The present study is designed to explore the identity construction/reconstruction in Sea of Poppies. It is investigated in the backdrop of postcolonial theory. Norman Fairclough’s Three-dimensional approach of critical discourse analysis is used to examine the construction and reconstruction of different types of (us/them) identities in the colonial era reflected in Sea of Poppies. The analysis deals with the descriptive dimension of Critical Discourse Analysis and discusses discourse as a text that investigates the functional linguistic elements of the overall narrative construction (identity construction/reconstruction) as a counter-discourse to power. It analyzes the identity construction on two levels of representation that is the relation between conversational participant/reader and text/discourse and the expressive which unveils attitudes and ideologies the study sheds light on the way the colonizers defined the other subjects just to define themselves as superior by associating the positive attributes to “us” and negative attributes to “them” thus made them peripheral other subjects.
Identity Construction, Discourse of Power, Us and Them, Silenced Subalterns, Binary Oppositions
The present study explores the identity formation of subaltern subjects during colonial era represented in Amitav ’s Sea of Poppies. It investigates the selected work in the light of the research question of the study that “How are the suppressed identities constructed through the discourse of power in the selected work?”. The beginning of this chapter exhibits a brief introduction of identity formation and its relation to discourse and power. This is followed by a detailed critical discourse analysis of the selected novel through Norman Fairclough’sapproach. The analysis deals with the descriptive dimension of Critical Discourse Analysis and discusses discourse as a text that investigates the functional linguistic elements of the overall narrative construction (identity construction/reconstruction) as a counter-discourse to power. It analyzes the identity construction on two levels of representation that is the relation between conversational participant/reader and text/discourse and the expressive which unveils attitudes and ideologies. The stage of description is the first stage which deals with the formal properties of text such as grammar, vocabulary and textual structures. The choice of grammar and vocabulary highlights the hidden meaning of the text through which the power structures are constructed and the relation of us and them are created.
The suppression of Colonialism silenced the colonized subjugated subalterns and created an identity crisis in them. The idea of Subaltern was first introduced by Gramsci, further developed by RanjitGhua in Subaltern Studies group and discussed by GayatriSpivak with a different notion under Post- colonial studies. The term subaltern symbolizes the marginalized class of the society who doesn’t have agency and any access to the power structures and social power of the society. Spivak reassess the issues of subalternity and disapprove Gramscian notion of the autonomy of the subalterns. According to her the autonomy results in uniformity and homogeneity of the subaltern subjective identity. Spivak also disapproves the notion of subaltern studies group as according to her no methodology could ever avoid the essentialism in defining the subaltern group not even the Marxist group. Spivak while reconsidering the issue of subalternity sheds light on the problems of gender particularly Indian women in the colonial era. She discussed the condition of Indian women specifically the problem of Sati practices in India in the British colonial era. Sati as a subaltern subject was between two polarities: the first one was the British discourse which emphasized on the freedom and agency of Sati and the second was native Hindu, who laid emphasis on the voluntary contribution in the ritual. These two notions produced two different discourses as Spivak(1993)postulates “white man [are] saving brown women from brown men,” the other maintains that, “the woman actually wanted to die”(p.8).The Hindu woman in this situation is deprived of her voice and agency thus her identity turns into a silenced subaltern as Spivak(1993) says “disappeared, not into a pristine nothingness, but into a violent shuttling, which is the displaced figuration of the “third-world woman” caught between tradition and modernization (p.9).The colonial ideologies were infused so strategically that the colonized subaltern subject lost the sense of identity and wanted to assimilate in the colonial culture so to be considered one of them as all the good was associated with the colonizer. The colonized subaltern subjects were well aware of the colonial suppression and criticized it but they couldn’t get rid of the colonial mimicry, they couldn’t stop imitating the colonizers cultural and linguistic behaviors because of which they lost