Stylized Haitian peasants are acting out a cock fight between King Christophe and President Pétion, who are fighting for political power in Haiti. At the same time, French forces under Emperor Napoleon I are threatening to invade Haiti and to destroy the newly independent country that owes its freedom to a successful slave revolt led by François-Dominique Toussaint Louverture. The French later kill him in prison.
Most ominously, the French want to reestablish slavery in Haiti. The external threat weighs heavily, as the vain and racist megalomaniac Napoleon bitterly resents that black people had driven French soldiers from Haiti. A violent French attack against Haiti is expected at any time.
The incredibly vain King Christophe is to be rewarded for his courageous service as a general to Toussaint Louverture. The Haitian senate offers him the office of president of the republic. He haughtily rejects this honor because the Haitian constitution restricts the president’s power so that tyranny can be prevented.
As a representative of the senate, President Pétion tells Christophe that his desire for unlimited power means that he has rebelled against the state. Because of his vanity, Christophe provokes a civil war in Haiti. Southern Haiti remains a democracy, but Christophe transforms northern Haiti into an absolute monarchy and names himself king. He claims that he grants Haitians dignity by giving them noble titles—such as the duke of Lemonade and Sir Lolo Prettyboy—as artificial as those that can be found at any European royal court such as Versailles in France. The newly crowned king is blissfully oblivious to the simple fact that Haitians had revolted against...
(The entire section is 695 words.)