How can you see superiority and inferiority as represented in the novel A Bend in the River? (Indicate your answer with points of view for the characters related to the idea in the novel.)

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proteach40 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Salim (protagonist):  superior sounding in his shock at the conditions in the town he settles in as well as the relationship the Indian villagers have with the African population.  He grows more superior as the story progresses and he receives wealth and stature through his dealing with not only the Indian population but the African one as well.  Having this stature warrants him a space in the new regime once the "new army" arrives.  Once the army settles and takes over the town, Salim's stature is now lost and he becomes inferior due to the propoganda he is forced to distribute and the party line he is forced to take.  Even the short respite he enjoys with Yvette does not bolster his superiority.  It only serves to make him more inferior.  When rebellion against the new regime begins, he searches for a way out in order not to be jailed or killed by the rebels, therefore sinking to his lowest point.  He still retains his superior attitude about being an "honest businessman" when he leaves the region for safety as well as to regain his stature. 

Metty (foil to Salim):  superior as she adds to Salim's viewpoint on the townspeople and what they do in response to the Africans who are persecuting the Indian population in their region.  Even though she is a servant, she comments time and time again on how the Indian population should rise up against what is happening to them in Salim's town.  Her betrayal of Salim for the ivory in his home upon his return to Africa is her last ditch effort to save her own hide from what she sees as cultural appropriation.

Zabeth (Salim's best customer for his shop and also a local "magician"): inferior due to his race and his stature within the community as well as the son he raises from outside the tribe.

Ferdinand (Zabeth's son who attends Father Huisman's school):  inferior for his heritage at being from another tribe and also being a bastard within the culture of the town at the beginning of the book. By the end of the story he becomes the one voice that attempts to warn Salim of the impending doom of the town under the new regime.

Father Huismans: superior attitude as the "educator" in town as well as someone who sees the African culture as an antiquity instead of an independent culture.  He respects it but does not seem to treat the people as if they existed before him in any structured way.  This more than likely is carried over into his death by mercenaries and why the town doesn't mourn him once he is gone.

Raymond (right hand man to the president and Yvette's husband):  superior at first through his work with the president as well as having Yvette as a prize but then falls to inferior when he realizes that none of his work is meeting the president's standards for what he wants to do in the region.

Yvette: inferior for two reasons--she is a female character in a male dominated book and she is an adulterer with Salim once they are introduced.  Even though she is seduced by Salim, she does not resist their affair and even carries it out right under her husband's nose.  She is degraded by Salim for being a "whore" and is dismissed by him once he beats her and spits on her.

***these are the main characters as I have seen them, if you would like further dissection, please email me directly***

Further Reading:
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A Bend in the River

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