Exploring Caribbean Ecofeminist Writing:Analysis of Walcott, Brathwaite, Zapata & More

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  6
Wordcount:  1645 Words
Date:  2023-06-07

Ecocritical and ecofeminist writing is an essential part to narrating historical and political landscapes of the Caribbean. Several writers have used different language and style to communicate the important messages of feminism and nature. This paper examines and critically analyzes some of these writers' works including Derek Walcott, Kamau Brathwaite and Manuel Zapata among others. The recurring themes of these readings are landscapes, nature, women and their role in healing nature (in Zapata's writing). Walcott and Brathwaite, for instance, use poetry to reimagine the Caribbean landscape using language and imagery of the nature of the landscape. They both tackle the social alienation that is emanating from the shifting landscape in the Caribbean from the time of slavery and colonization to the modern times when investors are constructing amenities for tourism. The works analyzed in this paper portray issues in the Caribbean different from is portrayed in the media, both in polyphonic and polysemic ways.

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Walcott and Brathwaite's poetry are a form of protest in preserving the natural ecological nature of the Caribbean, while also serves as a historical preservation of how the place used to be like. Zapata's work, on the other hand, is a protest against marginalization and oppression (Almeida et al., 232). Even though the texts are mostly in English, there is an underlying portrayal of the people using the language and beyond the language. The use of English recognizes the differences in dialects that exist across the Caribbean. Choosing a specific dialect would have implied elevation of that specific language over the others, and these authors are aware of the ecological nature of the languages in the Caribbean. This choice of language can be seen as a pursuit of commonality (Almeida et al, 212). It is an intentional choice not to erase any of the Caribbean identities. For instance, the title 'Driftword' of a poem by Brathwaite (Almeida et al, 212) invokes that feeling of movement and change in language.

These writers intertwine the poetic language with the landscape of the Caribbean in a seamless ecosystem. Brathwaite's choice of language is intimate in that he uses personas such as mother and fathers. The role of parents in any culture is to protect. Therefore it seems that in intertwining parenthood with the landscape of the Caribbean, Brathwaite is bringing out the aspect of protection. The poem 'Alpha' demonstrates this concept when he writes that 'and my mother rains upon the island/with her loud voices' (Almeida et al, 211). Rain nurtures the soil and enables plants to grow, which is symbolic of restoring the land to how it used to be. The poem continues 'he has gone out to the world Columbus found... while my mother sits and calls on Jesus name' (Almeida et al, 212). The father going out to work in the farms, a sign of seeking sustenance and traditionally, providing for his family. The mother sitting and calling on Jesus name is to denote prayer.

Walcott's language resists the commodification of the Caribbean as a paradise. He seeks to recover other narratives of the place which are different from the capitalistic tourist view from those whose aim is take up the place. He shifts from the glorification of the Caribbean as a tourist destination and writes about the poverty-stricken people fenced out of the resorts (Almeida et al, 206) that are mushrooming in the place. Walcott also talks about the disappearance of language. In this eco-critical work, he is aware that not only the physical and geographical is changing but also the language. 'The Aruac's Patois crackled in the smell/of a resinous bonfire that turned the leaves brown/with curling tongues, then ash, and their language was lost' (Almeida et al, 205)

The text 'Landscapes, Narratives, and Tropical Nature: Creole Modernity in Suriname' examines the ecology and ecofeminist concepts as well as race and gender. The text talks about the Dutch involvement in Brazil and how they sought to transform the tropical land, with plenty of rain forest coverage into plantations. The Dutch did not consider the actual ecosystem of the place and the decision to clear the forests for plantation was not informed by the vast knowledge that the natives had on their ecosystem (DeLoughrey, 226). This brings about the concept of race and how the Dutch, being white, assumed their superiority to the natives. They felt that their civilization would bring about modernity in Suriname, which was different from what they encountered. Due to this superior mindset they did not seek knowledge from the natives. The discussion of characters such as Elisabeth Samson (DeLoughrey, 230) makes the article ecofeminist as it explores the life of this black woman at the center of this ecocritical time in Brazil.

Orality is the use of speech as the primary mode of communication. Orality mostly existed in communities that were not predisposed to literacies of writing and reading. The communities that have orality as an aspect of their culture often pass down important cultural information through fairytales, folklores, and even music. As opposed to the modern music, the music component of orality involves use of locally and traditionally available instruments like drums. To outsiders, the beats and rhythm might seem like any other music, but the locals can interpret every sound and every beat. For instance, Roemer mentions the 'motif of Grimm's fairy tales' and the rhythms of the drums in the Djuka, Sranan-tongo and Surinamese-Dutch languages (DeLoughrey, 233).