their self-image. Frantz Fanon (1963) in his Black Skin White Masks postulates sadly that “The black man wants to be like the white man. For the black man there is only one destiny and it is white” (p.14). The colonized subject when admitted the dominance of colonizer, couldn’t raise their voice against the inequality and paid a heavy price of it by loss of their own cultural identity hence becomes a hybrid individual. The notion of hybridity reverberates Gramsci’s notion of hegemony as he postulates that the colonizers maintained their dominance in colonized territories with the unconscious implicit permission of the silenced subaltern colonized subject. He argues that the dominance over the suppressed was done for long periods with the contribution of the subordinated. AniaLoomba(1998) writes in Colonialism /Postcolonialism "Gramsci argued that the ruling classes achieve domination not by force or coercion alone, but also by creating subjects who 'willingly' submit to being ruled" (qtd. in Loomba, p.29). Postcolonial literature focuses the aftermath of colonialism on individual and group identities as Ashcroft (2002) discusses in his The Empire Writes Back:
A major feature of post-colonial literatures is the concern of place anddisplacement. It is here that the special post-colonial crisis of identity comes in to being . . . A valid and active sense of self may have been eroded by dislocation resulting from migration, the experience of enslavement, transportation, or voluntary removal for indentured labor. Or it may have been destroyed by cultural denigration, the conscious or unconscious oppression of indigenous personality and culture by a supposedly superior racial of cultural model (p.9).
The unjust exercise of colonial power subjugated the native mind and created a sense of annihilation and existential crisis in native identity which destroyed the harmonious life of the native subjects.
Frantz Fanon’s works are seminal in the decolonization and resistance process. Postcolonial writers and critics apply Fanon’s theories in analysis of colonial discourse thus re-read and subvert the discursive strategies and write back to the center. To Frantz Fanon(1999) the colonial discourse has a "demystifying force and as the launching-pad for a new oppositional stance which would aim at the freeing of the colonized from this disabling position through the construction of new liberating narratives" (qtd .in Ashcroft,Griffiths and Tiffin, Empire,p.125).Edward Said says:
Despite its bitterness and violence, the whole point of Fanon's work is to force the European metropolis to think its history 'together' with the history of colonies awakening from the cruel stupor and abused immobility of imperial dominion(qtd. in Gates,p.458).
According to Edward Said(1979) the orient is created to define occident as a cultural other of it. “European culture gained in strength and identity by setting itself off against the Orient as a sort of surrogate and even underground self" (p.3). The creation of orient was a discursive strategy to dominate, govern and control east. Orient in this way is a discourse which is solely maintained by Europe having no voice and space for east. Said’s notion of orient as discourse reverberates Fanon’s binarism as according to Fanon the other is negated and refuted to privilege the image of self thus the other serves as an antagonist to the image of self. Occident fabricated the image of orient as other through discursive strategies both in Eastern and European mind. Edward Said’s analysis of orient is discussed by several postcolonial critics in studying the signifying system of European colonialism. The image of colonized subject is an artifact, a construct and invention. Thus the postcolonial critics and writers tend to re-read the occidental discourse to unveil its discursive strategies and deconstruct its hegemonic centrism. JanMohamed(1999) argues that the relationship between colonizer and colonized is the Manichean opposition between the supposed inferiority of native other and the putative superiority of Europe. These binary oppositions provide “the central feature of the colonialist cognitive framework and colonialist literary representation: the Manichean allegory--a field of diverse yet interchangeable oppositions between white and black" (p.82). This kind of division put the colonized societies on the position of a perpetual antagonist. To be colonized thus means to be deprived of good characteristics as the positive sign is always clouded by the negative binary opposite and in the same way the evils of the colonizer are covered and veiled by the supposed putative superior status and civility. The colonial discourse which imposed this state of mind contains fissure which paved the path for the postmodern and postcolonial writers to deconstruct the colonial discourse and assumptions of superiority which has dissuaded the colonial discourse from understanding the other as difference.
