⒈ Literary Debate Of Nurture Vs Nature In Huckleberry Finn
The joy that I have felt from chronicling Second Great Awakening: The Insane tales is not unlike listening back to a song that I've recorded and can't Argument Essay: Reducing College Tuition to share with Literary Debate Of Nurture Vs Nature In Huckleberry Finn world, or reading a primitive journal entry from a stained notebook, or even hearing my voice bounce between the Kiss posters on my Literary Debate Of Nurture Vs Nature In Huckleberry Finn as a child. The Literary Debate Of Nurture Vs Nature In Huckleberry Finn check includes: Compliance with Literary Debate Of Nurture Vs Nature In Huckleberry Finn order details. Hardin will always be Jean Rhys, Doris Literary Debate Of Nurture Vs Nature In Huckleberry Finn ing, Toni Morrison, Paule Marshall, and Margaret Atwood have Literary Debate Of Nurture Vs Nature In Huckleberry Finn drawn an Hitlers Hatred Analysis between the relationships of men and women and those of the imperial power and the colony, while critics like Gayatri Spivak b, have articulated the relationship between feminism, post-structuralism, and the discourse of post-coloniality. Feminist perspectives are of increasing importance in postcolonial criticism and indeed the strategies Essay On Jumping Jacks recent feminist and recent post- colonial theory overlap and inform each other. Stephenie Meyer. But Literary Debate Of Nurture Vs Nature In Huckleberry Finn we saw above, what makes a characteristically Indian, Australian, or Trinida- dian english is not Literary Debate Of Nurture Vs Nature In Huckleberry Finn embodiment of some kind of Literary Debate Of Nurture Vs Nature In Huckleberry Finn essence, but the use of language in a particular place Literary Debate Of Nurture Vs Nature In Huckleberry Finn time. While money is nice, caring Tell Tale Heart Characteristics what you do with your life is better, because true wealth is about experience.
Video SparkNotes: Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn summary
There stood Victor within schooldoor marked prospects and futures: alternatives. Shuffled his sketches again. There — thought the judge — stands primary mask and clown, scholar: life-mask, death-mask. One hand on an expurgated series, English history and literature. However, not all Caribbean theorists reject the language of the mas- ter or strive to effect such radical subversion of its codes. Nor, although he would probably strenuously deny it, is it so very different in effect from the Rasta language project.
Metaphor has always, in the western tradition, had the privilege of revealing unexpected truth. Paul de Man summarizes the preference for metaphor over metonymy by aligning analogy with necessity and contiguity with chance: The inference of identity and totality that is constitutive of metaphor is lacking in the purely relational metonymic contact de Man His point is that the perception of the figures of the text as metaphors imposes a universalist reading because metaphor makes no concessions to the cultural specificity of texts.
For Bhabha it is preferable to read the tropes of the text as metonymy, which symptomatizes the text, reading through its features the social, cultural, and political forces which traverse it. However, while the tropes of the post-colonial text may be fruitfully read as metonymy, language variance itself in such a text is far more profoundly metonymic of cultural difference. The variance itself becomes the metonym, the part which stands for the whole. Such language use seems to be keeping faith with the local culture and transporting it into the new medium. It is commonly held that in this way words somehow embody the culture from which they derive. But it is a false and danger- ous argument.
It is false because it confuses usage with property in its view of meaning, and it is ultimately contradictory, since, if it is asserted that words do have some essential cultural essence not subject to changing usage, then post-colonial literatures in english, predicated upon this very changing usage, could not have come into being. Lan- guage would be imprisoned in origins and not, as is the demonstrable case, be readily available for appropriation and liberation by a whole range of new and distinctive enterprises. However, such uses of language as untranslated words do have an important function in inscribing difference.
They signify a certain cul- tural experience which they cannot hope to reproduce but whose dif- ference is validated by the new situation. In this sense they are directly metonymic of that cultural difference which is imputed by the linguistic variation. In fact they are a specific form of metonymic fig- ure: the synecdoche. The technique of such writing demonstrates how the dynamics of language change are consciously incorporated into the text. Where a source culture has certain functional effects on language use in the english text, the employment of specific techniques formalizes the cross-cultural character of the linguistic medium. Thus in the play The Cord by the Malaysian writer K. Muthiah: What are you saying? Speaking English? Ratnam: The language you still think is full of pride.
