Last Updated on August 7, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 639
Carpentier showcases several opposing cultures as governments change and characters travel to new places. They find new things and connect to them as their circumstances change. For example, he writes that Ti Noel
"found in the Spanish churches a Voodoo warmth he had never encountered in the Sulpician churches of the Cap. The baroque golds, the human hair of the Christs, the mystery of the richly carved confessionals, the guardian dog of the Dominicans, the dragons crushed under saintly feet, the pig of St. Anthony, the dubious color of St. Benedict, the black Virgins, the St. Georges with the buskins and corselets of actors in French tragedies, the shepherds' instruments played on Christmas Eve had an attraction, a power of seduction in presence, symbols, attributes, and signs similar to those of the altars of the houmforts consecrated to Damballah, the Snake god."
These descriptions help draw attention to the two very different cultures represented in the novel. One is the European culture of Christianity, and the other is the African culture involving Voodoo religions. The two are juxtaposed against each other as Haiti moves from one ruler to another.
One thing that affects the main character and others throughout is the constant oppression that forces them to work for slavers and the new king. Even though the country is going through upheaval and revolution, it doesn't stop the weight on the characters. Ti Noel is enslaved multiple times so even though the lot of many changes, his never does. Carpentier writes,
"The old man began to lose heart at this endless return of chains, this rebirth of shackles, this proliferation of suffering, which the more resigned began to accept as proof of the uselessness of all revolt."
No matter how often the situation in Haiti is changed, things just get worse for Ti Noel and the people around him. Even when a black man becomes King, Ti Noel is forced to work for the cruel ruler. At one point, the king murders a monk who is later resurrected. Carpentier writes that Breille was murdered
"for the crime of having wanted to go to France knowing all the secrets of the King."
He eventually appears again, despite being a man "whose death and decay were known to all." After this appearance paralyzes King Christophe, the king's life is sent on a downward spiral until he kills himself. Despite the hope that the...
(The entire section contains 639 words.)
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