Power is not only the role of one party but includes both, the one who exercise it and the other who accept it or resist. Wherever power is exercised there is resistance thus the discourse of power runs parallel to the counter discourses with counter-hegemonic strategies. Counter-discourse doesn’t only contradict the discourses in power but represents different versions of reality to counter the hegemonic strategies of the power which regulate and construct social realities. The postcolonial critical and creative texts are explicitly counter-discourses which doesn’t only problematize and question but resist, subvert and deconstruct. Postcolonial text deconstructs the notion of colonized others thus resist against the European cultural colonization. Postcolonial texts challenge the concept of identity formulated by the discourse of power. This discourse struggles “to represent and reflect the world differently” hence the native colonized subject must be seen not as other but difference, difference in culture, color and language. Postcolonial doesn’t intend to occupy the place of center in center/margin struggle rather deconstruct the binary of center and margin by projecting itself as an acceptable adequate difference. It re-reads the discourse of power in order to deconstruct its hegemonic assumptions hence resists and instigates a decolonizing process as Helen Tiffin(1987) in his workPost-colonial Literatures and Counter-discourse says it "invokes an ongoing dialectic between hegemonic centrist systems and peripheral subversion of them" (p.95).Postcolonial intends to re-read the postcolonial creative and critical discourse as a counter discourse because they “are . . . constituted in counter-discursive rather than homologous practices, and they offer 'fields' . . . of counter-discursive strategies to the dominant discourse"(p.96) .Thus the postcolonial text subverts and deconstructs the European claim of the custodian of world literature and culture.
Identity is one of the central themes in Sea of Poppies as AmitavGhosh records the history of colonialism in Indian subcontinent and sheds light on the process of Othering which was practiced through the power of discourse. The novel highlights that how an individual’s identity can be defined by various aspects including relationships, appearance, family, liberation and oppression. AmitavGhosh elaborates the devastating effects and practice of colonialism on social and individual identities. The colonizers defined the other subjects just to define themselves as superior by associating the positive attributes to “us” and negative attributes to “them” thus made them peripheral other subjects. The colonizers drew a boundary between the world by dividing it into two parts east and west. They defined themselves as the most superior race thus justified colonialism. The colonizers claimed it their sacred duty to civilize the uncivilized (colonized) nations. AmitavGhosh (2008) sheds light on the process of othering through different events and characters in Sea of Poppies.The colonizers completely controlled the native mind thus got power over them which is evident in captain Chillingworth’s address to the lascars of Ibis as he says:
I am your fate, your providence, your lawgiver. This chabuk you see in my hands is just one of the keepers of my law and do not doubt for a moment that I will use it without hesitation if it should prove necessary. But remember, always, there is no better keeper of law than submission and obedience. In that respect ,this ship is no different from your own homes and villages. while you are on her you must obey SubedarBhyroSingh . . . as he obeys me. It is he who knows your ways and traditions, and while we are at sea he will be your mai-bap, just as I am his . . . anyone who thinks to make trouble should know that this is what awaits them (p. 422).
The experiential values focus on the classification of schemes, the ideologically contested words, rewording and over wording, and on the ideological meaning relations are there between the words like hyponymy, synonymy and antonym. AmitavGhosh represents the identity construction of subaltern subjects through discourse of power in Sea of Poppies .The quoted lines above present a glimpse of colonial era in Indian subcontinent and illustrates the exercise of power by the colonizers over native subjects. The words I am your fate, your providence, your lawgiver are words which highlight the mental representation of the colonizers as through these words captain Chillingworth infuse the ideology of us and them in the native mind and makes us an epitome of superiority and authority. The phrases your fate,your providence, your lawgiver show the experiential values of the words as the word your is used repeatedly to emphasis the role of superior (the colonizer).
The sentence In that respect, this ship is no different from your own homes and villages is an euphemistic expression(Language and Power 111) as it is an indirect signaling message to the natives to stay suppressed. This line has contradictory meaning as home is a word related to comfort and ease so instead of providing ease and comfort Captain Chillingworth threatens the native subjects on Ibis with the whip and its abusive use. He claims to provide a home like environment to the natives and the home and villages were not much different than Ibis under colonial rule. By the use of these formal words Captain Chillingworth represents a positive self-image.
