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On Being Brought from Africa to America

On Being Brought from Africa to America


by Phillis Wheatley

On Being Brought from Africa to America Theme of Religion

Pagans and angels and Christians, oh my! Wheatley lays the religion on heavy in her poetry, especially in "On Being Brought from Africa to America." And although she's far away from home, America has become a real-life Oz for the speaker, where she finds religion and faith. Not only that, but her conversion to Christianity parallels her transition from Africa to America, and becomes a source for her belief that all people are equal. Now click your heels three times and read on….

Questions About Religion

  1. How does Wheatley use the idea of redemption as a catalyst for change in race relations? In other words, how does her Christian faith become an argument for the equality of blacks and whites? 
  2. How does Wheatley intertwine race and religion in her poem? What effect does that mixture have? 
  3. How does Wheatley use images of blackness or darkness to double as a reference for spiritual change on a personal level, and social change in race relations?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Like life, Wheatley's poem is not a destination; it's a journey—filled with angels, pagans, Cain, and a "sable race," which she uses to express her conversion to Christianity.

All aboard the angelic train! Through several mentions of Christian themes, Wheatley uses the Christian promise of salvation as an argument for equality in life.

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