Middle Passage

Often the main character or protagonist of a story is forced two different ways or is pressured to make a life changing decision. In Middle Passage, author Charles Johnson uses journal entries to tell the incredible journey of the protagonist, Rutherford Calhoun, and his adventure through the middle passage. Rutherford leaves his quiet country home in Illinois for the bigger, more active city of New Orleans. Rutherford quickly becomes in debt and is desperately in need of money in order to pay his dues. In New Orleans, Rutherford meets a schoolteacher named Isadora and falls into a dilemma unlike no other. By pressuring Rutherford to marry her, Isadora forced Rutherford to make a decision; Rutherford chose to board the Republic, a decision that changed his life forever.
Isadora put so much pressure on Rutherford that he felt the need to run away from the city he loved and escape to a different continent. “In my case it was Isadora Bailey who led me to become a cook aboard the Republic. Isadora entered a scheme so cunning that my only choices were… or marriage, which was, for a man like me, worse than imprisonment” (1). The only real alternative or option Rutherford had to avoid marriage or imprisonment was to flee via ship. Had Isadora not mentioned marriage to Papa then Rutherford most likely would not have boarded the Republic. Rutherford liked Isadora but he did not want to get married. Isadora took this as an insult and made it her personal goal to find a way to marry Rutherford Calhoun. Rutherford’s did not want to leave New Orleans but was forced to with all the pressure from Papa and Isadora. Rutherford had two difficult obligations that he was forced to choose from; marry Isadora or get arrested and possibly killed by Papa.
Aboard the ship Rutherford is also faced with a difficult situation that requires action. “But here, let it be said, that in waters as strange as these, where any allegiance looked misplaced, I could no longer find my loyalties”...