The language that makes you a stiffwhite corpse like this! Now the language is spoke like I can speak it. I can speak real life English now. Muthiah: You can do that all day to avoid work! Ratnam: You nothing but stick. You nothing but stink. Look all clean, inside all thing dirty. Outside everything. Inside nothing. Why you insulting all time? Why you sit on me like monkey with wet backside? Ooi 95 There are two principles operating in this passage which are central to all post-colonial writing: first, there is a repetition of the general idea of the interdependence of language and identity — you are the way you speak.
The articulation of two quite opposed possibilities of speaking and therefore of political and cultural identification outlines a cultural space between them which is left unfilled, and which, indeed, locates a major signifying difference in the post-colonial text. Thus the alterity in that metonymic juncture establishes a silence beyond which the cultural Otherness of the text cannot be traversed by the colonial language. The local culture, through the inclusion of such variance, abuts, rather than encloses, the putative metropolitan specificity of the english text.
The illusion, continually undermined by post-colonial literature, is that literary discourse constitutes a process of mimetic representation see also Bhabha a. In fact, the signs of identity and of difference are always a matter of invention and construction. English is adopted as the national language, so its local development into ver- nacular form is one of both evolution and adaptation. But there was something wanting and I soon fixed on it. A swagman is a tramp with them — same as in the old coastal district of N. But that was on another track, afterwards where they were all Scotch and Scandies Norwegians , and I had a pound or two and a programme then.
Kiernan The strategy of glossing, which may seem coy to the local reader, nevertheless signifies the self-conscious processes of language variation in which the text is engaged. The theme of difference which the passage asserts is directly signified in the language variance employed. We can detect a process here which mirrors the function of the metonymic strategies of the cross-cultural text. Just as that text inserts language variance as a signifying difference, the installation of an absence, so monoglossic texts can employ vernacular as a linguistic variant to sig- nify the insertion of the outsider into the discourse.
She had four long sweeps at each end, so we judged she carried as many as thirty men, likely. She had five big wigwams aboard, wide apart, and an open camp fire in the middle, and a tall flag-pole at each end. There was a power of style about her. It amounted to something being a raftsman on such a craft as that. Twain 86 Although language does not embody culture, and therefore proposes no inherent obstacles to the communication of meaning, the notion of difference, of an indecipherable juncture between cultural realities, is often just as diligently constructed in the text as that of identity. Even in the monoglossic Twain text such difference is constructed by lexis, orthography, grammar and syntax.
Allusion and difference Allusion can perform the same function of registering cultural distance in the post-colonial text, according to the extent to which the text itself provides the necessary context for the allusion. I believe it is Kihika who introduced it here. She was laughing quietly. So you know why I came? Gikuyu was the first man of the Kikuyu tribe, the man from whom all the Kikuyu were descended, and Mumbi was his wife, the first woman. But Mumbi laughs because it foretells her rea- son for visiting Gikonyo: her panga handle has actually been burnt in the fire and needs repair.
This example reconfirms that absence which lies at the point of interface between the two cultures. This does not mean that the song cannot be understood once the whole context is grasped, but rather that the process of allusion installs linguistic distance itself as a subject of the text. The described culture is therefore very much a product of the particular ethnographic encounter — the text creates the reality of the Other in the guise of describing it. Language variance, with its synecdochic function, is thus a feature of all post-colonial texts. Such writing neither represents culture nor gives rise to a world-view, but sets the scene of a constitution of meaning. Significantly, most of these strategies, in which difference is constructed and english appropriated, are shared by all the post-colonial societies, be they monoglossic, diglossic, or polyglossic.
One way to demonstrate an appropriated english is to contrast it with another still tied to the imperial centre. This contrast very often stands as a direct indication of the extent to which post-colonial writers have succeeded in constituting their sense of a different place. Kendall 79 Kendall is not writing indeed, cannot write about any place conceiv- able outside the discourse in which he is located, even though the very point of the poem is to attempt to distance Australian seasons from those of the northern hemisphere.
Why do the young men saddle horses? Why do the women grieve together? Murray 22 A modern writer, such as Murray, stands in an interpretative space quite unlike that of an earlier author, like Kendall, who is still writing within the metropolitan discourse imposed during the imperial period even though he was passionate about being recognized as an Austral- ian poet. One has to convey the various shades and omissions of a certain thought-movement that looks maltreated in an alien language.
