What Extent Would You Agree with This Statement ?

April 17, 2017 General Studies

Le c?ur a rire et a pleurer by Maryse Conde is unquestionably a text in which the author subtly alludes to slavery several times; in fact, I believe that the notion that it ???haunts??™ the text is a very appropriate description. Plainly, Conde doesn??™t seem to wish to mention slavery by name very often in the text. However, it is evident that in her memoir she is very aware of the undeniably negative effect that slavery and its respective legacy had on several of the most memorable events of her childhood while growing up in Guadeloupe. Incontrovertibly, Conde refers to it often enough for slavery to be able to be classed as one of the major themes which manifests in the text.
This somewhat cautious referral to slavery can primarily be seen through the racism against black people which is still shown in Guadeloupe during her described childhood. Even though the final Slavery Abolition Act was passed in 1838 , the racism associated with it still existed in the 1930s when Maryse Conde was born and started to grow up.
One example of this is in part ten of her memoir, ???The Loveliest Woman in the World.??™ There is an evident racial hierarchy which exists in the Cathedral, shown by Conde??™s statement : ?« Je ne pouvais m??™empecher de remarquer combien elles etaient rares, les figures noires ou simplement colorees dans la nef centrale de la cathedrale sous la carene renversee de la voute. ?» (pp. 90) This demonstrates that race was still a very significant factor in determining the importance of certain people. This goes to show that slavery does indeed ???haunt??™ the text, as black people were still being treated in an unfair manner which made them seem inferior to white people; even though slavery was very much in the past at the time of Conde??™s childhood.
Conde also reiterates a Guadeloupian nursery rhyme which is very much self-degrading for black people to sing as it embodies the wish to be white instead of black; indeed, Maryse Conde calls those who sang it, including herself, naive:
Une negresse qui buvait du lait
Ah, se dit-elle, si je le pouvais
Tremper ma figure dans un bol de lait
Je deviendrais plus blanche
Que tous les Francais
Ais-ais-ais! (pp. 90)
The fact that those coloured people in Guadeloupe wished so much to be white that even their children sang it in their nursery rhymes shows that being black was still not ideal when Conde was growing up. This of course has direct connotations to slavery, in that black people were still being discriminated against and white people were seen as the ???superior??™ race.
This is again highlighted in the same chapter, when Conde carelessly describes the beautiful white lady, Amelie Linsseuil, to her very proud-to-be-black mother: ?« C??™est, repondis-je avec emportement, tout a ma passion, parce que je trouve Amelie la plus belle personne que j??™ai jamais vue… C??™est mon ideal de beaute! ?» (pp. 92-93)


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