Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Who is the colonizer and who is the native?

One of the main themes of Sons for the Return Home is this tension between the colonizers and the natives.  We briefly discussed last class, Grace’s “Sky People” and her warning that the oppressed should not become oppressors in the process of decolonization.  In the second half of the novel, this theme is most present when the man visits Apia and he notes that “money and the quality of a person’s English were two of the town’s peculiar ways of estimating status” (195 Wendt).  In this scene, there is an issue of classism as the receptionist assumes he is uneducated and wants a free meal.  The city-dwellers are prejudiced against the rural Samoans assuming that they are poor and untrustworthy.  After discussing Grace’s warning, this scene is most surprising that the oppressed are somewhat oppressing their own people.  The Samoans who are the victims of racism throughout the novel are willing to victimize other Samoans based on class.  In this case, the receptionist was not advocating for decolonization as Grace discusses, but she is perpetuating the effects of negative effects of colonization on Samoa further.  Now, not only does racism exist abroad for the Pacific people, but their own country internalizes classism, another system of oppression, in this scene between the rural and urban communities. 
            Up until this point, all of our novels have been relatively clear on who is the colonizer and who are the natives; who is being oppressive and who is being oppressed.  Things Fall Apart and Potiki both make clear that the white man is the colonizer.  In this scene between the two Samoans, the oppressor and the oppressed becomes blurred for one of the first times in our course of reading.  Similar to how we said anyone of any race can be racist, it is evident that anyone can be the oppressor and the oppressed, in this case, simultaneously.         

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