Discussing The Colonized Violence Struggles English Literature Essay

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The response seems to discuss the violence that is an integral part of any colonial struggle, but I think you should be a little more focused on what the psychological effect of whether or not violence can change the psychological damage that the colonialism has already inflicted.

Fanon spends multiple pages discussing the balance between necessary and excessive violence in the book. In a response about violence you could consider including this. This would add more depth to your paper. A quote you could include about this specific topic is on pg 3.

I think it would be a good idea to mention that Fanon was a psychiatrist if you decide to discuss the psychological effects of colonialism and violence. You sort of did this in your second body paragraph but I think it can be expanded upon to discuss the decrease in nationalism that colonialism causes.

Overakk I think this is a focused response to violence and colonialism that is expanded on slightly could make a really great revised essay.


In the intellectual history course Black Thought in the Francophone World my class discussed many themes involving Diaspora, decolonization, nationalism, race, sexuality, gender, violence, and revolution. The books we read for this half of the semester, Black Skin, White Mask, Wretched of the Earth, and Who Slashed Celanire's Throat?, raised many of these issues, but focused on national identity, race, power, decolonization, and violence. In my responses I hoped to reflect on the themes of power and violence, and how they led to decolonization.

The Revised essay from the beginning of the year touches upon the Haitian Revolution, which deals with some of the same issues that Fanon discusses in Wretched of the Earth and in his first novel Black Skin, White Mask. My Revised essay of Wretched of the Earth, really touches upon the subject of violence and decolonization well. In my response to Fanon's Black Skin White Mask, I really wanted it to be a reflection of Fanon's view of how the colonized blacks lost their sense of self. My response also commentated to Aime Cesaire's (Fanon's Teacher) ideas presented in a Discourse on Colonialism; a book we also read this semester. In my final response to Conde's Who Slashed Celanire's Throat?, I discussed the relationship between Celanire and the Algerian women in the movie "Battle of Algiers" and how both Celanire and the Algerian women use unconventional methods to attain power.

After reading through my portfolio, one should come away with a deep understanding of the relationship between the colonized and the colonists.

Wretched of the Earth Response

Frantz Fanon (1925-1961) born in Martinique into a lower middle class family of mixed race ancestry and receiving a conventional colonial education sees the means and technologies of control as being the white colonists. One would think because of his mixed ancestry that he would seek to assimilate the two cultures. However, in his first book, Black Skin, White Mask (1952), he shatters his neo-colonial identity, his own white mask. Fanon originally titled the essay "An Essay for the Disalienation of Blacks." In it Fanon takes the point of view from an outsider, and defines the colonial relationship. He describes the relationship as one of non recognition of the colonized people's basic civil rights and humanity by the colonizer in order to justify his oppressing ways. He takes the view of an outside Fanon's next novel, The Wretched Of The Earth (1961) views the colonized world from the perspective of the colonized. Fanon presents an outline based on medical as well as sociological evidence, for the abolition of white colonial rule. The book lays out a clear blueprint for revolution and considers all of its potential vconsequences, for rebel and colonialist alike.(http://english.emory.edu/Bahri/Fanon.html - a historical documentation of the impact of Fanon's novels)

Fanon has a completely different approach to relieve black man's struggle than that of the non violent approach of contemporary Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In his opening chapter, Concerning Violence, first draws a fine line between unnecessary and necessary violence. Fanon states, "You do not disorganize a society, however primitive it may be, with such an agenda if you are not determined from the very start to smash every obstacle encountered" (3). But later, Fanon asserts that decolonization is always a violent struggle and those who would undertake it must be prepared to get and keep the upper hand. Frantz Fanon does not endorse violence actions, however, he describes the act of colonization as one class of human beings, in this case the whites colonists, subjugating another population of people as pure violence. Thus the process of decolonization, "reeks of red-hot cannonballs and bloody knives"(Fanon, 3). Fanon takes the position that violence has to be associated with Revolution and Decolonization. An example of this would be the Algerian War, a historical event that Fanon is very familiar with. In fact, his novel Wretched of the Earth is based on the Algerian War with the French colonists.

