Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Active Voice

In the “Notebook of a Return to the Native Land,” Aime Cesaire poignantly writes on the effects of political violence, colonization, exile, and resistance to colonial influences. Through vivid imagery, Cesaire paints a disturbing picture of life on his native island of Martinique. Lines 261 through 275 of “Notebook of a Return to the Native Land” epitomize Cesaire’s sparse and gritty style. Referring to the plight of the disenfranchised inhabitants of his homeland, Cesaire writes, “My mouth shall be the mouth of those calamities that have no mouth….” Here Cesaire attacks the dichotomy between the colonizer and the colonized, the oppressor and the oppressed. Brining a message of hope to these oppressed peoples, Cesaire writes, “… my voice [will be] the freedom of those who break down in the solitary confinement of despair.” At the close of this section, Cesaire encourages his readers to stand against the inequalities of colonial rule. He writes, “And above all, my body as well as my soul, beware of assuming the sterile attitude of a spectator, for life is not a spectacle….” In his characteristic style, Cesaire then goes on to compare life under colonial rule to a “sea of miseries” on a stage, and to further emphasize the importance of resisting the inequities of colonial rule.

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