The Characters

(Literary Essentials: African American Literature)

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:...

(The entire section is 491 words.)

Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)


Anancy, a “spider individual person” who respects no one, human or beast. Much like his African-Caribbean counterpart, Anancy is a trickster figure, one who transcends natural and cultural boundaries. As a trickster, Anancy symbolizes primal creativity and a pathological bent toward destruction. He is both childlike and ruthlessly self-absorbed. Anancy is a marked creature in both worlds, viewed often as a pest but in the later stories almost as a savior for the Caribbean peoples. He can be a womanizer and a con artist while exhibiting an almost innate nobility. Anancy, a changeling, at one point calls himself “Peacefulness.” As Peacefulness, Anancy becomes a romancer of women, much to the despair of the villagers. Other forms Anancy uses are Hope, Peace Meal, Atomic Horse, Vietnam Anancy, Spider Preacher, and Sweet Love-Powder Merchant. At the end, he undergoes a remarkable transformation into New Man Anancy, a potential leader in the land of the C. World.

Anancy’s wife

Anancy’s wife, an astute female creature, more than a match in wits for her trickster mate. Anancy’s wife is often characterized by her overwhelming sexuality and good sense. In the Creation, Anancy and his wife become one spider individual person. In this capacity, Anancy’s cunning ways are attributed to the ways of his wife, who is locked within his arachnid body. In other stories, it is not clear whether Anancy and his wife...

(The entire section is 491 words.)