As we set out to list ‘first contacts’ in our last class, it seemed inevitable that Zamora was the most prevalent name, (dare I say character?) and also the most frequently ‘priveleged’ individual in each pair on our list.  Indeed, if we scrutinize all these characters closely, we see that if not for the novel’s focus on Zamora we might not have met any of these characters: most obviously there is the Taobo tribe, but moreso, Rizalina, who enters this story on her trip to visit her mother working for Zamora; Kenneth Forbes; Dee Dee; the President and his nephew; and then of course there is the rest of the household, including Ilse and Sputnik and everyone else.  When Thomas Docherty says ‘ If humanity is always and everywhere the same, traditional and non-secular rather than the geographically and historically culture-specific, a justification is provided for the excesses of imperialism: in principle, the oppressed is being ‘enlightened’, granted a position in the social formation of the colonialist, who of course assumes his own ‘enlightenment’, and enlightenment supposedly guaranteed by a rationalist epistemology and a traditionalist antiquarianism,’ he is of course, outlining how postmodernism breaks this mold, allowing for characters to revel in the difference, to come to light out of their own inherent importance and not merely the attention of colonialists.  Needless to say, after the first part of Dream Jungle, this does not seem to be the case.  With Zamora being the pivotal character, the one with the most gravitational pull in the narrative, we see again that characters are ‘enlightened’ only insofar as they are useful to or are entangled with Zamaro.  The bringing to life of marginal characters so often found in postmodernity is surely at work here, but under whose discretion?  As Prof. Sample says, we might never have met Rizalina had she not been the daughter of Candeleria, a servant of Zamora’s.   As I’ve mentioned, the same goes for the other characters.  Is Jessica H. satirizing this traditional method?  I’ve yet to see any blatant subversion of this convention.  Instead, I’m seeing a strong subversion of Docherty’s premise that characters are no longer constructs and instead are personalities.  Though these characters are conflicted portraits (Rizalina being remarkably intelligent; the Taobo’s being a far more civilized and family oriented society than ‘colonialist’ portrayals might allow) they are nonetheless only tools which are used to focus our attention on Zamora and bring to light his own conflicts, such as his insecurity, father issues, and dysfunctional family.  These characters serve his interests in the novel as much as his father’s colonial subjects served his, though in the former case, strictly confined to their serving the narrative propulsion.  We see signs that Zamora is not so enlightened as the imperialists were, perhaps, in earlier ‘drawing room’ novels, and we are inclined to expect more calumniating revelations concerning his life and his loves, but as of the first part, we no-a see dis.  Docherty goes on to point out in classical novelistic constructions, the setting and the characters are much larger ideological and national allegories.  Can Jessica do justice to life on the Phillipines without portraying their subserivence to a colonialist buisness man?  Unfortuantely, I do not believe she could.  Perhaps the age of allegorical characters and setting is not entirely on the wane as Docherty suggests, or perhaps Jessica will verify his claims later on in the novel and portray her characters freewheeling away from the centrifugal force of Zamora, existing and subsisting entirely of their own varied and uncontainable personalities.  We can only wait with bated breath.


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    Professor Sample says:

    You make some provocative suggestions here. I wonder how the 2nd half of the novel — “Napalm Sunset” — deals with the gravitational pull of Zamora. He is is notably absent, and not even lurking in the margins. Do you think he’s been replaced? Or that the narrative functions he served in part one have been replaced by someone else? Tony Pierce maybe? Mayor Fritz? Who is at the center of the centrifuge during the making of this movie?

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