Identity – The Influences It Has On Character Development

1561 words - 6 pages

The word identity can take on many meanings; individuality, characteristics and uniqueness are just a few. The knowing of ones identity is crucial when developing character. Without this, there is no purpose. For that reason, this essay will show similarities between the novel The Dragon Can’t Dance and the poem Obeah Man. In both literary creations, characters feel entrapped in societal circumstances. This leads to an outlet being the identities of imaginary aspects of Trinidadian culture; these beliefs only diminish when realities become apparent, causing identity to change in order to handle new circumstances.Using an evaluation of political circumstances in Trinidadian society, we see why characters of both the novel The Dragon Can’t Dance and the poem Obeah Man seek identity as an outlet. During the time this novel takes place, the National Joint Action Committee (NJAC) came to Trinidad (Country Studies, 2005). In this political party, members sought fundamental change (Country Studies, 2005). Fisheye demonstrates this attitude in the novel when he says “Fight. Fight the people that keeping us down. Take over the government” (Lovelace, 74). People with this outlook had their first opportunity with a political crisis that began on February 26th, 1970 (Country Studies, 2005). The NJAC joined a student association at UWI (University of the West Indies) in a march of 250 students protesting a trial in Canada of Trinidadian students accused of occupying a computer centre (Country Studies, 2005). In this protest, nine marchers were arrested; this generated solidarity and increased the number of marchers to 20,000, nearly toppling the Trinidadian government (Country Studies, 2005).In addition, when evaluating Trinidadian economic circumstances, we see the same effect on the characters. During the time of the novel, crude oil prices dropped, this lead to the accumulation of foreign debt in turn causing widespread unemployment and labour unrest (BBC News, 2005). From 1962-1965, the Oilfield Workers Trade Union (OWTU) became increasingly radicalized (Country Studies, 2005) which demonstrates the attitude of Yvonne in the novel The Dragon Can’t Dance, she tells Fisheye to “fight the government” (Lovelace, 73).The political and economic circumstances in Trinidad fuelled the social situation that would erupt in the following years. This becomes clear in the poem Obeah Man, Roi Kwabena speaks of the injustices happening in society The novel The Dragon Can’t Dance addresses this topic when Aldrick says, “Make no peace with slavery, make no peace, for you have survived. You are here filling up shanty towns, prisons, slums, street corners, mental asylums, brothels, hospitals… We have to rise… But how do you rise up when your brothers are making peace for a few dollars? When sisters selling their souls, and mothers and fathers selling their children. How can you rise with rent to pay and children to...

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