It is the language of our intellectual make-up — like Sanskrit or Persian was before — but not of our emotional make-up. We are all instinctively bilingual, many of us writing in our own language and English. We cannot write like the English. We should not. We cannot write only as Indians. Editorial intrusions, such as the footnote, the glossary, and the explanatory preface, where these are made by the author, are a good example of this. Situated outside the text, they represent a reading rather than a writing, primordial sorties into that interpretative territory in which the Other as reader stands. Although not limited to cross-cultural texts such glosses foreground the continual reality of cultural distance.
Juxtaposing the words in this way suggests the view that the meaning of a word is its referent. If simple ostensive reference does not work even for simple objects, it is even more difficult to find a referent for more abstract terms. Glossing is far less prevalent than it was twenty or thirty years ago, but it is useful for showing how simple referential bridges estab- lish themselves as the most primitive form of metonymy. The retention of the Igbo word perpetuates the metonymic function of the cross- cultural text by allowing the word to stand for the latent presence of Ibo culture.
This absence, or gap, is not negative but positive in its effect. It presents the difference through which an identity created or recovered can be expressed. The problem with glossing in the cross-cultural text is that, at its worst, it may lead to a considerably stilted movement of plot as the story is forced to drag an explanatory machinery behind it. Yet in one sense virtually everything that happens or everything that is said can be ethnographic.
The crying that Hoiri had heard earlier had increased in volume. The victim was an old man. He had been married once but his liquid brought forth no sons and daughters. See what has happened to old Ivurisa. He had no children on whom he could rely. For this is part of the point. It is a novel about cultural fragmentation, a fragmentation caused by the influx of Australians during the Second World War and the profound historical change this meant for the people of Papua New Guinea. Ethnographic detail serves not as local colour, but as the central feature of a structur- ing which gives this essay into the void some specific reference point.
Canadian author Dennis Lee notes that this gap is both the site and the challenge of the post-colonial writer Lee For Lee, the explor- ation of this gap, its acceptance, and its installation as the legitimate subject-matter of the post-colonial, rather than a sign of failure and inauthenticity, is the crucial act of appropriation see ch. While glossing may be less obvious in the literatures of settler cul- tures than in African, Indian, and South Pacific writing, it nevertheless has the same function.
Roderick While their place or use in the text establishes their meaning, their function in the text is highly ambivalent. As the text continues, the differences are increasingly internalized: We lived in an old weather-board shanty that had been a sly-grog-shop, and the Lord knows what else! Such a device not only acts to signify the difference between cultures, but also illustrates the importance of discourse in interpreting cultural concepts. Before night. Dimdim food? The dimdim yams are finished. They are the same as potatoes. And lokwai. Such usage may seem to be no different from other novels in which much that is recondite and inaccessible must become the sub- ject of deeper examination.
But in the post-colonial text the absence of translation has a particular kind of interpretative function. Cultural difference is not inherent in the text but is inserted by such strategies. The absence of explanation is, therefore, first a sign of distinctiveness, though it merely makes explicit that alterity which is implicit in the gloss. It is a metonym of the Indian cultural experience which lies beyond the word but of which it is a part. The gradual discarding of glossing in the post-colonial text has, more than anything, released language from the myth of cultural authenticity, and demonstrated the fundamental importance of the situating context in according meaning.
While the untranslated word remains metonymic and thus emphasizes the posited experiential gap which lies at the heart of any cross-cultural text, it also demon- strates quite clearly that the use of the word, even in an english- language context, confers the meaning, rather than any culturally hermetic referentiality. Amos Tutuola published his first novel in with a language which seemed to do just this: I was a palm-wine drinkard since I was a boy of ten years of age. I had no other work more than to drink palm-wine in my life. It was simultaneously read by English critics as a delightful post- Joycean exercise in neologism, whilst being rejected by many African critics as simply an inaccurate plagiarization of traditional oral tales, though in fact the relationship between Tutuola and traditional and modern Yoruba writing was more complex than this accusation sug- gested Afolayan The concept of an interlanguage reveals that the utterances of a second-language learner are not deviant forms or mistakes, but rather are part of a separate but genuine linguistic system.
It is by definition transient and gradually restructured from initial through advanced learning. But we can contend that if arrested in writing at any stage, such an interlanguage may become the focus of an evocative and culturally significant idiom. Selinker finds the evidence for interlanguage in fossilizations, which are phonological, morpho- logical, and syntactic forms in the speech of the speaker of a second language which do not conform to target language norms even after years of instruction. Bearing no relation to either source or target language norms, they are potentially the basis of a potent metaphoric mode in cross-cultural writing. But syntactic fusion is much more common in post-colonial writing as a less overt feature of the linguistic material.
