Themes and Meanings
In the burgeoning field of fiction and drama dealing with imperialism, colonialism, and their consequences, Natives of My Person is of particular significance not only for its stylization of the historical background but also for its treatment of its subject exclusively through the minds of the imperialists. Taking for its theme the moral and psychological strategies by which the avatars of empire articulate their moral natures, the novel dwells on the evasions, corruptions, sublimations, and impositions that are an unacknowledged but decisive force in the workings of those natures. In one sense, it is of little consequence that the voyage of the Reconnaissance to San Cristobal is abortive. What is at issue is not the conquest but the character of the would-be conquerors. Blind to their own human fallibility, they can hardly be expected to be alive to the humanity of those who seem different to them, whether the difference is in skin color or, as in the novel, in gender.
In one of the journal extracts that occur periodically throughout Natives of My Person, there is a rehearsal of some of the major tropes of racism. These include stereotypical assumptions regarding the untamed, indisciplined, sexually abandoned, and generally monstrous nature of those captured for enslavement. The inevitable conclusion is that such creatures are beyond the moral pale and must be considered alien to their captors’ codes of civilization....
(The entire section is 568 words.)