Analysis of Like the Night by Alejo Carpentier

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The West's Colonial Discourse and The Psychoanalytic
Diagnosis Of The Westerner In Like The Night

Ezzoubeir Jabrane.
Professor Bourara.
Cultural Encounters and Representation
16 March 2013

The West's Colonial Discourse and The Psychoanalytic
Diagnosis Of The Westerner In Like The Night

Like The Night, Alejo Carpentier's short story contributes to the rich arena of post-colonialism. It essentially deals with the colonial discourse and the Westerner's psychic interaction with this discourse. Through an allegorical representation of the Westerners as a solder, The writer uncovers the West's debased and disfigured conceptions of the Other on the one hand, and highlights the effect that these conceptions on the westerner's psychology. The story also covers important post-colonialism related themes like the egocentrism of the Western individual, the ethnocentrism of the Wester community, the conception of women in the West as a patriarchal society, and war propaganda in the West as a democratic society. In this critical analysis of the Like The Night, I circumstantially deal with the two major themes. The first is the West and its colonial discourse. In this part, I interpret the social and political implications of the story, That is the protagonist's percept of the self in relation to the other and the other sex in his society, the protagonist's vision of the other race, and the political discourse that emerges in the circumstances of the war. The second part is a minute examination of the protagonist at the psychological level. To wit, I expose the different components of the Protagonist's psyche and reveal the psychic reaction to the colonial discourse that he participates in forging and spreading. However, Prior to that I dissect other aspects of the story, particularly the narrative structure and the notion of time, to facilitate the access and the understanding of the story as such. In Like The Night, the narrative technique employed is the first-person narration. The narrator is the main character who is reporting his experience of a solder in the army of the Greek. He starts by a description of the preparatory events of the war waged against the Trojans. Throughout the story, the narrator commits many analytic errors and uncovers hideous aspects of his personality that make us, as readers, distance ourselves from his perspective and start questioning his reliability. The first mistake committed by the narrator is separating himself from the rest of his community. His narcissism of a solder makes the reader somewhat loath his interpretation of the events and, thereby, decreases his dependability to a great extent. Other personality traits urge us to completely split from his view-point and rely unilaterally on our own interpretations. The traits are chiefly his racism, sexism, and hypocrisy. Time in the story is of special significance in Alejo Carpentier's Like The Night. The story takes one day: begins with the preparation of the Greeks' war against the Trojans and ends soon after the departure to it. However, the story embraces many events and discusses many issues that are as remote and disconnected historical contexts as Foulke de Neuilly's crusade, Montaigne's Essays, and the Great Landing. This rebellion on time's most central characteristic, sequence, destroys the notion of time itself and leave us with Timelessness. This fictional device is brilliantly employed to refer to the feature that unifies the wholeness of the Western history: the irrational perception of the other as inferior to the self. The protagonist, in regards to his percept of the other sex, is chauvinistic par excellence. He perceives women as an important element in society, but their importance lies strictly in their function of entertaining man. The word 'body' recurs repeatedly in the story always in association with a female. Thus, for him his mistress does not go beyond being a body that was created for his own...
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