The Resurrection of Nat Turner, Part 1: The Witnesses
Leading a small army of slaves, Nat Turner was a man born with a mission: to set the captives free. When words failed, he ignited an uprising that left over fifty whites dead. In the predawn hours of August 22, 1831, Nat Turner stormed into history with a Bible in one hand, brandishing a sword in the other. His rebellion shined a national spotlight on slavery and the state of Virginia and divided a nation’s trust. Turner himself became a lightning rod for abolitionists like Harriet Beecher Stowe and a terror and secret shame for slave owners.
In The Resurrection of Nat Turner, Part 1: The Witnesses, Nat Turner’s story is revealed through the eyes and minds of slaves and masters, friends and foes. In their words is the truth of the mystery and conspiracy of Nat Turner’s life, death, and confession.
The Resurrection of Nat Turner spans more than sixty years, sweeping from the majestic highlands of Ethiopia to the towns of Cross Keys and Jerusalem in Southampton County. Using extensive research, Sharon Ewell Foster breaks hallowed ground in this epic novel, revealing long-buried secrets about this tragic hero.
Reading Group Guide
1. Relationships between captors and captives, slaves and masters were complex—despite slave codes and laws. Discuss examples from the book (for example, Easter and Lavinia, Nat Turner and his father, Nathaniel Francis and Charlotte). Share examples from your own family history.
2. Mosaic Law lays down laws that ameliorate slavery, for example: Exodus 21:20, Exodus 21:26, Deuteronomy 5:14–15, Deuteronomy 21:10–14, Deuteronomy 23:15–16, Deuteronomy 24:14–15, 1 Timothy 1:9–11. Was slavery in America based on biblical law? Why or why not?
3. Many slaves suffered but did not fight back. What in Nat Turner’s background might have predisposed him to take up arms?
4. In The Resurrection of Nat Turner, Part 1: The Witnesses, names are important, particularly slave names. What is the significance of a slave having one or two names? The author refers to Easter as “auntie Easter” rather than “Auntie Easter” and to Charlotte as “Wicked Charlotte” rather than “wicked Charlotte.” What do you think the author is attempting to convey through use of this l see more