Middle Passage | Analysis of Charles Johnson Middle Passage
The researcher’s main finding is that Charles Johnson’s novel Middle Passage is the study of the slave narration and their disillusionment; and consciousness which is drawn from the real image of nineteenth century. Johnson reminds us of historical operation the African American reality.
Johnson presents Rutherford Calhoun as a writer and creator of fiction who narrates the whole events through monologue, which posses many truths. He presents the reality of freedom, slavery and contemporary stratus of African American people in the form of which collects the history of subaltern consciousness of slave the slaves. He has presented Allmuseri tribe to represent the endemic quality of inter subjective. A problematic situation here in the novel seems of the Allmuseri and exposes their lacks of ‘unity of being’ and complications of African-American experience.
Johnson’s fiction shows the homage to the picaresque about sea travel, human nature and self discovery in a riveting and thrilling way. This detailed, historically precise and phase of the trans-atlantics slave trade and on the adventures of ex-salve, is in an advertent. He also presents an unwilling participant in the enslaving of the Allmuseri tribe. He had given the fictional date of the year 1830; to make the fiction seems to be real. The story is presented through the protagonist of the novel Rutherford Calhoun, recently freed slave, who is in the voyage.
In the novel Allmuseri tribe has been presented as the subaltern group, marginalized group and is shown in the positive way. They didn’t eat meat and were easy to feed. They didn’t like property. They were so simple to wear cloth. They required no medicine. They seldom fight and steal things. They feel so sick if they wronged anyone. These all characteristic of Allmuseri have clearly proved that they were so simple and loving creature. But the reality and culture of Allmuseri have already been abducted and were taken to make slave of their master.
The novel opens with Calhoun playing the role of the freeman being enslaved after being set free. Calhoun presented the time situation of June 14, 1830 upto August 20, 1830: as the time period of the novel starting and its ending. When the novel ends with Calhoun’s freedom, we can find the psychic consequences of slavery. From Calhoun’s role we can assume that neither of us are freeman nor can we get rid of it. Calhoun came from Illinois form in search of freedom at New Orleans but can’t get there and ran to the republic for new life of freedom by his own will. When the novel ends he seems to be free but is again in bond of marriage with Isadora and as a father of Baleka. But Calhoun is ready to establish his existence, struggling with the problems.
Johnson focuses on slavery, psychological notion and about the subaltern consciousness. During the course of middle passage, Rutherford Calhoun discovers several things about cultures and dignity, about disillusionment of himself and the other character.
The Allmuseri tribe is presented as humble, passive and ignorant. They are being chained and are being dislocated from their homeland. They are treated cruelly by the chip crew and the captain. But also they remain passive. They lack unity of being. Calhoun plays the vital role for them (slaves) to make conscious. When subaltern group that was subordinate to a dominant group revote against them, they gained power and eventually became the new dominant group. In the novel Diamelo was presented as signifier of a new dominant group after their revolution. He ordered the member of the crew to follow the Allmuseri language, culture etc.
As for Spivak, “representation and organization are key to subalternity and once they are achieved, the subaltern cease to be subaltern” (Spivak). The novel seems to be modern one which optimistically portrays the picture of marginal/subaltern/ suppressed voice that will be ultimately raised because of their conscious or the disillusionment inherent in them from many experience and got its position in the mainstream.
Johnson focuses on slavery and reconsideration of slave narrative, shows the physical subjugation. The slave narration is implied understanding on the part that the narrator is free but physically he is damaged. Since he has a sense of subjectivity, he will be free slavery great in the presentation of the Allmuseri we witness a kind of cultural enslavement, Allmuseri do not respect another culture and another slavery. Calhoun also realizes at the ending part of the novel that he has changed his seeing; made him cultural mongrel and felt no need to posses or dominate after the voyage. He has lost to control because he has gained experience with the Allmuseri.
Calhoun postmodern quest is meaningful, based on the tradition. Rutherford Calhoun learns that the activities of the theft have limited use in dismantling the power of the properties class during the course of middle passage. So, he compares his love as a typical subject matter not a dangerous thing.
Calhoun makes clear that after so many adventures that he is interested to knit the future relationship with Isadora not the flesh but their prefect historical twined for all time. This is said by Calhoun when Isadora drifted towards rest. She would remain al night while they forget themselves. He gently crossed the flood and countless seas of suffering. This awareness of all human suffering is recognition not of one slave’s fight (of consciousness) but the fight (of subaltern consciousness) of all oppressed and suffering people. They have deep understanding. They are co-operating indirectly and we get this from the denouement of this novel.
Johnson rewrites the slave history of 1830 that was true. By fictionalizing the slave history of Allmuseri, he has tried to search the minor events of day by day life. He has used the real subject matter through the experience of Rutherford Calhoun, who narrates the whole events from his experience. Rutherford narrates the events of the nineteenth century traveling through Illinois farm to New Orleans, New Orleans to the ship republic and from the republic to the ship Juno, focusing on the subject matter of freedom, slavery, identity crisis, disillusionment and the consciousness gained by the slave (subaltern). By showing these ideas in the Middle Passage, Johnson presents it as a document of subaltern consciousness.
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