Fola Piggott, a strong heroine, has been compared by many critics to Bita Plant, featured in Claude McKay’s Banana Bottom (1933). Not quite eighteen years old when the novel opens, Fola changes from an obedient young girl to a rebellious, and then finally independent, young woman, paralleling the changes in San Cristobal during its emergence from colony to republic. Fola, through her attendance at the Ceremony of Souls, begins her backward glance at her own past and that of her culture. When she decides that she is Fola and “other than Fola,” she starts her exploration into her roots. “Other than Fola” is the name she privately gives herself in order to become an independent woman who is no longer bound by upper-middle-class values. Other than Fola is the person who longs to understand the past.
Her mother’s marriage to Piggott and her parents’ desire for upward mobility have provided her with a past based on British ruling-class standards. Her rejection of her family also signals her rejection of their values.
The two artist figures, Gort and Chiki, play important roles in the novel. Gort, a drummer, is a folk artist whose art is directly inspired by the peasant community of the Forest Reserve. Chiki, a painter, first provides a political perspective on the role of the artist in a changing society. By the end of the novel, both artist figures make the connection between art and politics, and both become artists who are...
(The entire section is 551 words.)