Aprha Behn (ca. 1640-1689)
Oroonoko, or the Royal Slave
Things to Consider:
Discussion Questions (See Part Two ):
- Travel Narrative
- Race and Colonialism
- Types of Slavery
- Naming and Identity
- Role of Gender and Standards of Beauty
- Religion and Morality
- What three older literary forms, according to the editors,
does Behn combine in her narrative?
- According to the editors, what is the role of the Englishwoman
who narrates the story?
- Explain: "[W]here there is no novelty there can be no
- Explain the process of securing slaves in Surinam.
- Why does the Narrator take such care to distinguish Oroonoko's
looks from more typical "Negroes"?
- Explain the significance of the pledge of love between
Oroonoko and Imoinda.
- Why does the king claim Imoinda even though he knows she is
betrothed to Oroonoko?
- Why is Oroonoko sent away from the king's court on pain of
- How is Oroonoko able to secure victory for his army?
- Explain the discussion of gods and honor.
Other Discussion Questions:
- Describe Behn's background.
- What is the significance of Behn's being buried in Westminster
- Explain the quote from Virginia Woolf.
- In what ways, according to the editors, is Oroonoko original?
- In what ways, according to Behn, is a poet like a painter?
- In what way, according to Behn, are her patron and his wife
like Adam and Eve?
- Explain the opening paragraph of the narrative.
- Why is the Narrator providing so much detail about the
animals, feathers, and beads traded with the slaves of Surinam?
- Explain the narrator's attitude toward the "Indians" she
- Explain: "[T]hey have all that is called beauty, except the
- What is a Moor?
- How does Oroonoko become general at the age of 17?
- How, according to the Narrator, has Oroonoko achieved
"greatness of soul" (1038)?
- How is Imoinda portrayed here?
- Why does Oroonoko present slaves to her?
- Why does Oroonoko go hunting before telling his grandfather,
the king, about Imoinda?
- How does Oroonoko respond to the news that his grandfather has
- Explain the relationship between new wives and old wives.
- How will Aboan assist Oroonoko with Onahal?
- Explain the interaction between Oroonoko and Imoinda.
- How does Imoinda stop the king from killing her for sleeping
- Why does he send both Imoinda and Onahal to be sold into
- Why would it have been nobler to have killed Imoinda?
- How does Oroonoko respond to the news of Imoinda's apparent
- Explain the relationship between Oroonoko and the slave ship
- Why does the captain enslave Oroonoko?
- How does Oroonoko convince his brethren to eat aboard the
- Why are all the "noble
slaves" separated in Surinam?
- Why does Oroonoko inspire
- How does Oroonoko incite his
fellow slaves to revolt?
- Why do the other slaves abandon Oroonoko?
- Why does Oroonoko decide to
kill Imoinda? How does she respond when he tells her what he
plans to do?
- Why is Oroonoko unable to
execute his plan of revenge after killing Imoinda?
- Explain Oroonoko's final
- Explain the Narrator's final words.
- How would you characterize the Narrator's involvement
in the story? To what extent is she reponsible for the
ultimate resolution of events? Explain.
- In the end, how sympathetically is Oroonoko portrayed
by the Narrator? Explain.
Other Discussion Questions:
- What is a backearay?
- Why does Trefry rename
- Explain the Narrator's
discussion of the "female pen."
- Why do the other slaves bow
down and kiss Oroonoko's feet?
- How does Oroonoko respond to
- Describe the slave called
- Describe Imoinda's reunion
- Why is Oroonoko's
French companion not made a slave?
- Why are Oroonoko and Imoinda
promised their freedom? Why is Oroonoko
- How do the whites view his behavior in this regard?
- How does the Narrator assuage Oroonoko's
- Why does the
Narrator describe Surinam in such great detail?
- Why do the Narrator
and others raid tigers' dens?
- Explain the Narrator's use of
the masculine pronoun to refer to the female tiger.
- Why does Oroonoko
seek to kill the tiger no one has been able to?
- How has the tiger been able to survive with seven
bullets in her heart?
- Explain what happens with the eel.
- Explain the interaction of the Narrator and
Oroonoko's group with the citizens of the Indian
- Explain the role of the Peeie.
- Explain the process whereby the Indians choose a
- Describe William Byam, the deputy governor.
- Why does Oroonoko refuse to
accept Byam's terms for surrender?
- Why does he finally agree to do so?
- What has the Narrator believed Oroonoko
would do when she first learns of his escape?
- Why does Oroonoko rip open his own belly when the
mobile confronts him?
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