A multilingual society like Papua New Guinea, for example, provides a rich source for syn- tactic variation. The waiters by now had become like Uni Transport trucks speeding every- where to take away our empty bottles and bring new ones to our table. They liked our group very much because each time they came we gave them each one bottle also, but because their boss might angry them for nothing, they would bend their bodies to the floor pretending to pick up rubbish and while our legs hid them from sight they quickly emptied the beers into their open throats. He gave a very loud yell and followed with bloody swearings.
Our beer presents had already full up their heads and our happy singings had grabbed their hearts. Man, man, em gutpela pasin moa ya! Everybody was having a good time, and the only thing that spoiled the happiness was that there was not the woman in the bar to make it more happier. Beier 69—70 This passage manages to adhere very subtly to the rhythms of the vernacular voice. But the syntactic influence comes from both Melane- sian tok pisin and the syntactic tendencies in Papua New Guinean vernacular languages. The linguistic adaptation signifies both the difference and the tension of difference, for it is out of this tension that much of the political energy of the cross-cultural text is generated. This same tension is also emphasized in the passage above by the inclusion of direct pidgin transcription.
The literature of the Caribbean continuum provides the widest range of possibilities of syntactic variation. Walcott 10 The adaptation of vernacular syntax to standard orthography makes the rhythm and texture of vernacular speech more accessible. What going to happen is one of these days the white man going to realize that the black man have it cushy, being as he got the whole day to do what he like, hustle pussy or visit the museums and the histor- ical buildings, what remain open to facilitate him yet another boon and close-up the moment that he, the white man, left work. Selvon 15 Disentangling the interweaving ironies of this novel is a fascinating process, but the entanglement itself is focused in the language, which constantly dismantles the aspirations and values of Moses himself.
Memory is pricking at me mind, and restlessness is a-ride me soul. I scent many things in the night-wind; night-wind is a-talk of days what pass and gone. You know they will sing all night tonight so till east wind brings the morning? Torch-light and long-time hymns, and memory a-knock at my mind. Its purpose is not verisimilitude, but rhythmic fidelity, for the poetic mode in any speech is a constituted dimension. This form of syntactic fusion is more than purely linguistic, for it includes the ranges of allusion, the nature of the imagery, and the metaphoric orientation of the language of an oppressed people deeply immersed in biblical discourse.
One very specific form of syntactic fusion is the development of neologisms in the post-colonial text. Successful neologisms in the eng- lish text emphasize the fact that words do not embody cultural essence, for where the creation of new lexical forms in english may be gener- ated by the linguistic structures of the mother tongue, their success lies in their function within the text rather than their linguistic provenance.
But as we saw above, what makes a characteristically Indian, Australian, or Trinida- dian english is not the embodiment of some kind of cultural essence, but the use of language in a particular place and time. Colloquial neologisms are a particularly important example of the metonymic function of all post-colonial literature. Code-switching and vernacular transcription Perhaps the most common method of inscribing alterity by the process of appropriation is the technique of switching between two or more codes, particularly in the literatures of the Caribbean continuum.
The techniques employed by the polydialectical writer include variable orthography to make dialect more accessible, double glossing and code-switching to act as an interweaving interpretative mode, and the selection of certain words which remain untranslated in the text. All these are common ways of installing cultural distinctiveness in the writing. I know some people does feel sleepy the moment they see a bed. But listen, girl. A man may turn over half a library to make one book. For however much she complained and however much she reviled him, she never ceased to marvel at this husband of hers who read pages of print, chapters of print, why, whole big books; this husband who, awake in bed at nights, spoke, as though it were nothing, of one day writing a book of his own and having it printed!
Sarah knew that Mrs Mason may have heard but could not possibly have seen them, since only by coming out into the yard could she have done that. She therefore guessed that the lady was setting a trap for her. An interesting feature of some monoglossic literatures is the import- ance of the transcription of dialect forms or radical variants informed in one way or another by a mother tongue or by the exigencies of transplantation. The Australian novelist Joseph Furphy, writing at the turn of the century, demonstrates a brilliant use of the strategy of code- switching. In his novel Such Is Life , the function of variant tran- scription is still metonymic, but the aggregation of so many variants in his novel operates to give the sense of the language itself in the process of change.
