Sunday, January 31, 2010

Carpentier: La Segunda Mitad

After reading the second half of this book I now see much more of the importance of "lo real maravilloso" in El Reino De Este Mundo. The time Carpentier took in the prologue to discuss the magical aspects that appear in life in Haiti, as well as in this book, finally makes sense. As opposed to the first half of the text in which I recognized only a few instances of magical realism, the second half seems much more full of "lo real maravilloso". Perhaps that is because I've become accustomed to Carpentier's writing style and can understand more of the subtleties in the picture he paints of the history of Haiti.

Nevertheless I still had a hard time following the sequence of actions in the second half, as well as the ways in which all the characters are connected. The way time and events are ordered didn't seem to run linearly, and what actually happened in the text didn't make sense to me until the final two chapters. I think the fact that Ti Noel is nearly always present definitely added to my confusion of not knowing the location or the point in time in which things were happening. I will also put it out there that I'm confused about Paulina's role and importance as well as Soliman's.

I found Ti Noel's sentiments at the end made for a clarifying and insightful conclusion. Ti Noel's ability to transform into other beings reflects the lasting significance of Mackandal's legacy in the struggle for equality for los negros. On page 145 Carpentier writes that no one, not even Mackandal or Ti Noel, had predicted the authoritarian grab for power of Henri Christophe or of the Mulattos. While Ti Noel is dejected in regards to how politics have played themselves out in the newly independent nation, he has gained a lot of wisdom about what influences the ways in which people operate. Specifically, he recognizes that humans work and struggle for themsleves and others, always trying to better their situation (152). To me these words are inspiring, given all that Ti Noel has witnessed and experienced in the time of transition in Haiti.

Just to touch on the context of contemporary Haiti, it is evident that the political turmoil that is described by Carpentier still exists. From what I know, there have been very few years in which the government of Haiti has allowed its people freedoms and access to basic human rights such as education and health care. Moreover, the international community continues to view and treat Haiti as a black colony in many ways, especially by continuing to interfere in the true sovereignty that Haiti still seeks.

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