Copper Sun Symbols and Motifs

Sharon Draper

Copper Sun

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Copper Sun Symbols and Motifs

The Copper Sun

The title of the book comes from the motif of the copper sun on which Amari focuses her attention several times in the novel. Depending on the current state of mood she is in, the sun is either a welcoming, familiar comfort that gives her strength, or it is a distant, ominous, and harmful power. When Amari is in physically demanding conditions, the sun adds to her distress, like when she is on the ship of death or introduced to life in the rice fields at the plantation. However, the sun is also aligned with her sense of home. She happily describes it while she is in her African village, and when they finally reach freedom in Fort Mose, the overwhelming sense of “home” is described alongside the description of the sun. This may be Draper’s acknowledgement of the universal human experience, that we all see things from a different perspective depending on our circumstances. The copper sun is described as a “copper pot” both in Africa and in America, and, although, for Amari this shared metaphor seems impossible, it is a comment on the small size of the world.


The word “spirit” in Copper Sun seems to be used as a description of the underlying essence of someone—the “life force” that gives an individual his or her purpose. Spirit is that eternal, transcendent quality of a person that can still be present even after the person is dead. It can also be broken when a person is still alive. Although Amari lost her family, as long as she remembers them, their spirits are still with her. She feels Kwasi’s spirit whenever she spends time with Tidbit, and it is the spirit of her family and homeland that enables her to accept being pregnant with Clay Derby’s child. In other words, because a spirit is a person’s essence, it doesn’t matter what Amari’s new child will look like (whether it is black or white) because it will be imbued with the spirit of her family who she loves. Conversely, when Amari reunites with Besa, he admits to her…

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