Thus at a very early stage it interrogates the emerging culturally monist myths of national identity in terms of a language use which foregrounds the hybridized nature of any post-colonial society. Let us begin with those men of whom you Victorians are so justly proud — Burke and Wills. It is a discourse of the monumental, the patri- archal, and the political which converts itself very easily into an officially sanctioned nationalism. This linguistic multiplicity outlines both the com- plexity of the society and the complexity of a language in the process of formation. Variance in this novel is a signifier of a radical Otherness, not just as a construct which continually reinserts the gap of silence, but as a process which relentlessly foregrounds variance and marginal- ity as the norm.
In settler cultures, even more than in most post-colonial societies, abrogation will almost certainly not be total within the speaking com- munity. In the literature this division works on behalf of the literary text in english to signify difference, but it also indicates the very com- plex dynamic of appropriation in these cultures. Code- switching is thus only one strategy of that widespread, though often undetected, linguistic variance in monoglossic literatures, which belies the apparent uniformity of the language. But such strategies involve much more than the develop- ment of a new tool. They enable the construction of a distinctive social world.
Some of the clearer examples of switching between codes occurs in texts which directly transcribe pidgin and Creole forms. But class in the post- colonial text is a category occasioned by more than an economic struc- ture; it is a discourse traversed by potent racial and cultural signifiers. But in texts which use pidgin the dichotomy is not so hidden. The pidgin forms which have been inherited from British occupation ostensibly perform the same function as they performed in colonial times: to provide a serviceable bridge between speakers of different languages in everyday life.
But in the literature written by English-speakers who are ipso facto members of a higher class pidgin and Creole do not indicate the communica- tion between people of different regions because the varieties of standard English perform this function for members of the educated class so much as a communication between classes. In this way the post-colonial text evinces the inheritance of the political as well as the linguistic reality of pidgin and Creole as it functioned in colonial times. Pidgin was inevitably used in the context of master—servant relation- ships during the period of European colonization. So the social and economic hierarchies produced by colonialism have been retained in post-colonial society through the medium of language.
Of course, pidgin remains a dominant mode of discourse among all non-English- speakers wherever it exists, but its role in most literature, except that of the polydialectical communities of the Caribbean, is both to install class difference and to signify its presence. Amamu sat in the living room, not exactly sober, and not exactly drunk. Yaro came in reeking of his own sweat and muddy. He had been arranging his flower pots. His master had called him thrice.
Yes sah, masa. You no finish for outside? No sah. Finish quick and come clean for inside. We get party tonight. Big people dey come. Clean for all de glass, plate, fork, spoon, knife every- thing. You hear? Yes sah. Yaro shuffled off on silent feet. Strategies of appropriation are numerous and vary widely in post- colonial literatures, but they are the most powerful and ubiquitous way in which English is transformed by formerly colonized writers. In this way post-colonial writers have contributed to the transformation of English literature and to the dismantling of those ideological assumptions that have buttressed the canon of that literature as an elite Western discourse. But it is not only the use of language which has achieved this dismantling.
As we see in the next chapter, post-colonial texts offer a radical questioning of the cultural and philosophical assumptions of canonical discourse. But the appropriation which has had the most pro- found significance in post-colonial discourse is that of writing itself. It is through an appropriation of the power invested in writing that this discourse can take hold of the marginality imposed on it and make hybridity and syncreticity the source of literary and cultural redefinition. The revolutionary insight of this book is its location of the key feature of colonial oppression in the control over the means of communication rather than the control over life and property or even language itself.
The problem for Aztec oral culture, based as it was on a ritual and cyclic interpretation of reality, was that there was simply no place in its scheme of things for the unpredicted arrival of Cortez. Aztec com- munication is between man and the world, because knowledge always proceeds from a reality which is already fixed, ordered, and given. The principle which Todorov sees as central, the control of the means of communication, is the empowering factor in any colonial enterprise. The intrusion of the colonizer is not always attended by the confusion which gripped the Aztecs, but control is always manifested by the imposed authority of a system of writing, whether writing already exists in the colonized culture or not.
The only explanation was that they were gods, in which case opposition would be futile. This reac- tion to the radical incursion of the Other is paradigmatic for the incursion of the written word into the oral world. What Cortez wants from the first is not to capture but to comprehend; it is signs which chiefly interest him, not their referents. The role of the first interpreter in the colonial contact is a pro- foundly ambiguous one. The ambivalent interpretative role and the significance of the interpretative site forms one of the major foci of the processes of abrogation and appropriation. The interpreter always emerges from the dominated discourse.
