Francis Bok was born in what he remembers as a delightful, illiterate childhood in Southern Sudan. In his book entitled “Escape from Slavery,” he is only seven in 1986 when he travelled from the village to the marketplace alone for the first time. Thereafter, freedom becomes a thing of the past in the country. As he narrates the events leading to the prolonged lack of liberty in Southern Sudan, the author uses the theme of fear and freedom fear to illustrate his arguments.
Finally, he evades the torturous psychological trials. For instance, he had to learn Arabic and try to locate parents who were unheard of in a decade. Besides the struggle in finding them, he is in constant fear of informants who at one point designate him an enemy and opponent of the government. Through the theme of fear and freedom fear, Francis Bok portrays how each of his experiences as a slave and refugee in different nations alters his initial fear into sociability, which helps him create alliances and eliminate emotional trauma.
Bok’s major obsession is an escape, which encompasses the peril of capture and the amputation of a limb, or solely death. Through the theme of fear and freedom fear, the author portrays the threat that makes an escape from slavery in Southern Sudan nearly impossible. Bok tries his first escape after seven years in internment, at the age of fourteen. However, the escape only lasts only 20 minutes before he is caught and flogged. The following day, he tries again and receives the same punishment with death threats from Giemma. At this point, the inchoate terror of severe mutilation for attempting to escape, which is visible in other slaves, is evidently real and unswervingly aimed at him. Moreover, his transition from adolescent to adulthood is evident very early in the novel. However, the author demonstrates how he achieves it through the realization of the contiguity of mutilation or death should he seek liberty.
The violence-induced fear of escape consequences in pursuit of freedom haunts the escapee slave narrative tradition. The theme of fear and freedom fear portrays the competition between horror and desire which materializes with escape experiences. As such, it motivates slave narrative to a resolution point. Agreeably, death is not inevitably the worst consequence. “I was confused,” Bok explains, “I did not want to die, but wasn’t living with these people a kind of death? (Bok, 57)” Therefore, this quote shows his drive and motivation to pursue freedom despite fear. After three years, in which he was waiting to gain the sufficient adulthood to accomplish an efficacious escape, he flees to a neighboring provincial city where the police make him their unsalaried kitchen boy. Apparently, this is not the escape result he anticipates; therefore, he remains a slave. Hence, despite escaping the previous hardship, he has renewed fear that he might never be free.
The slavery experiences affect Bok intellectually, socially and psychologically in various ways. Firstly, he escapes slavery ignorant of almost everything except the local geography. Therefore, choosing the next destination is an exercise that relies on generosity and assistance. However, he is intellectually rational that most people have no inspiration to help afar their conscience. Consequently, the geographical know-how he gained, in his country and later in Egypt and the U.S., helps him find other Dinka (Bok 58). As such, his social strategy is to relocate himself with a familiar culture. Therefore, the book depicts culture comfort as the therapy to social trauma. After joining the global refugee community, the Dinka diaspora defines the geography of his life. An Arab friend helps him escape further north; thus, experiencing his first Arab antislavery scruples. He hides in the driver’s apartment for two months, which somewhat changes his perception of Arabs. With time, he gets over his psychological trauma emanating from his previous encounter with Arabs.