Why is Aldrick happy in The Dragon Can't Dance?

In The Dragon Can't Dance, Aldrick is happy because he has created his own value system as an alternative to the conventional symbols people in society are expected to believe in. The centrality that Carnival holds for him represents this focus upon an unorthodox and nonmaterialistic lifestyle. Nevertheless, at the root of his choices lies a basic dissatisfaction and unhappiness he attempts to counter through a rebellion against the outside world.

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Aldrick, in some fundamental way, is not really happy. He lives in a kind of fantasy world in which the seemingly unattainable Sylvia is constantly in his thoughts. His focus upon Carnival and the dragon costume he painstakingly works on are symbolic of a desire to escape an intolerable reality...

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Aldrick, in some fundamental way, is not really happy. He lives in a kind of fantasy world in which the seemingly unattainable Sylvia is constantly in his thoughts. His focus upon Carnival and the dragon costume he painstakingly works on are symbolic of a desire to escape an intolerable reality to which the poor residents of Port of Spain are subjected. He's a rebel, and the culminating act of his rebellion occurs when he participates in the ultimately fruitless commandeering of a police van, for which he and the others are sent to jail. His interest in Sylvia is a hopeless obsession, an ideal that complements the unreality of Carnival as an escape from the harshness of the material world.

That said, Aldrick is happy in a higher sense because he does not care about the real world. He and the other residents of Calvary Street create their own values given that the odds are stacked against them in any attempt to find conventional success. The outsider Pariag is disliked by the others because he believes in the material world. In some sense Aldrick, Fisheye, and the others are not immune to that world and its values, but they've implicitly rejected it, and their rejection is the source of the happiness and satisfaction they do achieve. Aldrick lives for Carnival, and his dragon costume is an emblem of his own personal success in defiance of the normal expectations for any person, even those in a neighborhood submerged in endemic poverty. Even his longing for Sylvia is his personal assertion of will, as if to make the point that he doesn't care if others would think him unrealistic and foolhardy. His rejection of the implied judgment others would level against him is a kind of salvation for him.

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