The role entails radically div- ided objectives: it functions to acquire the power of the new language and culture in order to preserve the old, even whilst it assists the invaders in their overwhelming of that culture. In that divided moment the interpreter discovers the impossibility of living completely through either discourse. The intersection of these two discourses on which the interpreter balances constitutes a site both exhilarating and disturbing. The role of the interpreter is like that of the post-colonial writer, caught in the conflict between destruction and creativity.
As the Nigerian Chinua Achebe puts it: We lived at the cross-roads of cultures. We still do today, but when I was a boy, one could see and sense the peculiar quality and atmos- phere of it more clearly. But still the cross-roads does have a certain dangerous potency; dangerous because a man might perish there wrestling with multiple-headed spirits, but also he might be lucky and return to his people with the boon of prophetic vision. Achebe 67 This transitional moment is the most difficult to describe.
His every action is designed to control what others can know about him, for instance, he takes care to bury horses killed in battles to maintain the impression that they are supernatural. Thus Cortez controls the parameters of the discourse in which he and Mon- tezuma are situated. The issue here is not the domination of one lan- guage over another but of one form of communication over another, and specifically of writing over orality. One characteristic of the world-views of oral cultures is the assumption that words, uttered under appropriate circumstances have the power to bring into being the events or states they stand for, to embody rather than represent reality. This conviction that the word can create its object leads to a sense that language possesses power over truth and reality.
Thus literacy leads to the development of historic conscious- ness. It allows scrutiny of a fixed past. Though, of course, we need to note that history as an institution is itself under the control of determinate cultural and ideological forces which may seek to propose the specific practice of history as neutral and objective. In this respect his argument is in line with the ideas implicit in Todorov about the vulnerability of oral societies to the intrusion of literacy controlled as it is by the imperial power.
The presence or absence of writing is possibly the most important element in the colonial situation. Writing does not merely introduce a communicative instrument, but also involves an entirely different and intrusive invasive orientation to knowledge and interpretation. In many post-colonial societies, it was not the English language which had the greatest effect, but writing itself. The seizing of the means of communication and the liberation of post- colonial writing by the appropriation of the written word become crucial features of the process of self-assertion and of the ability to reconstruct the world as an unfolding historical process. The Spanish conquest of Central America was the model for all colonialist enterprises to follow.
Imperial conquest has always des- troyed the land and often regarded the human occupants as disposable, almost as if they were a species of exotic fauna. But the conquerors themselves, the present controllers of the means of communication, those who have subjugated or annihilated the original occupants could not feel at home in the place colonized. Out of this sense of displace- ment emerges the discourse of place which informs the post-colonial condition. It is not always possible to separate theory and practice in post-colonial literature. As the works of Wilson Harris, Wole Soyinka, and Edward Brathwaite demonstrate, creative writers have often offered the most perceptive and influential account of the post-colonial condition. Accordingly, the analysis and exegesis of a specific text may be one of the most crucial ways of determining the major theoretical and critical issues at stake.
As a result, readings of individual texts may enable us to isolate and identify significant theoretical shifts in the development of post-colonial writing. The symptomatic readings of texts which follow serve to illustrate three important features of all post-colonial writing. The silencing and marginalizing of the post-colonial voice by the imperial centre; the abrogation of this imperial centre within the text; and the active appropriation of the language and culture of that centre. These features and the transitions between them are expressed in various ways in the different texts, sometimes through formal subversions and sometimes through contestation at the thematic level.
In all cases, however, the notions of power inherent in the model of centre and margin are appropriated and so dismantled. In this sense, it is a society caught between two phases, manifesting the dynamic of colonial domination but producing both white and Black writers whose engagement with the processes of abrogation and appropriation is part of a continuing struggle for survival. South Afri- can writing clearly demonstrates the fact that the political impetus of the post-colonial begins well before the moment of independence. This silence is literally and dramatically revealed in the censorship exercised by the government over newspapers, journals, and much creative writing. It has two aspects: there is the literal silencing which will not permit the freedom necessary to appropriate language, and there is the further silence which necessarily precedes the act of appropriation.
