The characters in Anancy’s Score follow the constraints of the beast fable. Their purpose is to illuminate moral truth. The emphasis of the characterization in the fable, therefore, is on the abstract concepts that the figures represent, not on psychological development. True to generic convention, most of the animals in this modern-day fable are peripheral; that is, they serve only as consultants or sounding boards for the more charismatic Anancy, who, although the central character, is one-dimensional and representational.
Salkey’s Anancy is derivative, drawn from the popular Anansi (a spider) of West African and Caribbean folklore. The folkloric Anansi is a trickster figure, basically an outlaw. The Anansi is an outsider in both the natural world and the civilized world. He inhabits, simultaneously, the natural and the human spheres and is bent on mocking the laws of both. The Anansi is set upon wreaking havoc on humanity and nature. In the folklore he does so, temporarily.
Although the Anansi stories are retold in a humorous vein, the underlying message they provide is serious. Eventually the Anansi gets his comeuppance in these tales; many times, the consequences are dire. Consequently, in West African and Caribbean folklore, the Anansi’s fate provides a moral lesson. The Anansi stories caution their audience about the dangers of disrupting the community and disregarding its mores. The lesson they teach is a simple one:...
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