Expressive values of words investigate the metaphors which are used in the text. In the expressive values of grammatical investigation it examines the links among the simple sentences, logical connectors, complex sentences as well as the subordination and coordination in them (Fairclough, p. 111). The words and do not and but remember in this text are the logical connectors among the simple sentences which show the consequential relationship between the things and are expressed as ideological common sense. In this text AmitavGhosh sheds light on the process of identity formation of subaltern native subjects. The social identity of the native was formed as other in the social communication by the power of discourse.
The analysis of textual structures in Fairclough’s descriptive dimension focuses the investigation of interactional conversation and the ways through “which one participant controls the turns of others” (Fairclogh,p.111). It also examines the larger structures exist inside the text .The words uttered by Captain Chillingworth elucidate the colonial rule in the Indian subcontinent where the power was gained through power of discourse over native subjects. In this communicative event captain Chillingworth is the only one participant who is the sole maker of everything. The text shows not only the individual power of Captain Chillingworth on the people of Ibis but represents the larger structure of colonial structure and colonial ideologies and the native subaltern other subjects.
AmitavGhosh unveils the hegemonic centrism of the colonizers in different communicative events. He illustrates the unequal power distribution in the colonial era of Indian subcontinent where the native subject was made deprived of agency and his voice was never heard by the dominant class. Raja Neel Rattan is a representative of native subaltern class whose identity was constructed as subaltern through the power of discourse. He was accused for an undone crime of forgery and severe punishment of seven years was imposed on him by the dominant. The judge naturalizes the decision of court through discourse as he says:
This court is also in receipt of an opinion, offered by pandits and munshis who are learned in the laws of your religion: they hold that it is not lawful to punish a man of your caste and station as others are punished . . . I freely acknowledge the necessity of accommodating the law to the religious use of the natives, so far as it can be done in a manner consistent with justice. But we see no merit whatsoever in the contention that men of high caste should suffer less severe punishment than any other person; such a principle has never been recognized nor will be recognized in English law, the very foundation of which lies in the belief that all are equal who appear before it . . . in course of this trial it had become a most laughably obvious to Neel that in this system of justice it was the English themselves-Mr. Burnham and his ilk-who were exempt from law as it applied to others; it was they who had become the world’s new Brahmins(p.251).
The words of the judge I freely acknowledge shed light on dominant and governing schemes of the superior and classify the behaviors of Judge as us and Neel as native them. Apparently the judge shows regard and concern for Neel as a native elite subject and shows to provide him the opportunity and favor to take the decision according to the religious laws but in fact accuses him for an undone crime of forgery. The judge by uttering these words classifies and draws a line between the superior and inferior thus suppresses the native subject Neel through the discourse of power.
The words of the judge which he utters about the opinion of munshis and pandits on Neel’s case that they say its not lawful to punish a man of your caste are the indirect euphemistic expression of the judge in this social interaction which construct the identity of native as subaltern subject. In the start Judge by the use of formal words I freely acknowledge the necessity of accommodating the law to the religious use of the natives tries to convey that he acknowledges the native religious law system but then he strategically comes to the point which goes in favor of Mr.Burnham .The judge is shown well aware of Neel’s innocence in this crime but through the discourse of power he dominates the native subjects and takes the decision in favor of Mr.Burnham and punishes Neel for an undone crime.
The words But we see no merit whatsoever in the contention are the logical connector between the formal and simple sentences and are used to determine the powerful position of the judge. The judge legitimizes his wrong decision strategically through discourse .AmitavGhoshhighlights the condition of social relations among the social actors. The colonizers and the colonized are both shown as the social actors in this scenario and the colonizer strategically infuses ideologies (English law) to maintain his power.