Even those post-colonial writers with the literal freedom to speak find themselves languageless, gagged by the imposition of English on their world. Paradoxically, in order to develop a voice they must first fall silent see Stow ; Lee Because the control of the means of communi- cation is so pronounced in South Africa, it provides one of the clearest and most extreme examples of how the political condition of colon- ized people is bound up with language. In effect, all writing in South Africa is by definition a form of protest or a form of acquiescence. Which it is depends on how it situates itself within the political realities of the daily struggle against apartheid. Coetzee, etc. But, since all writing in South Africa has obvious and immediate political con- sequences, it must explicitly engage in resistance to the oppressive regime in order fully to avoid acquiesence.
While situating itself within the discourse of resistance and abrogation, it provides a penetrating example of the silence into which the colon- ized consciousness is driven by the cultural conditions of South Africa and by the state control over the means of communication. The novel ostensibly describes the ordeal of a Black South African gaoled and executed for the rape of a white woman. Significantly, the prejudice concerning the danger of knowledge is articulated by the prison commandant. His fear is well founded. As in all post-colonial societies the word leads to knowledge, which provokes questioning, which generates change.
The corpus of post-colonial literature is replete with examples of the fear that the dominated will gain knowledge and hence, power. The prison commandant is quite certain that the natives, left to their tribal environment, were all right, their morals were even superior to those of some whites, but given a smattering of education, they became spoiled and thought of themselves as the equal of white men. He concluded by citing as an example the rapid increase of incidents of assault on white women. This, Van Rooyen said, was the necessary and tragic consequence of the ill-conceived projects of social uplift, which the liberals fondly hoped would transform the natives into something like white men. Learning, with its necessary initiation into the mystic processes of writing, is an assumption of the power to dominate.
Ironically, this assumption is shared by the colonizer and the colonized and lies firmly behind the efforts of the mother to send the boy to the white school: No doubt, she was convinced that an encounter, however brief, with books, would confer upon her offspring awesome powers of the occult, an almost miraculous ability to manipulate the universe at will. But in Mating Birds the outcome is ambiguous. She is first discovered on the beach lying provocatively within feet of the boundary which separates the white and non-white sections of the beach.
After the first encounter, Ndi goes to the beach day after day obsessed with the vision of possible attainment. But the most signifi- cant feature of this developing relationship between the seductive woman and the obsessed Black man is that it is conducted entirely in silence. The communication by signs continues even to the point at which the two people engage in a simultaneous orgasm, conducted entirely in silence and separated by the gulf of the barrier indicated by the beach sign itself. The grounding of this relationship in silence is crucial in the metaphoric architecture of the story. It occurs in a space committed neither to speech nor writing, but which deludes the Black man into a vision of dominance.
One day he follows the woman to her home where she disrobes in front of her open door in apparent invita- tion. At the moment of ultimate sexual union her sudden screams attract a passerby and Ndi is overpowered; the approach to power the penetration into the world of written signs embodied in the white woman has revealed itself as illusory. Significantly, the writer makes no attempt to explain the motives of the woman.
It captures that profound silence between cultures which finally cannot be traversed by understanding. The line drawn down the beach signifies the plane of meeting between the two cultures, and at this line no meeting takes place, only silence. Ndi is forced into silence by the culture which controls the signs in both a literal and a linguistic sense. The interrela- tion between the desire to enter the literate world and the rape of the woman is significant. Both the phallus and the pen are instruments of domination. Though not conferring the awesome powers of the occult, as his mother would believe, the pen would seem to confer the powers of the culture which controls the written word. But the issue is not so simple. What confers power, as Cortez knew, is not the possession of the means of communication, but their control.
Although the two separated individuals seem to communicate quite successfully with the language of the body, even to the point of reaching simul- taneous orgasm without touching, this is merely the illusion of communication, as Ndi discovers to his cost. Silence has deceived him. Although Mating Birds demonstrates the catastrophic meeting of the oral and literate worlds, this is only a specific instance of the broader post-colonial experience. What characterizes this experience in any cultural setting is not simply the history of colonial oppression or the intersection of languages, but the struggle for control of the word.
And this is a struggle which, ironically, the older and stronger metropolitan order cannot finally win because writing, once seized, retains the seeds of self-regeneration and the power to create and recreate the world. It is at this moment that English becomes english. This privil- eging of particular types of experience denies access to the world for the writer subject to a dominating colonial culture. The result is that the post-colonial writer is consigned to a world of mimicry and imitation, since he is forced to write about material which lies at one remove from the significant experiences of the post-colonial world.
