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Seeking An Identity Through Carnival Essay

1251 words - 5 pages


According to the article History of Carnival, in the past carnival was a tradition that celebrated the day before lent. As stated in the article History of Carnival, "Hundred and hundreds of years ago, the followers of the Catholic religion in Italy started the tradition of holding a wild costume festival right before the first day of Lent. Because Catholics are not supposed to eat meat during Lent, they called their festival, carnevale — which means “to put away the meat.” The French, who migrated to Trinidad, brought this tradition with them. As a result Africans who were enslaved by the French, adapted carnival and incorporated aspects of their culture into carnival. The carnival that occurs in Trinidad today holds a different meaning.
Carnival is a method of self-expression for the Trinidadians. Carnival is a way of defining the identity of Trinidadians and because of carnival people transcend into these characters that they wish to become. Trinidadians use carnival as a way to escape from the reality and transform into characters that they believe truly define them. Carnival is not so much about tradition, but about self- portrayal. In the book The Dragon Can’t Dance by Earl Lovelace and the film Mas Man by Dalton Narine, there are examples of people personalizing the characteristics obtained through the characters they play during Trinidad Carnival.
In the story, The Dragon Can't Dance, Aldrick is a poor Trinidadian man who resides on Calvary Hill. Aldrick lives in a small room with hardly any space for himself. He is a jobless man and his only purpose in life is fulfilling the character of a dragon, which is who he becomes during carnival. Aldrick invests a lot of time in making his dragon costume for carnival. In reality, Aldrick believes he is truly a dragon. Throughout the book, Aldrick reminds himself that he is a dragon and that he should neglect any sympathetic feelings he acquires for people, people like the young boy Basil, who is Fisheye’s stepson and Sylvia. After his interaction with Sylvia, the young girl who he desires, he conceives these conflicting emotions, which he fights off. In the book it states, “And he knew that it was not just the matter of buying her a costume either – not that he had money even for that- but to make even that offer now was to begin to contradict the very guts and fibre of his own living: Aldrick was a dragon. He was a hustler, working nowhere; and the only responsibility he was prepared to bear now was to his dragon, that presentation on Carnival day of the self that he had lived the whole year. He had his life (pg 44).” Aldrick strongly believes that he in fact is a dragon not only during carnival but also during his daily life. Throughout the book he refers to himself as a dragon incapable of love and feeling emotions. Carnival has brought a sense of character to Aldrick. Through Carnival he was able to portray himself as a dragon, and identify himself as one on the daily bases....

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