Thursday, February 10, 2011
Marlon James’ the Book of the Night Women is a riveting exposure of the dynamics of the lack of kinship, conflicts of interests, violence, punishments, arrangements of conveniences, fragmentation, social structure and struggle in a plantation society, during the enslavement of African people in the Americas.
The contrast between the major characters carries the book. The green-eyed females were all issued into existence by the overseer, Jack Wilkens, yet they displayed no sisterly love to each other. The bonding amongst the females seems to have been orchestrated by Homer. The head house slave was the major force in the social setting. Lilith is the primary character. She is strong willed, open-minded and most of all true to her own self interest. The interaction between Homer and Lilith exposing their differences and similarities is the focal point.
There were conflicts of interests between the House slaves and the Field slaves, slaves birthed in Africa and those born in the colony, slave drivers and the field slaves, the Maroons and the enslaved, the former Overseer and the present overseer, the Creole Europeans and those birthed in Europe. There are numerous references to historic events, such as the revolts in Jamaica and the slave revolt which matured into the successful Haitian Revolution.
The text is laced with sexually explicit language, and the harsh realities of exploited people on a sugar cane plantation. The characters in the text are superbly established. The characters have a sense of understanding the nature of the beast in their environment. It shows the undaunted human spirit. It also demonstrates the characteristics of the thought process of humans in the scheme of things.
The Book of the Night Women is an excellent tome, indeed. It is highly recommended, that, those, especially females, seeking an understanding of the triumphs, and failures of enslaved African people in a colonial setting.