Character Analysis Uncle Benjamin


Because of their closeness in age, Linda thinks of Uncle Benjamin as more of a brother than an uncle. Therefore, his experiences touch her deeply, and Uncle Benjamin holds a special place in her heart, as illustrated by the fact that she names her son Ben.

Having been sold at age ten for $720, Benjamin also holds a special place in his mother's heart and she struggles diligently but unsuccessfully to buy her youngest son's freedom. In his 20s, Benjamin runs away, only to be captured, imprisoned, and eventually sold for $300. Determined to be free, he runs away again and, because of his light skin, is able to pass for white, although as a result of choosing this avenue of escape, he is lost to his family forever.

Benjamin's plight illustrates the soul-destroying experiences of a man forced to live as a slave. Linda's son also survives by passing as white, until his coworkers discover his true identity. Despite young Ben's family's struggles and sacrifices, his position in society is probably the same as that of his great uncle.