What seem some connotations of the title? Why doesn’t Seacole call her memoirs, My Life in the Crimea, or something similar? What does she seem to want to emphasize?
Why do you think an introductory preface was included? Who was W. H. Russell, and what does his preface add to her text?
Who was W. J. S.? [possibly an editor for Seacole’s publisher; could be William James Stillman?] What do you think may have been his “editorial” contribution?
Under what circumstances and toward what aim was this published? How might its intended audience have affected Seacole’s narrative account? (British audience, 80)
What are some features of Seacole’s narrative voice? What is the effect of her frequent use of the "you" form?
Is she ever coy? What do you think of her attempts to assert/attest to her respectability?
How does she use third person testimonials? How does she attempt to establish her credentials? (e. g., quotes Punch, 126, 134, publishes letters, 127-133) Were the letters of testimonial solicited?
In what way does she use statements of her friends’ opinions (rather than her own)? Indirect descriptions of her emotions?
What are some instances of irony? (77, 78, 79, 98)
What do we learn about Seacole’s past? What attitudes does she express toward her father? Her mother?
Her late husband was a white Englishman, Edwin Horatio Hamilton Seacole, with whom she kept a store during their eight year marriage. What attitudes towards him does Seacole express? (seems dismissive)
Did she have any formal schooling?
What attitudes does she manifest toward sickness? Toward travel? Toward war? Are her motives ever mixed?
What are some instances of racism which she encountered, and how does she deal with these? (claims to have ignored hostility, but clearly angry and in some cases, alarmed)
Does she herself judge people in categories? If so, what kind of categories? How might her comments on those of certain national groups have affected her audience?
How does she characterize the English? (106) Muslims? (110) Other groups? Why may she have expressed a preference for Anglo-Turks? (111)
Do any of her comments or descriptions seem to indicate racism—or merely a tendency to view everyone in terms of race or ethnicity?
What were her interests or talents as a businesswoman? Does she explain these clearly? Does she seem to enjoy business speculation, and if so, of what type?
What episodes seem to affront her most as a businesswoman? (thievery, 117)
Are there aspects of her story which may have been omitted from her narrative? Any incidents which seem less than credible?
What seems to have been her relationship to the medical establishment? To Florence Nightingale and her operation? What are some reasons Nightingale might not have wished her assistance? (77, 79)
What does she claim is her intention regarding Crimean doctors? (125)
What does Seacole seem to have gained emotionally from her endeavor? What roles does she seem to want to fulfill? How does she describe herself, emotionally and physically? (“Mother Seacole,” 127, portly, 86, surrogate wife or mother, 144, speaks of “my sons,” 152 an English woman, 188)
Why do you think she repeatedly refers to herself as an “old lady”?
Does Seacole hold political views, and if so, what are these?
What are some features of her character? (energetic, determined, capable of masking aggression, bold, transgresses rules, 103)
What tasks does Seacole believe are most suitable for women? (100) Of her repeated references to the soldiers’ desire for a woman’s ministrations? (128)
What do you make of the story in which she tries to conceal that her horse is diseased? (123-24)
Where does W. H. Russell appear in her account? (132, 147, 151, 162, 171) Who was he, and what importance did he have in her life?
How large an operation was the “British Hotel”? (138) What foods were served? What significance does the provision of food have in the narrative?
What is the effect of her constant appeals to a British home audience? (e. g., 147) Her appeals to an observer? (156)
What is her response to battle? What do you make of her “earnest longing to see more of warfare?” (148)
What is Seacole’s reaction to being under fire? (155) Her treatment of a derelict employee? (158) Her response to the sight of the wounded and dead? (159) Does she help the wounded Russians? What does she take from the battlefield? (167)
What role does she play in the siege of Sebastopol? (169-79) To what distinction does she aspire? (173) What emotions does she feel as she enters the city? (curiosity and excitement, 173)
How does she respond when nearly arrested? (175-76)
What has been her relationship to Mr. Day? Why is he not more described? What happens to him at the end of her account? (198)
What is her/their reaction on learning of the conclusion of the Crimean War? (190, 192) Her response to the need to sell her provisions at a low price? (196)
What do you make of the book’s ending? What characterizes the list of appended names? (200)
Florence Nightingale was offended by the publicity granted Seacole, and claimed that although she had performed many helpful acts, her "Hotel" was a place of loose resort. Can you account for Nightingale's views? To what extent were she and Seacole inhabiting a different reality?
Would you say that it is hard to access Seacole's subjectivity through her narrative? If so, to what do you attribute this? (wears a mask, flatters as well as lashes out, always concerned to assert her respectability)
What can one learn from her narrative about conditions for people of color in Britain during the mid-nineteenth century?
Page numbers from the Schomberg Library Edition, 1988.