Name

There is a section in American Gods which detailed the early slave trade in a gruesome fashion. It follows a pair of twins as they were transported from their home, onto the slave ship and finally as they were separated in the New World. They never saw each other again, with the brother dying in the slave revolt of Haiti and the sister eventually finding a semi-fulfilling life (maybe?) in New Orleans.

I’m not sure why this particular passage hit me so deeply. Part of the reason might be my personal interactions with twins, and seeing how they can be so intertwined. Forcefully separating any family is a travesty, but destroying the bonds of fraternal or identical twins seems somehow worse. The chapter reminded me of Three Identical Strangers, and how even though the triplets were separated, they presented similar personality traits when the reunited years later.

Maybe it’s how Gaiman described the entire affair. While he did write about the physical tortures that characters had to suffer through, he also detailed all the new names that the character had assigned to them. This little detail really made me pause. I guess I’ve never really thought about how humanizing a name is, how an identity is so important to self worth.

If I write enough, hopefully I can better express how poignant passages touches me.

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