In this interactional conversation the judge controls the complete conversation while others Neel(a native
subject),munshis and pundits are absently present in the text .The words such a principle has never been recognized nor will be recognized in English law uttered by the judge shows the complete control on one participant over the others. The opinion of other participants is silenced through dominant discourse thus the native identity is constructed as a subaltern subject both socially and individually. Neel’s Individual identity is shown through the words he utter about the unjust English laws in his heart because he doesn’t have an agency to express his views as his voice is silenced .Neel’s words “in course of this trial it had become a most laughably obvious to Neel that in this system of justice it was the English themselves-Mr Burnham and his ilk-who were exempt from law as it applied to others; it was they who had become the world’s new Brahmins”(p. 251) illustrate the larger structures(colonialism ) which are hidden inside this text. Neel’s words ironically unveil the strategies of colonizers through which they dominated the native subjects and constructed their identities as subaltern suppressed subjects by highlighting their so called positives characteristics.
Us /Them and Othering in Sea of Poppies
Sea of Poppies sheds light on the cruel schemes of colonizers for power maintenance in the Indian subcontinent. Through discourse of power they naturalized the misuse of power to sustain their authority over native subjects. In this process the native subjects were silenced and the division of us (superior) and them (inferior) was projected. Deeti’s marriage with Kalua was exploited by Captain Chillingworth and both of them were punished badly for a legal act as Zachary questions Captain Chillingworth:
But Sir, said Zachary ‘surely his choice of wife is not our business? And surely we can’t let him be flogged for it while he is in our custody? Indeed? Said the captain raising his eyebrows . . . Why, what do you think would happen in Maryland if a white woman were to be violated by a Negro? Why should we expect the Subedar and his men to feel any less strongly than we do ourselves? . . . For this you should know, gentlemen, that there is an unspoken pact between the white man and the natives who sustain his power in Hindoostan . . . The day the natives lose faith in us, as the guarantors of the order of castes-that will be the day gentlemen , that will doom our rule. This is the inviolable principle on which our authority is based-it is what makes our rule different from that of such degenerate and decayed peoples as the Spanish and Portuguese (p.500-501) .
Kalua and Deeti were punished because they married each other and it was not acceptable in Hindu society as Kalua was an untouchable low caste Hindu while Deeti belonged to high caste. Captain Chillingworth took this decision to punish Kalua and Deeti for their marriage to satisfy SubedarBhayro Singh .SubedarBhayro Singh was a cousin to Deeti’s first husband Hukam Singh and wanted to take revenge against Deeti for the crime of her elopement and marriage to Kalua.Captain Chillingworth’s words The day the natives lose faith in us, as the guarantors of the order of castes-that will be the day gentlemen, that will doom our rule show the classifying schemes of the strategic infusion of ideology .Captain Chillingworth apparently satisfies native religious and societal rules but in fact wants to maintain his power cruelly over native subjects. Kalua deconstructs the societal norms and marries Deeti but their agency and freedom was silenced brutally by the colonizers through physical torture and punishment. Colonizer’s claim as the guarantor of the order of caste was for their own benefit to sustain their power over the colonized.
Zachary’s just questions ignited Captain Chillingworth’s anger against the natives and he explained the whole process and strategy of colonialism by highlighting their(native’s) negative attributes and our(colonizer’s) positives attributes .Captain Chillingworth’s representation of us and them ideology is explicit as he replies to Zachary “This is the inviolable principle on which our authority is based-it is what makes our rule different from that of such degenerate and decayed peoples as the Spanish and Portuguese”(p.500-501).Inviolable principle is a formal word through which Captain Chillingworth elucidates the basis of colonial rule. Captain Chillingworth while talking to Zachary associates good characteristics to English colonizers and negative characteristics to the Portuguese and Spanish colonizers as he calls them decayed and degenerated people. Captain Chillingworth naturalizes his decision of flogging Kalua and Deeti through the discourse of power hence constructed the native reality as inferior.