Pre-Algerian War of Independence, the African nation of Algeria was a colony of France. Behind closed doors; the French were extremely oppressive, forcing upon the Algerians the French language and culture. The French were violent and tyrannical and the Algerians had enough. In 1954, a group of common people started to rebel. At first there were just boycotts, and then as the Algerians began to unify and taste the essence of freedom, their actions became more radical. They started to emulate the French violent ways. The Algerians started an all out war, bombing French stores and clubs. Eventually the French had enough and could not afford to risk the lives of more French soldiers or fund the colony anymore. The French surrendered in 1962 and Algeria attainted national independence. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Algerian_War)

Fanon experienced the Algerian War first hand on his trip to Africa. For Fanon this was a life-changing experience. Through the actions of Algerian people, Fanon learned that violence can be a unifying force that can undue colonization. Through violent actions, one can unify "this world by a radical decision to remove its heterogeneity by unifying on grounds of nation and sometimes race." (Fanon, 10)

Fanon discusses violence as a means of liberation and a release from subjugation. "At the individual level, violence is a cleansing force. It rids the colonized of their inferiority complex, of their passive and despairing attitude." (Fanon, 51) Fanon suggests that violence can embolden he spirits of the colonized. Through blazing passion, violence can revive a man's dignity and pride. Perhaps, for this cleansing experience, violence is something that the colonized can share with the colonizer. Fanon asserts that the act of violence is an indescribable force that is instilled an every man, colonists and colonized alike. Through violence, the colonized black can bring themselves up to a level of pride equal to that of the colonists. Necessary, contained, purposeful violence can be a process of colonization, thus that same violence can lead to decolonization.   

Throughout the book, Fanon questions the basic theories of colonialism through the eyes of the black colonized peoples. He questions whether violence is a tactic that should be employed to eliminate colonialism. However, through his questioning, Fanon exposes the methods of control the white world uses to hold down the colonies: violence. Thus the "civilized" approach suggested by MLK and other European humanists is flawed. This humanism notion of equality does not exist in the depths of European Colonies. Fanon exalts that the act of violence is one of the few necessary processes to gain an acceptable level of black consciousness.

Who Slashed Celanire's Throat?: Draft

Who Slashed Celanire's Throat?, by Maryse Conde is a gruesome tale of how to attain power through fear, similar to the colonists of France. Conde's novel also supports Fanon's notion that in order to break free of the colonized rule, or in this case find power, one must use unconventional methods of violence. Celanire is very similar to the women of the Algerian war. They both use their powers of seduction and ability to blend in order to create oppurtunities for destruction or revenge.

  Maryse Conde's novel, Who Slashed Celanire's Throat?, is the imaginative and lyrical story of Celanire, a mysterious Caribbean woman who survives abandonment as an infant and lives to seek to revenge. Conde's story narrative slowly reveals that the now seductive and dangerous Celanire had been cast into a trash heap with her throat slit - a failed human sacrifice.  Thus the rich scarves and elaborate choker necklaces she wears throughout the novel serve to hide the ugly evidence of the attack.  The novel has an abundance of adventure and intrigue as Celanire searches for her assailant. One by one, people surrounding her die off under strange circumstances (Monsieur Desrussie, the man she was intended to assist at the Home for Half Castes, dies upon her arrival in Adjame-Santey and she is hired as his successor). As the bodies pile up, the townspeople begin to suspect Celanire of being a "horse," or someone under the influence of a possessing spirit.

In the movie Battle of Algiers, Directed by Gillo Pontecorvo, is a 1966 war film reconstructs events that occurred during the Algerian War (1954-1962) in the capital of French Algeria. The Battle of Algiers touches upon the ruthless tactics of the Algerians against the French colonists, who were equally violent. One of the most violent and shocking fear tactics of the Algerians were committed by the women. The women, like Celanire, used unconventional methods of violence to instill fear in the people. In one of the climactic scenes of the movie, the Algerian women, who are very attractive and blend in with society, planted bombs in the French part of town. These women blew up a popular café, an icecream shop, and an airport. These extremely violent actions gave the women power; it gave their movement power. They inspired fear amongst the French civilians living in Algeria, giving them fair (bur a little bit uncalled for) warning that they are willing to do anything to attain freedom and power.

It is interesting to compare Celanire and the women of the Algerian war because of their similarities. Celanire will do what ever is necessary to achieve revenge. In a way Celanire is the embodiment of the Algerian women ideals. She personifies their willingness to do anything for their cause, even if it means the death of countless peoples.