This Earth of Mankind

by Pramoedya Ananta Toer

Start Free Trial

Are there any quotes about race in The Earth of Mankind?

There are many quotes about race in The Earth of Mankind, as it is ultimately a story about the destructive impacts of colonialism. For example, consider the meaning of Telinga’s statement that “colored people could never conquer whites ... not ever” (114) or how Minke is told that if he keeps a “European attitude,” he could “perhaps become someone important” (148). Such quotes highlight how European colonialist ideologies complicate the ways in which colonized people understand their own identities.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

There are several quotes about race and racial discrimination in this story, but I will discuss a few important ones.

For example, when talking about Robert, the narrator Minke says he is “someone who believed in European superiority” and would thus “no doubt put his faith in the white race” (Toer, 114).

In this same section Minke discusses a conversation he overheard between Jean Marais and Telinga in which Jean said, "Previously, colored peoples conquered the white peoples. Now the white peoples conquered the colored peoples.” Telinga replied, “The whites had never been beaten in three centuries by coloreds. Three centuries! Indeed it could happen that one white people could conquer another white people. But a colored could never conquer whites...Not ever” (114).

The above quotes show the reader the effects that ideologies of white supremacy and European colonialism had on understandings of race relations in the world.

Later on, Minke is told if he maintains his “European attitude, not a slavish attitude like most Javanese,” that he could “perhaps one day become an important person” (148). This demonstrates how European ideologies of superiority pressured native peoples to conform to European culture.

This pressure to conform is also seen when Minke’s father says that general Javanese people “among themselves feel as if they are from a race which has no equal on earth. But as soon as they are near a European, even just one, they shrivel up, lacking the courage even to lift up their eyes” (192). Here Toer again highlights the effect European colonization can have on how colonized people conceptualize their own national identity.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team