Dream on Monkey Mountain- Post Colonialism vs Post Slavery

I presented on Derek Walcott’s “Dream on Monkey Mountain” and paired it with “Chapter VI: Of the Training of Black Men” from The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B Du Bois. The main focus of my discussion was on the close parallels between the conditions and treatment of black people post slavery and post-colonialism. Du Bois discusses the black man’s attempt to reclaim humanity and readjust to life after slavery in America, whereas Walcott’s play addresses the struggles of the black man in a post-colonial context of a West Indian Island. There was a lot of material in “Monkey Mountain”, for various kinds of discussions, so I ended up adding some material that some of you may (or may not) find useful. I hope that the way I structure this is comprehensible.

“Teaching” the Black Man- Post Colonialism vs Post Slavery

Black men as Animals

The second thought streaming from the death-ship and the curving river is the thought of the older South,—the sincere and passionate belief that somewhere between men and cattle, God created a tertium quid, and called it a Negro,—a clownish, simple creature, at times even lovable within its limitations, but straitly foreordained to walk within the Veil. To be sure, behind the thought lurks the afterthought,—some of them with favoring chance might become men, but in sheer self-defence we dare not let them, and we build about them walls so high, and hang between them and the light a veil so thick, that they shall not even think of breaking through (Du Bois, paragraph 2).

Connect with many of Corporal’s statements about race (mimics white racist point of view)

Racial prejudice



In the beginning was the ape… (Walcott 216-217)

Corporal treats Makak like an animal (Walcott 221-224)

Internalized Racism: Lack of self worth

So here we stand among thoughts of human unity, even through conquest and slavery; the inferiority of black men, even if forced by fraud; a shriek in the night for the freedom of men who themselves are not yet sure of their right to demand it. This is the tangle of thought and afterthought wherein we are called to solve the problem of training men for life (Du Bois, paragraph 4).


You black, ugly, poor, so you worse than nothing… (Walcott 237)


Pray for the day when poverty done, and for when niggers everywhere could walk upright like men (Walcott 254)


I jeered thee because I hated half of myself, my eclipse (Walcott 299)

Collective racist consciousness

Again, we may decry the color-prejudice of the South, yet it remains a heavy fact. Such curious kinks of the human mind exist and must be reckoned with soberly. They cannot be laughed away, nor always successfully stormed at, nor easily abolished by act of legislature. And yet they must not be encouraged by being let alone. They must be recognized as facts, but unpleasant facts; things that stand in the way of civilization and religion and common decency. They can be met in but one way,—by the breadth and broadening of human reason, by catholicity of taste and culture. And so, too, the native ambition and aspiration of men, even though they be black, backward, and ungraceful, must not lightly be dealt with. To stimulate wildly weak and untrained minds is to play with mighty fires; to flout their striving idly is to welcome a harvest of brutish crime and shameless lethargy in our very laps. The guiding of thought and the deft coördination of deed is at once the path of honor and humanity (Du Bois, paragraph 6).


What power can crawl on the bottom of the sea, or swim in the ocean of air above us? The mind, the mind (Walcott 291).

Unnatural Narrative

Basil -cabin maker becomes a manifestation of the figure of death

Moustique dies and is apparently raised from the dead


Makak doesn’t know who he is in the beginning (journey to selfhood through dreamworld- subconscious) (Walcott 219)

Moustique pretends to be Makak

Marxist theory

Political and economic struggle

“Even tribal justice” (Walcott 315)
In the midst, then, of the larger problem of Negro education sprang up the more practical question of work, the inevitable economic quandary that faces a people in the transition from slavery to freedom, and especially those who make that change amid hate and prejudice, lawlessness and ruthless competition (Du Bois; end of paragraph 9).

Dream theory

Ishiguro’s Buried Giant 

Page 235 “the mist” and mind

“swallowed up” by the mist (Walcott 326)

Madness/ Hysteria

Poe’s “Tell Tale Heart”

“Listen to me, I am not mad…” (Walcott 236)

Feminist Theory

Limited female characters

Stereotypical roles

Gossiping in scene 3

Sexualized? (Woman who appears to Makak)

“Diablesse”- female devil (Walcott 236)


N/B- Professor pointed out A Midsummer Night’s Dream -blurred lines between dream and reality.


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