Elisabeth Samson challenges the culture and 'lives earlier than her time' so to speak. She is black, married to a white man, and wealthy. Black women were not allowed to marry white men but she defies that. Her wealth and marriage have defied the ideologies on social mobility. Regulations such as those on marriage were there to hinder this social mobility and Elisabeth defiantly goes against them. She becomes the wealthiest woman in Paramaribo (DeLoughrey, 231). She thrives for the equality of races and gender by this social mobility. She creates space for more black people and black women to see themselves as equal to white men.

In contrast is one Wilhelmina Rijiburg, known as 'Maxi Linder' who also lived in the same place. She was a successful prostitute who gave to charity (DeLoughrey, 231). She symbolizes the cultural beliefs that women could only get upward mobility through sex-related work. In essence, both she and Elisabeth used an almost similar way to gain social mobility and wealth. Both their deaths are said to have been tragic and lonely. This could be to warn other women intending to use such means to try to attain equality and social status.

In contrast to these female characters, a male character, Ilya chooses a traditional profession. He is a teacher in his locale amidst others, including his family, moving to the Netheralnds to look for better opportunities (DeLoughrey, 231). Ilya is symbolic of a traditional Creole who chooses to build his nation by offering his services. He represents the patriots who stay to build their home when everyone else leaves. The crashing of the plane with those who left (DeLoughrey, 232) also warns of the tragedies similar to that of Elisabeth Samson and Maxi Linder on leaving.

KanKantri, mother-tree, cotton tree, is a landmark for the natives (DeLoughrey, 234). It stands in between modernity and the inside culture. It serves as a reminder to the people not to succumb to the pressure of the foreigners. Ilya does not succumb to the pressure to leave for Netherlands. The natives justify their reverence to this tree using Christianity (DeLoughrey, 233) which was one aspect of modernity that the natives were feeling pressure to succumb to.

Polyphony refers to having diverse points of view about a concept. Narratives, Landscapes and Tropical Nature in this essay have been presented in different point of views, yet in reference to the same things. The point of view of the tropical forests for the natives was to maintain the ecosystem while for the Dutch it was to destroy it to create plantations. Polysemic refers to having different meanings. The various points of views resulted in the polysemic analysis in the essay. For instance, tropical nature could mean the weather in Brazil but could also refer to the culture of people filled with festivities and such. One of the polysemic depictions in narratives is that liberation of the landscapes needs to happen alongside the liberation of women (Warren, 327).

The narratives in these articles have been woven into ecological landscapes as well as feminist ones. The destruction of the ecosystem by the partriarchial cultures can be solved through feminist liberations. Brathwaite intertwine the intimate nature of mothers into reimagining the restoration of the Caribbean landscape. Walcott's writing protest the manner in which the landscape is being territorialized from the natives who are being fenced out. Inside the fence is the tourist attraction narrative while outside are the natives living in poverty and dealing with after effects of colonization. Zapata writing centers feminism in restoration of the ecosystem. He juxtaposes the partriachial effects of oppression and marginalization of women and the destruction of the ecosystem.

Work Cited

Almeida, Irene A., et al. "Re-visioning a Poetics of Landscape: Resistance and Continuum in the Poetry of Kamau Brathwaite and Derek Walcott" by the critic James McCorkle." Eco-imagination: African and Diasporan Literatures and Sustainability, Africa Research and Publications, 2014, pp. 203-215.

Almeida, Irene A., et al. "The Double Bind: Women and the Environment in Chambacu and A Saint is Born in Chima"(Manuel Zapata Olivella) by the critic Uchenna P. Vasser." Eco-imagination: African and Diasporan Literatures and Sustainability, Africa Research and Publications, 2014, pp. 219-233.

DeLoughrey, Elizabeth M., et al. "Landscapes, Narratives, and Tropical Nature: Creole Modernity in Surinam by IP Rheinberger." Caribbean Literature and the Environment: Between Nature and Culture, U of Virginia P, 2005, pp. 225-235.

Warren, Karen, et al. "Androcentrism and Athropocentrism, Parallels and Politics by Val Plumwood."." Ecofeminism: Women, Culture, Nature, Indiana UP, 1997, pp. 327-333.

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Exploring Caribbean Ecofeminist Writing:Analysis of Walcott, Brathwaite, Zapata & More. (2023, Jun 07). Retrieved from https://midtermguru.com/essays/exploring-caribbean-ecofeminist-writinganalysis-of-walcott-brathwaite-zapata-more

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