“My Name Is Nobody”: Postmodernism In Derek Walcott’s “The Schooner Flight”

1728 words - 7 pages

Tales of journeys appear repeatedly throughout the expanse of literature; these sagas include the stories of Gilgamesh, King Arthur, and, more recently, The Lord of the Rings. Derek Walcott’s poem “The Schooner Flight” initially seems out of place amongst these surging legends of heroics and danger, yet through closer examination the poem flourishes as a postmodern retelling then deconstruction of the age-old heroic journey. The poem is a celebration of Greek mythology, a disruptive force against established binaries, and a question of what constitutes identity. The construction of the poem represents a contradiction, as it is a Homeric pastiche yet it defies the very nature of the customary heroic journey. However, this contradiction is in fact imperative to the understanding of identity within “The Schooner Flight”. Derek Walcott’s poem embodies postmodern techniques by composing a transient narrative that constructs a homage to the epic journey then simultaneously ruptures it to reveal disruption of the grand narrative and of the composition of identity.
Homer’s Odyssey and Walcott’s “The Schooner Flight” show striking similarities, and as Walcott’s poem is a postmodern piece, these similarities can be credited to the postmodern method of pastiche, which is “like parody, the imitation of a peculiar mask, speech in a dead language: but it is a neutral practice of such mimicry, without any of parody's ulterior motives, amputated of the satiric impulse” (Rose 18). In “The Schooner Flight”, the speaker, Shabine, states, “either I’m nobody, or I’m a nation” (Walcott 43). This statement refers to a moment in the Odyssey when Odysseus uses a pseudonym to trick the Cyclops, claiming, “My name is Nobody” (Homer 486). These parallel statements show the similarity between Shabine and Odysseus and illustrate Walcott’s borrowing of the hero motif from the Odyssey. The character of Maria Concepcion in “The Schooner Flight” is an imitation of the femme fatale motif of the Siren’s in the Odyssey. The siren image is echoed as Shabine sneaks away from Maria’s “dreamless face” (Walcott 4) in the early morning and hopes the neighbor does not wake Maria as she “don’t sleep hard” (13-14). Shabine’s attempt to escape without notice is similar to Odysseus’s attempts to avoid being entranced by the Sirens’ singing and meeting certain death. Shabine states that “Maria Concepcion was all my thought” (44), as she encompasses his mind like the Siren’s singing did to Odysseus (Homer 248-249). Walcott’s use of pastiche of the style and tropes of the Odyssey should presumably position Shabine as the hero in the poem, yet his heroic position is ultimately subverted through a postmodern upheaval of the grand heroic narrative.
At the same time the poem establishes a pastiche of the Odyssey, “The Schooner Flight” actually disrupts the grand narrative to focus on a more fragmented view. A main theme in the Odyssey, a theme common to many tales of heroic journeys, is nostos,...

Find Another Essay On “My Name is Nobody”: Postmodernism in Derek Walcott’s “The Schooner Flight”

Postmodernism: The Movement in Life Essay

1419 words - 6 pages it an organized movement; because of this fact no one is able to say when it ended or when it will end. Jean-François Lyotard famously described postmodernism as “incredulity toward metanarratives” (xiv). This quote requires a bit of explanation in order to make it comprehensible. Incredulity means the quality or state of being incredulous or disbelief and metanarrative can be defined as “… totalizing, all-encompassing (meta) stories

Who Wears the Pants in “Nobody Knows”

987 words - 4 pages Sally Adair Rigsbee says that in the story “Nobody Knows” George Willard “takes advantage of the subordinate position of Louise Trunnion...” (Sally Adair Rigsbee, 184) Yet, I do not believe this is the case and I view the story to show almost the exact opposite. To me, “Nobody Knows” is a story about reversed gender roles in losing one's virginity disguised as a story with traditional gender roles in having sex. It is a trap constructed by

Analysis of the Sea is History by Derek Walcott

1601 words - 6 pages poet and playwright Derek Walcott developed a burning passion for writing as a young man. His family descended from a line of slaves in the West Indies, and the legacy of slavery is a common theme threaded throughout his work. Both mother and father were schoolteachers and strongly supported Walcott’s love of reading. In the poem “Midsummer” he wrote: “Forty years gone, in my island childhood, I felt that the gift of poetry had made me one of the

Hello, My Name is Orson Welles

1609 words - 6 pages Hello, My Name IsOrson Welles Orson Welles liked to reuse certain elements throughout his films. He liked a good deep focus shot. He liked low key lighting. He liked the grotesque side of life, blocking actors in groups of three, low camera angles and especially pointy bras. He also liked to open his movies in a certain predictable way. In Citizen Kane, he used the announcer in 'News on the March' to introduce the subject and main