Zachary’s consent in Kalua and Deeti’s issue is just as he considers it a legal and personal decision as he says “But Sir, said Zachary’ ‘surely his choice of wife is not our business? And surely we can’t let him be flogged for it while he is in our custody?”(p.500).Zachary voice is suppressed too and Captain Chillingworth in this communicative event is the only one who controls the overall event and imposes his decision. Captain Chillingworth legitimizes the punishment of flogging by comparing the native subjects with African Americans hence draws a line between the white race as higher and black and brown races as inferior .Captain Chillingworth’s words “Why, what do you think would happen in Maryland if a white woman were to be violated by a Negro? Why should we expect the Subedar and his men to feel any less strongly than we do ourselves?” highlights the ideological larger structures of us/them and civilized/uncivilized. The “operative turn-taking”(Fairclough,p.134) of Captain Chillingworth in this dialogue illustrates the power relationship among the participants .Zachary(a black blood) though is equal to Captain Chillingworth in authority but his voice is suppressed and Captain Chillingworth controls and dominates the communicative event .
The colonizers constructed the native identity inferior through the discourse of power. Sea of Poppies sheds light on the history of subaltern identity construction of colonial era in Indian subcontinent and deconstructs the constructed “reality” by bringing the periphery in mainstream. AmitavGhosh narrates the history from below hence brings in multiple voices from history. records the experiences of subaltern subjects who were silenced in the process of colonialism .The French girl Paulett’s conversation with Zachary Reid illustrates the colonial ideology of superiority as Paulette says:
You have kept my secret, she whispered. ‘Perhaps you cannot conceive what that means in this world I live in? Look around you, Mr Reid: Do you see anyone here who would for a moment believe that a memsahib could think of a native –a servant- as a brother ?No: the possible imputations would be ascribed.’ ‘Not by me, Miss Lambert, Said Zachary . . . Really? She said, looking him full in the eyes.it doesn’t seem uncroyable to you that a bond so intimate and yet so innocent should exist between a white girl and a boy of another race? (p.277).
The conversation between Zachary and Paulette illustrates the classifying scheme of colonial superiority. Paulette’s affiliation for Jodu as her brother is very intense and she hides this secret because she belongs to white race and says “that a memsahib could think of a native –a servant- as a brother?” The white race is considered to be the superior race hence the outer group was considered inferior other. Paullete’s love for her childhood mate Jodu was natural but because of the colonial ideology of superiority she couldn’t show her affiliation for Jodu publically. The colonizers by the ideology of us and them maintained their dominance over native group. Paulette’s identity as memsahib was constructed through the discourse of power and she became a memsahib forJodu though she spent her whole childhood with Jodu because she belonged to the superior white race and Jodu to the inferior native group.
Paulette’s conversation with Zachary Reid elucidates the euphemistic colonial mind set as she repeats the words which state the us and them relation .Her words a memsahib and a native servant ,a white girl and a man of other race shed light on the binary relationship between the colonizer and colonized.Man of other race was considered inferior because of the difference and this ideology of outer group as inferior was inculcated in native mind strategically through the discourse of power.
Paulette’s words to Zachary highlight the overall colonial ideology in which there is no space for a relation between a man of race and a white girl .The self-ascribed superiority of colonizers divided the world and human beings into categories in which an outer group was considered inferior other and a “white man’s burden”. Paulette’s words “perhaps you cannot conceive what that means in this world I live in” explains the dread of being in relation with a native subject which was extremely condemned in white society. This sentence shows the nature of colonizer and colonized relationship in which colonizer was the dominating participant who constructed the reality of native’s identity as inferior.
