73 pages 2 hours read

Charles R. Johnson

Middle Passage

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1990

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Essay Questions

Use these essay questions as writing and critical thinking exercises for all levels of writers, and to build their literary analysis skills by requiring textual references throughout the essay. 

Scaffolded/Short-Answer Essay Questions

Student Prompt: Write a short (1-3 paragraph) response using one of the below bulleted outlines. Cite details from the play over the course of your response that serve as examples and support.

1. Consider the many characters Rutherford meets during his journey from New Orleans to the Republic.

  • Select one of these characters and analyze what aspect of Western philosophy or identity they represent. (topic sentence)
  • Describe one example of how this character demonstrates this identity.
  • Are there any characters that do not fit into an expected philosophy or identity?

2. In Chapter 4, Captain Falcon remarks to Rutherford that “Dualism is a bloody structure of the mind. Subject and object, perceiver and perceived, self and other—these ancient twins are built into mind like the stem-piece of a merchantman.” Based on this quote, consider the following questions.

  • Select one character from the novel: how does dualism fit into their narrative? (topic sentence)
  • Find one example in which dualism is exemplified in this character’s struggle.
  • In your conclusion, discuss whether the dualistic force wins in this character. Why or why not?


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