Barracoon

by

Zora Neale Hurston

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Cudjo’s wife, an ex-slave brought to America on the Clotilda whom he meets after the founding of Africatown. Cudjo loves Seely deeply; for him, she represents the tranquil and family-centered lifestyle that he grew up and that was lost to him during his enslavement. During their marriage Seely emerges as a sensible and capable woman; she and Cudjo enjoy an equal partnership and appear to be equally devoted parents. After all of their children die, Seely becomes ill herself and dies quickly. Cudjo concludes that although Seely wants to stay with him and is sad to think of him alone, she needs to be in heaven with her children.

Abila / Seely Quotes in Barracoon

The Barracoon quotes below are all either spoken by Abila / Seely or refer to Abila / Seely. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Amistad edition of Barracoon published in 2018.
Chapter 9 Quotes

We doan know nothin’ ‘bout dey have license over here in dis place. So den we gittee married by de license, but I doan love my wife no mo’ wid de license than I love her befo’ de license. She a good woman and I love her all de time.

Related Characters: Kossula / Cudjo Lewis (speaker), Abila / Seely
Page Number: 72
Explanation and Analysis:

Dat de first time in de Americky soil dat death find where my door is. But we from cross de water know dat he come in de ship with us.

Related Symbols: Boats and the Middle Passage
Page Number: 74
Explanation and Analysis:

Dey sing, ‘Shall We Meet Beyond De River.’ I been a member of de church a long time now, and I know de words of de song wid my mouth, but my heart it doan know dat. Derefo’ I sing inside me, ‘O todo ah wah n-law yah-lee, owrran k-nee ra ra k-nee ro ro.’

Page Number: 74
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 10 Quotes

I tell her come and drop de beans while I hill dem up […] After a while she say, ‘Cudjo you doan need me drop no beans. You cain work ‘thout no woman ‘round you. You bringee me here for company.’

I say, ‘Thass right.’

Related Characters: Kossula / Cudjo Lewis (speaker), Abila / Seely
Page Number: 78
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Barracoon LitChart as a printable PDF.
Barracoon PDF

Abila / Seely Character Timeline in Barracoon

The timeline below shows where the character Abila / Seely appears in Barracoon. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 9
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
...begins to notice a woman “from cross de water,” originally named Abila but now called Seely. He’s not married yet, and almost everyone else in the town has a family. (full context)
Cultural Relativism Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Cudjo approaches Seely and says that he wants to marry her because “I ain’t got nobody.” Seely asks... (full context)
Cultural Relativism Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Sometime afterward, Cudjo and Seely convert to Christianity officially. In the church, they are told that it’s not “right” to... (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
Cultural Relativism Theme Icon
Cudjo and Seely have six children, five sons and one daughter. They are very happy during this time,... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
...his children deeply and does everything possible to help them, as a teenager Cudjo’s daughter Seely gets sick with a fever. Despite receiving medical attention, she dies. Cudjo’s wife Seely is... (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
Cultural Relativism Theme Icon
According to Christian tradition, young Seely has a funeral in the church and is buried in a coffin. Everyone gathers and... (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
...to see his son struggling for breath, and wishes he could die in his place. Seely stands by the bed, crying and encouraging her son not go give up hope, but... (full context)
Chapter 10
Family Theme Icon
...the morning of the accident, Cudjo decides to plant beans in his garden. He asks Seely to come and help him, instructing her to drop the seeds while he covers them... (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...home, so Cudjo decides to take his horse into Mobile to buy more. He asks Seely for some money and she gives him three dollars, more than he needs. He asks... (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...so he goes to the market, planning to buy some meat and go home to Seely. His son David, who has stayed in the courthouse, comes to find him and announces... (full context)
Chapter 11
The American Dream Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...One Easter Sunday, Cudjo and his family are preparing for a big dinner. David asks Seely for some food, but his mother says he’s not getting anything to eat before his... (full context)
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...people stop sayin’ dat my son on the shutter.” When they arrive at the house, Seely screams and faints. Cudjo looks at the head again and finally realizes that this is... (full context)
Slavery and Racism Theme Icon
The American Dream Theme Icon
Seely falls to the floor weeping and screaming; Cudjo is so overwhelmed that he runs into... (full context)
Slavery and Racism Theme Icon
The American Dream Theme Icon
Cudjo and Seely try to talk to Poe-lee and persuade him to be satisfied with his life, but... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
Cudjo tries to be especially kind to Seely, who is distraught by the loss of her children. Still, she’s taken to crying all... (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
After they bury Jimmy, Cudjo and Seely are alone in their house, which was once so full. They know that they can’t... (full context)
Chapter 12
Family Theme Icon
Cudjo brings his narrative to a close by saying that one night, Seely wakes up suddenly and tells him that she’s been dreaming about the children and that... (full context)
Cultural Relativism Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
The next week Seely dies, although she’s never shown any signs of illness. Seely doesn’t want to leave Cudjo,... (full context)
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...that he cannot, because it belongs to Charlie. Cudjo says that the parasol is like Seely, who belongs to God and was only left “by my door” for a certain time. (full context)