47 - Walter Mosley

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Monica McLelland
English 306: Children’s Literature II: Young Adult Literature TR 2:30pm – 3:45pm
Reflection: 47

47, written by Walter Mosley, is the story of a 14 year old slave who lives on a cotton plantation in Georgia. 47 has lived in the house and barn all his life, thus giving him a clouded vision of what slave life is really like. One day he is relocated to the slave chambers where his universe is turned upside down. 47 meets a presumably runaway slave, named Tall John who in all reality is an extraterrestrial. Through their friendship Tall John teaches 47 all about freedom and his world. Through the text we are given a chance to find a new experience with the world of slave history, African American folklore, and science fiction.

After researching articles the main focus of discussion is the unique combining of the slave narrative with the science fiction. Slavery is still a very touchy subject. Whites do not want to relive the horrid treatment that they put upon the slaves and slaves do not want to read and learn about the harm done to their ancestors. Walter Mosley chose to write this story to convey the story of slavery from a first person narrative but also to put a spin on it so that it wouldn’t be so depressing. The text has some amazing, out of this world gadgets and healing devices but I am even more compelled to think that the truth it brings to light is an even more powerful thing. As Hazel Rochman stated I have to fully agree, “slavery is the most unbelievable part of this whole story”. In “Conversations with Walter Mosley” by Owen Edward Brady we read that Walter Mosley’s novels are filled with “folk archetypes”. In 47 we are able to see the full list of archetypes being fulfilled. The archetypal seeker could be Tall John leaving his planet to come to earth to find 47. It could also be 47 leaving the big house to end up in the slave quarters. The Junex verses the Senex could be the conflict between Pritchard and 47. The...