dialect & language in midnight robber

Wow, as the end-of-year-tiredness sets in, I keep on forgetting to do these...sorry about that...anyway, I was in the second group of presenters on Wednesday, and I was the one who talked about dialect and the use of language in the novel.

One of the first things that I noticed while preparing my topic were the correlations drawn between the colonization of Toussaint, the impregnation of a woman, and planting fertile soil. I used two quotes, one from the very beginning of the novel about the arrival of Granny Nanny on the already-inhabited planet: "...like God entering he woman; plunging into the womb of soil to impregnate the plant with the seed of Granny Nanny"(pp.2) and another in which Tan-Tan is explaining her pregnancy: "[My father] rape me...He put this baby in me...He was forever trying to plant me, like I was his soil to harvest"(pp.260)

What I noticed at first is that both images seem to allude to rape, especially since the woman (or female-gendered entity, in the case of the land) is treated as an object to be possessed, such as when God enters "he" woman, meaning "his". However, I'm aware that this can sound like a sexist assumption against men; particularly since God is the one doing the impregnating in the first instance. But, when we're talking about colonization, we are talking about something forced. I didn't get to bring this up in class, but one could argue that organized religion is more of an oppressive force than a compassionate representation of God.
I think that exploring possible rape is an important part of recognizing the struggles of women in a colonized society; but even more interesting are the references to planting, which suggests a positive, life-giving force connected to the rape. This positive light would make more sense if the colonization and/or sexual acts occurred with mutual consent, but clearly that isn't the case. Perhaps this alludes to the fact that natives of the Caribbean were considered "savages" and told by colonists that their subjugation to "civilized" society was "for their own good" and meant to help them grow or evolve? I think this sounds plausible.

It didn't get much of a response in class, but I was also intrigued by the stream-of-consciousness, almost hip-hop-like language used by the Robber King that Tan-Tan and her mother run into. What is a reader supposed to take from a sentence like "I wrestle the warptenned flying shit from the ensorcelled dungmaster, the master plan blaster in his silver-fendered stratocaster with wings of phoenix flame..." (pp.56). At first I was completely confused; what do Stratocasters and phoenixes have to do with anything? The narration explains that these speeches were always re-told stories about escaping the horrors of slavery and surviving after their land had been colonized. In other words, it is like a dialect within a dialect; a way of remembering their struggles that their colonizers will not understand and therefore cannot condemn.
This extremely high level of adaptability is fascinating; when a group of people (by extension this is probably referring to blacks in America) are colonized, enslaved or taken over, they merely mix parts of the conquering culture with their own and continue as before...they are not broken.