of my good faith actions aren’t corrupt. I think about why I do something, and if it is for the betterment or detriment of the other person. I have yet to experience a moment since that discussion where I acted in bad faith. However, I am positive that if I do find myself acting in bad faith, I will think back to that discussion and make myself aware of the fact that I acted in the wrong. Something else that I have been thinkING about from class is how reading aloud can help us understand a passage more clearly. I have been using this in my other classes, in addition to this one, and it is more helpful than I had anticipated it would be. When I read a passage over and I don’t understand what I’m reading, I think back to that discussion in earlier classes, and I apply that to difficult readings. For example, in my poetry reading and text class, our readings are by authors using old English, and though I have a general understanding of what they say, reading out loud has helped me tremendously when it comes to fully understanding the text. I think reading out loud during class is important for me to begin doing during class as well. This is because it will help me not only understand the text more clearly, but also increase my confidence in public speaking. Developing the confidence to raise my hand during class to read is something I am working on currently. I usually don’t have a problem with raising my hand to answer a question, however, it’s when I have to read out loud where my confidence falters. I realize that this is because I have a fear of embarrassment and failure in class, so I have trouble volunteering to read during class in case I pronounce something incorrectly. Lastly, my senior year of high school I had a project on the Tuskegee Syphilis study. A lot of what we are learning in this class is about racism and medical studies, which is what my project was on. Therefore, I am curious as to if I will be able to make connections to what I learned while making the project. I also watched the movie on Henrietta Lacks in senior year. I know that we are reading the book that the movie is about, and I am curious what else I have left to learn about it. I’ve been curious about what the book is actually like as well, since the movie is about the interviews from Henrietta’s daughter. I am curious to see how I have developed as a reader, writer, and person by the end of this course. 

Nelson, Marilyn. 2004. Fortune’s Bones. Front Street, Asheville, North Carolina.

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