Lwati: A Journal of Contemporary Research

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Terrorism or heroism? The potrait of the rebel in French Caribbean novels

Zana I Akpagu


The portrait of the rebel character in French Caribbean fiction is often ambivalent: a hero or a terrorist. To the slavemaster/colonizer, the rebel is a convulsive and heinous fugitive, a tameless outlaw, a frenetic and impetuous nihilist or anarchist, a homicidal maniac, a bloody assassin, in one word, a terrorist. To his fellow slaves/colonized, the rebel is an object of intense, idealizing admiration for his bravery, valour, resoluteness, self-sacrifice, nationalism and civism. In short, he is a hero. Examples of the dissenting figures are: Edouard Gilssant's primordial marron, Longoué, Thaël, Beautemps, Aa-a, Dlan, Medelus and Silacier; Salvat Etchart's Galba; Bertène Juminer's Modestin; Joseph Zobel's Jojo… the list is long. The aim of this paper is to x-ray these marverick personages in the novels while attempting a psychoanalysis of their attitudinal patterns and reasons behind their strategies. The paper notes that in conducting their opposition, the rebels cause fear by engaging in some tigerish guerrilla activities and strong-arm tactics akin to those of terrorists; on the other hand, the slavers or colonial authorities maintain their domination through methods that arouse terror. Who then is the terrorist?

Lwati: A Journal of Contemporary Research Vol. 2 2005: 53-70

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