My Name is Not Easy: Part II

937 words - 4 pages fighting, they mainly fought over land and those battles were always bloody. An example of the love in the film clip is when the father of Pocahontas was about to hit John Smith with his stick and Pocahontas jumped on John Smith to block from the blow of the stick (Gabriel, 1995). Mike immediately cut to Pocahontas's reaction shot so the audience could see her reaction. This humanized her because her reaction was very sad and mad at the same

What is in a Name

1041 words - 5 pages Summers being the official of the lottery is the key player for organizing and carrying out the traditions of the lottery. The name that Jackson gave to the official assists in bringing clarity to the time of year in which the lottery takes place. Jay Yarmove suggests that Mr. Summer’s attire of “clean white shirt and blue jeans” was used by Jackson to signify that the era was set in the twentieth century (242). Summers’ character was also

Postmodernism Movement in “The 400 Pound CEO”

782 words - 4 pages Postmodernism movement started in the 1960’s, carrying on until present. James Morley defined the postmodernism movement as “a rejection of the sovereign autonomous individual with an emphasis upon anarchic collective anonymous experience.” In other words, postmodernism rejects what has been established and makes emphasis on combined revolutionary experiences. Postmodernism can be said it is the "derivate" of modernism; it follows most of the

Postmodernism in Pink Floyd The Wall

2289 words - 9 pages constant terror of failure and utter disappointment. As Alan Parker surprisingly describes, ‘’On reflection, Pink Floyd The Wall was the most miserable time I ever had making a film. It’s a scream of pain from beginning to end. But sometimes out of conflict comes interesting work. I never had the advantage of going to film school, so this is probably my student film – the most expensive student film in history. In a way, it’s an experiment in cinematic

I heard the owl call my name

1028 words - 4 pages to grow over time. The Kwakiutl children don't understand the lives of their elders for the same reason that today's youth can't grasp how their elders lived without the technology we now possess. The elders find change rough while the young find change exciting. The book shows how change is becoming more frequent as time goes by for the indians, and they know in a short time the tribe ways will be extinct. It is inevitable for things to change and generations to evolve, and that is shown in I Heard The Owl Call My Name.

The Streets Still Call My Name

645 words - 3 pages card companies, but most importantly from loan sharks. That night I looked into my mother’s eyes and learned what fear truly is. My father, a most vicarious and desolate man, developed a gambling addiction at the age of 13 and began smoking at the age of 10. Due to my father’s compulsion, my family lives a life in the shadows. Forced to adopt a new identity, I had been pigeonholed by the social shame of being homeless, a fact that I never wanted to

I Heard The Wolf Call My Name

1087 words - 4 pages Fairy tales are a convenient medium for the transmission of ideal standards of behavior, and are considered effective tools in the socialization process. However, effective is not synonymous with appropriate, and although the use of fairy tales seem harmless, the underlying themes can have undesirable effects on the population's psyche. Fairy tales are full of anxiety and tragedy that seems to plague young girls, which therefore creates a

Similar Essays

The Struggle In Chaim Potok's My Name Is Asher Lev

2406 words - 10 pages his artistic ability, when his father refuses to recognize his talent. Set in a tightly knitted Jewish community in Brooklyn, Chaim Potok successfully depicted a young boy torn between his orthodox Jewish tradition and his passion for art in his best seller My Name is Asher Lev. Asher Lev knew from a young age that he was destined to draw. Unfortunately, his friends and family simply discarded his gift as foolishness or mere childishness. His

My Name Is Bucepahlus Essay

1748 words - 7 pages hearing Philip say to his son, a look of slight humiliation on his visage, “Go, and find yourself another kingdom, that is truly worthy of you! Macedonia is far too small!” I wish I could have spent more time with him. But he was always with his nurse, Lannice and teacher Lysimachus. He named me Bucephalus, and I always rode in humble adoration of the strong young man sitting upon my back. To let him mount I would kneel, so that he needed to use

Postmodernism In The Theatre Essay

942 words - 4 pages artists are concerned with creating works that will inspire their audience in some greater political or social manner and some postmodernists are concerned with creating works that will be entirely different than anything else an audience has ever experienced. Postmodernism is defined by specific characteristics, which mostly steam from a reaction toward the modernist movement. The modernist movement was caused by the quick paced changes that

Postmodernism In The English Patient Essay

1060 words - 4 pages Postmodernism in The English Patient   Postmodernism is one of the most controversial and influential intellectual movements to appear in the last fifty years.  In order to understand postmodernism, it would be wise to begin with a definition of modernism.  Modernism is a philosophy based on the belief that through Enlightenment values of rationality and the absolute truth of science, the human race will evolve into a utopia