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something new as opposed to exposing some sort of conflict between previous colonizers and people of African descent. Walcott was castigated for not purely being against western influences and staying true to Negritude, like contemporary Caribbean islanders. To summarize his belief on the issue, Walcott bravely states, “There is too much emphasis on the African culture in the Caribbean, and there should be much more respect paid to the Indian and Chinese cultures in terms of color and origin. We should mix the African philosophy and culture with the Indian. It is the mixture of cultures that is the essence of the Caribbean” (Cabrera). This blended concoction of cultures and struggle for Jamaica’s own sense of identity is evident in The Children of Sisyphus first published in 1965. This is mainly the story of a poverty stricken prostitute, Dinah, who lives in the Dungle, a trash riddled ghetto in depths of Kingston, Jamaica. She momentarily settles there with a man whom she reluctantly loves despite the fact that he has forced her to sell her body as a means of providing income for them and their young son. She leaves this “uncivilized” lifestyle with a middle class man in search of a more stable state of being where she doesn’t have to scrap with her peers for uncontaminated food and a warm place to sleep. One way that the conflict between colonial and African cultural influence plays out in the novel is in terms of religion. Patterson conveys his perception of the lives of the urban destitutes by exploring two routes of survival in Pentecostalism and Rastafarianism. The author of “Vision in Orlando Patterson’s The Children of Sisyphus” Julia Udofia, elaborates on this by stating that “Rastafarianism is a messianic/millenarian cult based on selective religious beliefs that are of Afro- Christian fusion” (80-81). Rastafarians derive their beliefs from Marcus Garvey’s prediction of black redemption through the crowned Ethiopian ruler in Africa, Haile Selassie I or Rastafari. They also rely heavily on Garvey’s belief that all blacks in the diaspora should regroup back in Africa. Their theory and religion advocates an absolute belief in Haile Selassie I as the embodiment of the living cult. As Udofia explains, “The adherents also believe in peace and love to all men, especially, black men and disapprove of hate, jealousy, envy and deceit. However, Rastas generally have a public image of violence, criminality and other anti-social acts. They constitute a separatist group and are often also characterized as lazy, dirty and lawless people who use religion to mask their aversion to work and bad habits” (81). Within Patterson’s novel, Dinah’s perspective leads us down a different path, yet just as stubborn a conviction. Also belonging to the impoverished base of this societal pecking order, Dinah expresses her state of ambition. It drives her. She thrives on it, and thus uses her self-motivation and discernment as a catalyst to move out of the Dungle in search for a more privileged lifestyle, one that she believes she deserves, despite what society has told her. This attitude undoubtedly represents the undying search for something better, something more, and it certainly symbolizes the segment of the Jamaican identity that invokes a sense of middleclass conformity, yet struggles with futile attempts to repress its roots. Though a part of our identity wants to be preserved, the tempting appeal of something more is hard to resist as the consequences are blurred, and the rewards appear more blatantly in our perspective. In our identity’s progress we concluded that we would strive for knowledge with the hope and intent of not forgetting our past. As Patterson intricately weaves biblical references throughout the text, he subtly alludes to the image of Eve and the forbidden fruit, putting a politically antiimperialist spin on the religious allusion. The representation of forbidden knowledge coupled with the colonial era resonates through the innate subservience of the contemporary black person in the novel, despite blatantly seeking independence and equality. This is apparent when Dinah takes up a job in an upper-class household for, the narrator states, “She not only hated Mrs. Watkins, she was afraid of her. And because she was afraid of her, she had to obey her. It was incredible, this paradox that perplexed her soul” (130). The focal point of my argument, regarding the Negritude movement, opposes exclusively embodying Afro-centric dispositions. This is due to the fact that the foundation and catalytic premise behind the Negritude crusade is essentially based on eradicating the effects that the colonizers’ rule had on a culture, and then completely reverting back to pre-colonial ideals. Via the Rastafarian religion, Patterson expresses evidence of this utter rejection of every utmost conceptual idea, be it cultural or industrial, which was carried over from the west. In the novel he refers to a civil disagreement between two men of the Rastafarian faith, Brother Emmanuel and Brother Brisco. The former represents the more tenable opinion that, though the “white-man” is ELF 2015 (Vol. 6) 16


English Literary File_Vol 6
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