Copper Sun Chapters 21-22 Summary & Analysis
Part 4: Polly
Chapter 21 Summary: Rice and Snakes
“Polly was tired of working like a common slave” (129). This is further reinforced when she learns of the terrible reality of the rice fields (the primary income of Derbyshire Farms). Teenie explains to Amari and Polly why Mr. Derby buys Africa slave men to work the rice fields: “They knows the rice ‘cause they work it in their own country. They the brains of the whole project here. Massa won’t admit it but he need them men to keep this place goin’. They is what’s makin’ him rich” (130). Polly assumes that she should have certain privileges because she is white and that her treatment as a common slave is wrong. Besides, “What is the advantage of being white if black every day?” (130)
When they visit the rice fields, Polly is amazed at the difficulty of the labour. They speak with Cato (an old, experienced slave) who gives more predictions of their time on the plantation. He figures that Polly will eventually move into the house to do sewing for Mrs. Derby (which she delights in) but that Amari will eventually move out to the fields as “soon as Massa Clay get tired of her” (133). He also states that when they put Amari in the fields, that she will “be dead in five years” (133). The working conditions in the fields are terrible. There is malaria, pneumonia, and the unbearable heat. Cato explains that the rice is planted one seed at a time. Amari asks “what to do?” in order to avoid this awful fate, and he advises her to have Miss Isabelle like her and to “keep on makin’ useful in Massa Clay’s bedroom” (134). A scream is then heard from the field: someone has been bitten by a snake. According to Cato, the bite victim will most likely be dead by sunset.
Chapter 22 Summary: Lashed With a Whip
The chapter opens with Polly reflecting on what she learned about the reality of the rice fields: “This time last year, when she was…