On Being Brought from Africa to America TPCASTT

On Being Brought from Africa to America TPCASTT
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On Being Brought to America from Africa Analysis Activities

On Being Brought from Africa to America by Phillis Wheatley

Lesson Plans by Rebecca Ray

In a few short lines, the poem "On Being Brought from Africa to America" juxtaposes religious language with the institution of slavery, to touch on the ideas of equality, salvation, and liberty. Phillis Wheatley uses several literary elements to convey her complex but succinct message to the reader, and understanding those methods is vital to grappling with the poem. This interactive teaching plan will help students further grasp the concepts involved in Wheatley's poetry, examining the themes, symbols, and vocabulary she used.


On Being Brought from Africa to America

Storyboard Description

TPCASTT analysis | Phillis Wheatley On Being Brought from Africa to America

Storyboard Text

  • T - TITLE
  • P - PARAPHRASE
  • C - CONNOTATION
  • A - ATTITUDE/TONE
  • S - SHIFT
  • T - TITLE
  • T - THEME
  • The title implies that the speaker will discuss a journey from Africa, presumably their home, to America, possibly as a slave.​
  • The first half of the poem explains that the speaker’s trip from Africa to America coincided with her becoming a Christian. In the last four lines she cautions others Christians to remember that even Africans can, like the speaker, find salvation in Christ.
  • Wheatley implies a strong and complex relationship between her religion and her slavery. She reminds Americans that black people are not evil and that before God, all Christians are equal, no matter their race.
  • Words like “mercy”, “Pagan”, “Savior”, “redemption”, “diabolical”, and “angelic” reinforce the religious nature of the poem and create a contrast in the speaker’s life before and after her enslavement. Her tone is straightforward, compassionate, and deeply personal, but also gently admonishing.
  • A shift occurs at the middle of the poem. The speaker switches from describing her own life to pointing out the implications of her story. Within the second half of the poem there is a shift between the two couplets; the speaker ends by directly addressing Christian readers.
  • After reading the poem, my interpretation of the title was partially correct. The narrator, who was once a slave, was brought to America, where she became a Christian. Her journey from Africa to America was one of enslavement, but coincided with her salvation.
  • The theme of Christianity echoes through each line of this poem. Salvation overshadows enslavement in the transformative journey, and she urges readers to remember that all Christians are equal before God.
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