The Trinidadian writer V. Naipaul examines the dilemma of the post-colonial writer in many of his works, but particularly in The Mimic Men Since Naipaul has a pessimistic view of the possibility of escape from this situation, he views the mimicry implicit in the post- colonial condition and, hence, its literary text, as permanently disabl- ing, because of the disorder and inauthenticity imposed by the centre on the margins of empire.
The polarity is repeated in the book in an aggregation of opposites: order and disorder, authenticity and inauthenticity, reality and unreality, power and impotence, even being and nothingness. To be born on an island like Isabella, an obscure New World trans- plantation, second-hand and barbarous, was to be born to disorder. Now I was to discover that disorder has its own logic and permanence. Such physical and metaphoric weight — the weight of the crown and the weight of the empire — demands and legitimizes power. Such weight represents order as well as power, since order is the essence of imperial authority. On the other hand the disorder of the peripheral corresponds to a fundamental lack of power: We lack order.
Above all, we lack power, and we do not understand that we lack power. We mistake words and the acclamation of words for power; as soon as our bluff is called we are lost. To the colonial politician, no matter what rhetoric may win him votes, both the language and the economic structure of the society he vainly hopes to change are controlled from outside. Language is power because words construct reality. The assumption by the powerless is that words are the signifiers of a pre-given reality, a reality and a truth which is only located at the centre.
We, here on our island, handling books printed in this world, and using its goods, had been abandoned and forgotten. We pretended to be real, to be learning, to be preparing ourselves for life, we mimic men of the New World. Since the truth lies elsewhere, language can only mimic the representa- tion of the truth. This has its own profoundly ontological ramifications for the inhabitant of the margins: Coming to London, the great city, seeking order, seeking the flowering, the extension of myself that ought to have come in a city of such miraculous light, I had tried to hasten a process which had seemed elusive.
I had tried to give myself a personality. The writer has detected the very tension which keeps the centre at the centre. This geometry of colonialism operates through the constant imposition of the feeling of disorder, placelessness, and unreality. For those who lose the game of politics at the margins, and nearly everybody loses, there is only one course: flight. Flight to the greater disorder, the final emptiness: London and the home counties. The centre of order is the ultimate disorder.
There is no centre of reality just as there is no pre-given unmediated reality. If language constructs the world then the margins are the centre and may reconstruct it according to a different pattern of conventions, expectations, and experiences. The result is a curious ambivalence when the novel considers the authenticity of the margins. Yet such an ambivalence is by no means disabling, for it provides the tension out of which emerges a rich and incisive reconstruction of post-colonial experience.
But it questions these in an indirect way by demonstrating the manner in which a dominant discourse circumscribes the expression of self and place in the post-colonial world. The text as a whole is a sign of this appropriation. For example, the story refuses to establish a single centring consciousness for more than three paragraphs. Mr Blades, the teacher, is the subject of the opening.
This process involves the emergence of the possibility of conceiving oneself as a subject. This is achieved not within the story as narrated sequence, but in its existence and its condition as completed product. The features and events of the text need to be read metonymically rather than metaphorically for the full significance of the text as symptom to be so reproduced. Within the text, Sandra Street itself is described in a number of ways. But the significant description is a negative one. Sandra Street was so different from the other streets beyond. Indeed it came from the very quiet fringes and ran straight to the forests. Nor did the steel-band gently humming from the other side of the town. I had to remember the steel band because although I liked to hear it I had to put into my composition that it was very bad.
We had no steel bands in Sandra Street, and I thought I could say that this was because we were decent, cultured folk, and did not like the horrible noises of steel bands. Thus the story is not a simple allegory of colony and metropolis. In fact, the assignment of value is only a feature of the process being examined, not its purpose. A structure of privileging distinctions has been imported into this dis- course as the means by which any experience is to be understood. This enforces the dividing and denigrating conditionality of the imperial mode even within the expression of the individual post-colonial experience. Did you speak of the river? Did you notice the hills?
You live in Sandra Street, yet Kenneth writes a composition on your own place better than you. It was to his purpose. He comes from the other side of town. High walls cramping the imagin- ation? The milling crowd with faces impersonal as stone, hurrying on buses, hurrying off trams? Could he write about that? Place an order on our website is very easy and will only take a few minutes of your time. Fill the order form with your assignment instructions ensuring all important information about your order is included.
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