Agnus Dei Achieves Resolution
“The Kingdom of This World” by Alejo Carpentier is a critical piece of literary work, especially since it accounts for the Haitian Revolution. Nonetheless, its enduring values stem from its purpose, as a literary intervention in discourses dealing with Western Enlightenment. In the book, Carpentier employs the form of Magical Realism to depict the Haitian Revolution via the view of a clearly Latin American sensibility. The book focuses on figures that were previously hidden in Western historical stores and shuns the enlightenment point of view, commonly used in those stories and gives different definitions of reality and truth. The final chapter of the book, “Agnus Dei”, achieves a resolution of the different threads and elements that constitute the novel by ascertaining the importance of mythical beliefs and power of religion, among other aspects. The name “Agnus Dei” refers to a specific disc of wax that has a figure of a lamb. It is usually viewed as blessed, especially amongst the Catholics. The faithful can put on the “Agnus Dei” round the neck, or preserve them as items of devotion (Carpentier 175). They are taken to be Sacramentals, which are holy and spiritual. In the same sense, the entire book looks at aspects like the Voodoo religion, mythical realism and the Haitian revolution in regards to faith and belief.
The final chapter, to start with, achieves the first resolution by depicting magical realism. The book uses this style of writing. The term, magical realism, which was invented during the 1920s, was reserved for painters who depicted reality in a novel way. The tern “magical realism” was used to illustrate literature of Latin America, especially during the 1960s. Some critics state that the term distinguishes Latin American novels from English-written and European novels. The term is a blend of reality and magic, which is opposite to Social Realism.
Other authors who can be associated with Magical Realism are Juan Rulfo, Miguel Angel Asturias and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Magical Realism has been used to curve the original national identity (Cooper 35). In the first chapters of Carpentier’s book, he states that magical realism describes a successful way of viewing the history of Latin America. A writer employing magical realism attempts to make magic real. In these types of work, native and well known beliefs are depicted as true and not foreign knowledge, which was seen to be implausible folklore. The writer attempts to bring past events to real life, and force audience to comprehend that past is always critical part of human history. Magical realism can be used to clarify the national identities of an individual in a distinct way (Faris 71). In essence, magical realism attempts to depict the popular beliefs more than just mere bookish history. It is all about having faith in facts that might seem unbelievable, like those the Aztecs believed in, which make the writings be viewed as marvelous. It is a different way of looking at the past and current events. Without faith, the audience may never feel the magic in the texts.
The second instance when the last chapter achieves its resolution is through the way the text draws its value from the way it positions the Haitian populace at its ontological hub. Clearly, the novel shuns European History markers and reintroduces such values through Latin American point of view, thereby replacing Europe’s vision with that of the New World. The book interlaces concrete and real events with mythical beliefs, magic and rituals of African slaves. For instance, a character known as Macandal, a voodoo priest tried to instigate a rebellion. He has massive abilities to change some times into a lizard, a gannet or a night moth. When he is caught, and he is about face his demise, he attempts to escape by use of supernatural powers; he howls incomprehensible phrases (Carpentier 31). These powers are believed to be in the Agnus Dei.
On another level, the last chapter of the book achieves its resolution in the way it depicts belief in a higher power - the voodoo. Carpenter builds the novel, not only on Haiti’s revolution, but also on the belief of Voodoo powers. In fact, the revolution was successful due to French Plantation owners’ failure to understand the power of these beliefs. While the colonists prayed to their God, they failed to comprehend the power of unity in the voodoo beliefs. All the slaves believed in the power of the Voodoo; therefore, they expected certain results from its practices. These expectations and beliefs swept away the fear of the whites. In Macandal’s authority, the slaves distributed the poison they believed decimated the colonialists. The colonialists, instead of understanding the slaves, became paranoid and vented out their anger on the slaves until the situation worsened. As a counter measure, the colonialists gathered all slaves to witness the death of their hero, Macandal. However, the slaves’ belief in the Voodoo could not demoralize them; they saw their hero’s spirit rise again and enter the sea. Macandal’s death and actions paved the way for Bouckman and the revolution that finally freed all the slaves. This secret religion is what uplifted the slaves. Carpentier’s book shows the white’s belief that the voodoo is powerless. Nonetheless, Pauline Bonaparte is the only white who embraces and tries to understand the power behind the Voodoo religion.
Despite the magical events and myths viewed as being authentic in Carpentier’s piece of work, he approached the topic differently from other writers, like Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Tusa 145). Carpentier attempts to paint a picture of the chaotic history of Latin America and the continent’s cultural mix, a mixture of magical and pragmatic, European and non-European cultures and norms that existed in the setting. This form of realism is what differentiates Carpentier’s form of realism from Marquez’s. Nonetheless, both have used magical realism to survey the impact of slavery from a different point of view: African-American. The significant of Carpentier’s use of Vodoun in mounting regional sensibility cannot be overlooked. It is evident in the text with the analysis of Ti Noel’s experiences. The analysis points out the critical role played by the Vodoun in giving the community an identity, as well as, Carpentier’s use of a distinct historic lens to reposition the hub of meaning to Latin America. After the revolution, the story shifts to Cuba. This depicts the challenges in the Western view of historical narratives (Patterson 145). Such a scene shows the bankruptcy in the European forms and values.
One could also depict the last chapter’s resolution in the way it shows enlightenment. Much like other European Revolutions, the Haitian Revolution, was based on novel ideas that confronted traditional norms and traditions. Educated people, especially in France, became conscious of the treatments the slaves were experiencing in the west. Many people, especially writers, worked to change the view of the people. They aimed at changing the negative views people harbored towards slavery. They attempted to paint slaves as forgotten and tragic heroes. This trend was instrumental because it started a drift towards sentimentalism. Anti-slavery views and movements spread throughout the European continent. Slaves were enlightened about these novel humanitarian ways. Consequently, they started revolting against their white owners in the West. Pauline; Bonaparte Napoleon’s relative was moved by this issue of slavery. This proves that the educated can also go back to rectify their historical blunders.
In conclusion, Carpentier’s use of communal consciousness, mythical instances, and spectral voice allows him to critique the European version of truths and narratives, which underpinned the colonial movement. It also allows him, via the last chapter, to illustrate on the resolution of the many elements that resonate throughout the book. Characters like Ti Noel and Macandal uses explain these aspects fully. Each of them depicts the spiritual and social elements that make up such identity, and thus serve to shine light on the significant work undertaken by Carpentier. Through such transformation and appropriation, Carpentier employs the use of magical realism in a unique way that captured a distinct American reality. Regionalism, syncretism and the recovery of African roots continue as main topics of contention in the aftermath of decolonization. Any further attempt to comprehend the populace of Latin America has to dwell on the issues discussed above.
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