Substitution of Subjectivity
Amitav Ghosh in Sea of poppies elucidates the relationship of us and them in Indian subcontinent. Ghosh highlights the power structures which constructed the native silenced identity. The whole process of colonialism was a strategy to inculcate the ideology of positive us and negative them. Amitav Ghosh sheds light on the overall process of negative other representation and positive self-representation in which our “good” qualities and attributes were highlighted and their “bad” things and attributes were emphasized. The colonizer defined himself by defining the native in negative dark colors and thought himself the superior which is elucidated well in Sea of Poppies.Mr. Crowle punishes the native subjects to death for their minor unconscious mistakes .In Mr.Crowle’s presence the lascars try to hide in corners because of his severe punishments. Steward Pinto narrates a story of Mr.Crowle’s punishment to his fellow lascars with a pale gray face:
Steward pinto whose dark face had turned a strange ashycoloursaid:I know this Burra Malum –Mr.Crowle .I served on a ship with him once . . . my cousin Miguel, from Aldona, was on that ship too.he was a little younger than me . . . one day while serving dinner in bad weather, Miguel spilled some soup on this Crowle. He flew into a rage and said Miguel wasn’t fit to be a mess-boy: took hold of him by the ear, led him out on deck, and told him he would be working up on the foremast from then on. Now Miguel was a hard worker, but he couldn’t climb well . . . he begged and begged but Crowle paid him no mind. Even the serang went and explained the problem: whip the boy ,serang’s efforts only made things worse-for do you know what this Crowle bastard did? . . . he deliberately made the climb even harder, by taking down the iskat: without the ladders . . . for someone like Miguel it was close to impossible, and Crowle must have known what would come of it . . . The wind took him and carried him away like a kite (p.240-241).
Miguel’s suffering and punishment shows the scheme of classifying behaviors of the colonizers. The sentence “took hold of him by the ear, led him out on deck, and told him he would be working up on the foremast from then on” illustrates the classifying behaviors of colonizers as Mr.Crowle punishes Miguel for a minor mistake ,humiliates him badly by taking hold of his ear callously and punishes him to death. He justifies himself for his behavior because he belongs to the superior white race and Miguel is an outer group native who is destined to suffer such atrocities. The term begged and begged is reworded which elucidates the ideology of us and them, though Miguel beg Mr.Crowle but he doesn’t pay any heed to his distressing request.
This text shows the indirect infusion of colonial ideology through different acts. Miguel apparently was punished because he committed a mistake of pouring soup on his officer’s shirt. The overall context of bad weather is ignored which caused the mistake rather he is punished to death for that mistake. Miguel’s punishment indirectly is the exercise of colonial ideology to “civilize” the uncivilized native subjects at the cost of their life. In this process of civilizing the native subject’s identity is suppressed to such an extent that they lose individuality and voice and turn into silenced subalterns. The sentence “Crowle must have known what would come of it . . . The wind took him and carried him away like a kite” sheds light on the exercise of colonialism as Mr. Crowle did not pay any attention to the scary face of Miguel and made the climbing process more difficult for him to make sure he will lose his life in any case and that’s what happened as Pinto narrates “the wind took him and carried him away like a kite”. Native was treated bitter than an animal by the colonizers to maintain power in the colonized region. The word bastard by Pinto is used for the colonizer through which AmitavGhosh highlights the hatred of native subjects for the colonizers thus he decenters the center by highlighting the periphery feelings.
In this communicative event Mr. Crowle is the controlling participant as he is the one who decides death for Miguel for a minor mistake. The native participants in this communicative event don’t exhibit any agency and get silenced to death by the power structures. The ideology of us and them is highlighted in this discursive event as Crowle is the superior civilized colonizer who has to tackle the “white man’s burden” native subjects and he civilizes them in such a way that they lose their cultural and individual identities and some of them lose their lives too as it happens with Miguel.
