The Wine of Astonishment

by Earl Lovelace

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Student Question

Why didn't Bolo like Corporal Prince in The Wine of Astonishment?

Quick answer:

Bolo did not like Corporal Prince because the character of Corporal Prince represents oppression, persecution, and injustice. Corporal Prince's character has no redeeming qualities. He is abusive, violent, and uses his position to oppress people. Moreover, Prince raided the church and further disenfranchised an already oppressed minority group.

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The short novel The Wine of Astonishment by Earl Lovelace is set in early-twentieth century Trinidad and Tobago and focuses on the struggles of a small community of Trinidadians from the city of Bonasse who were members of the Spiritual Baptist Church.

The problem of the story is that the government has been oppressing this community by obliterating their right to worship and preventing the people to worship as they are accustomed to. As a result, the people feel invalidated by the very government officials that they helped elect in hopes of getting help from them. Moreover, their church is raided, people are arrested, and those in the community who carried the voices of the people are humiliated and put in jail.

The issue of neocolonialism and power is most evident in the character of Corporal Prince. His character represents the established order. He is ordered specifically to control and oppress the members of the church. He represents oppression, brutality, and abuse because he is chasing down his own people without any remorse or empathy. He arrests Bolo, the community leader, raids the church, and embodies the abuse under which the people of Bonasse live every day. There are very little redeeming qualities in the character of Corporal Prince, which is why it would be easy for Bolo, and everyone else, not to like him.

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