"Copper Sun," Vocabulary from Part 1

September 3, 2013
A brutal tale of the American slave trade, "Copper Sun" by Sharon Draper is told through the eyes of a young girl. Her humiliations and beatings are rendered in detail, but the character's will and determination to escape survive her hardships.

Learn these word lists for the novel: Part 1, Parts 2-5, Parts 6-7, Parts 8-11
Kwasi snatched back the coconut and ran off then, laughing and making kissing noises as he chanted, “Besa my love, Besa my love, Besa my love!”
She headed there, walking leisurely, with just the slightest awareness of a certain new roundness to her hips and smoothness to her gait as she waited for Besa to catch up with her.
Amari and Besa had been formally betrothed to each other last year.
Amari looked intently at his face and realized he was worried.
“Your father and the rest of the elders will decide, but I’m sure the visit of such strangers will be cause for much festivity.”
Throughout the village, the pungent smells of goat stew and peanut soup, along with waves of papaya and honeysuckle that wafted through the air, made Amari feel hungry as well as excited.
Everyone in the village came out of their houses to see the astonishing sight—pale, unhealthy-looking men who carried large bundles and unusual-looking sticks as they marched into the center of the village.
However, the unusual-looking men were accompanied by warriors from the Ashanti tribe, men of her own land, men her people had known and traded with, so even if the village elders were concerned, it would be unacceptable not to show hospitality.
Heroism is the dignity of our ancestors, and, in their name, we welcome you.
Their bodies swayed, their hands clapped, their feet stomped in a glorious frenzy, all to the rhythm of the drums.
More explosions followed in rapid succession, then everyone was screaming.
Amari’s mother screamed in anguish and bit her captor’s hand.
The smell of sharp, acrid smoke, not of gentle hearth fires, but of the flames of destruction, followed them.
Kwasi held her hand tighter and they ran even faster, Amari trying in vain to be as invisible and swift as the wind.
Her arms were wrenched behind her, and iron shackles with heavy, rusty chains between them were snapped onto her wrists, holding them there.
All of the homes had been burned, their roofs of thatch and walls of reeds consumed by the fire.
The charred and bloodied bodies of relatives remained where they had fallen, with no one to perform proper rites for burials, no one to say the prayers for the dead.
Once the villagers were all linked, a white face pulled the first person with a rope, and those linked to him lurched forward as well.
As she walked, she tried but couldn’t comprehend the incredible cruelty of the men who had done this.
Her back was soon a patchwork of welts from being whipped when she could not keep up with the rest.
The smell engulfed her next—the odor of sweat and fear, of body wastes and hopelessness.
She could not remember the last time she had eaten, so when the guards tossed some chunks of bread through the opening, she was grateful.
She showed Amari how to walk with a limp and look with a vacant, stupid stare to make sure the soldiers would pass her by when they looked for women to come to their rooms.
Intense, fiery pain pierced the sweaty softness of the skin above her left shoulder.
The salve must have been effective, for the intense pain gradually subsided and was replaced by a duller throbbing that would not go away.
It had been a long time since they had been given anything to eat, and she was amazed when the holding pen was opened and generous portions of water and food—fresh fruit, boiled cassava, and some kind of fish stew—were distributed to them.
They had been won in battle or traded in negotiations between villages and tribes.
She thought of Kwasi, the little bird who would never fly again, but, in a way, she was glad he would not have to endure any of these horrors.
Bubbling, churning, even leaping onto the land, it seemed to Amari that the ocean was reaching out to grab and devour her.
She looked back with longing at the land of her birth.
It was the lament sung at a funeral—a death song.
They were whipped and chained and led back to the fetid dungeon where they had been all night.
In spite of her injuries, Afi managed to twist her lips into a rueful laugh.
This is just the beginning of many nights of horrible humiliation.
Every morning the women were fed, doused with salt water, and made to dance.
Rats, now grown huge and healthy, chewed on the emaciated bodies of some of the men chained there.
Too weak to move, she lay huddled in a ball, bemoaning the fact that she was still alive.
The sailors were no longer allowed to molest the women at night.
Besa glared at him, but he understood the danger of retaliation.
The girl had a sullen look on her face, and she seemed to be the only person not interested in what was going on at the slave sale.

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