Colonialism was exhibited as an “extension of civilization” which naturalized the self-ascribed superiority of us over them. Colonizers used the native subjects as an object to be played to sustain their power. Colonial ideology was infused strategically in the native subjects which in result constructed the native identity as silenced subalterns. Mr.Crowle humiliates Neel and Ah Fatt inhumanly just for fun of some moments .Neel and Ah Fatt are accused of undone crimes and punished mercilessly by the power structures. Subedar narrates the growing affiliation between Neel and Ah Fatt to Mr .Crowle ,who in return frames a game of fun of both Neel and Ah Fatt urinating on each other. The identity of well- educated people like Neel and Ah Fatt is silenced by the misuse of power structures as it is illustrated well in the following text:
Whatsthe wager, sir? Said Neel. ‘That one o’yer is a –going to empty the Jordon on t’other’… ‘Jordon’s greek for piss-dale,Jack ,said the mate impatiently .’I am betting one of o’yer is going to squeeze his taters on t’other’sphizz. So there y’have it. No blows or beating, mind: nothing but situation. yer a-going to do it o’yer own will or not at all. ‘I see sir’.So what do y’make of me chances ,jack-gagger?Neel tried to think of himself urinating on Ah Fatt, for the entertainment of these two men ,and his stomach turned . . . closing his eyes ,Ah Fatt turned his face to the sky and squeezed out a thin trickle of urine over Neel . . . ‘Good day’s work, jackin-ape ! There’s a lesson in how to use a spart to catch a mackerel. Gave yer mate a taste o’yer piss and earned y’self a gobful of goatshit to boot!(p.475-477).
Mr. Crowle’s behavior highlights the classifying scheme of colonial behviours. Mr.Crowle misuses his power and disgraces Ah Fatt and Neel to urinate on each other just to enjoy their enmity. He didn’t want friendly terms between the lascars and criminals on Ibis and punished Ah Fatt and Neel for that. The words he uses for both Ah Fatt and Neel show his inhumane brutal behavior towards native subjects because he belonged to the self-ascribed superior race. “I am betting one of o’yer is going to squeeze his taters on t’other’sphizz. So there y’have it. No blows or beating, mind: nothing but situation”. This text shows the discursive practices of colonizers through which they dominated the colonized society. I am betting shows the superiority in his tone that he has to win the bet in any case and at any cost .squeeze his tatters and other phizz are humiliating words he uses for well educated people like Neel and Ah Fatt. He further adds no beating.no blow which shows that for a colonizer self-respect of a native doesn’t really matter and this humiliating act was just a minor act for recreation of the colonizer.
Ah Fatt and Neel’s humiliation sheds light on the ideology of the colonizer that to them native was merely an object who could be used for any purpose and sport. Mr.Crowle uses very informal words like Jackin-ape and jack-gagger for Neel and Ah Fatt to exhibit his superiority over them .Neel and Ah Fatt were well educated and well versed individuals of society who were treated brutally just to silence their agency and ultimately make them silenced subalterns of native society.
This text shows the overall ideology of colonizer which was to dominate the native society by exercising power. The so called process of civilizing the uncivilized native by the civilized Europeans suppressed the native identity to such an extent that they lost their individuality and voice and became colonized subjects. “Good day’s work, jackin-ape ! There’s a lesson in how to use a spart to catch a mackerel.” these lines show exercise of colonial power as Mr.Crowle win the bet by force and betrayed Ah Fatt in a disgusting manner and made him urinate on his best friend Neel. Mr. Crowle betrayed Ah Fatt by showing him opium as he knew that Ah Fatt was an opium addict. Ah Fatt couldn’t control his crave for opium and the thought of a shining reward of opium made him hurt his friend Neel, Mr. Crowle’s strategy of turning friends against each other highlight the colonial strategies through which they ruled the region for many years .Ah Fatt did not get the reward of opium rather a goat’s shit to chew with a wicked laughter of Mr.Crowle and Subedar as Mr .Crowle says “Gave yer mate a taste o’yer piss and earned y’self a gobful of goat’s shit to boot”.Mr.Crowle controls the overall communicative event and dominates all participants in the event.
Sea of Poppies elaborates the devastating effects and practice of colonialism on social and individual identities.It sheds light on the way the colonizers defined the other subjects just to define themselves as superior by associating the positive attributes to “us” and negative attributes to “them” thus made them peripheral other subjects. The colonizers drew a boundary between the world by dividing it into two parts east and west. Amitav Ghosh deconstructs the colonial discourse and narrates the history from below thus rewrites history from the periphery.
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