Degradation and Transcendence

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Karim Debbagh 12/19/11
Professor McMorris
Degradation and Transcendence

Carnival is a public spectacle, a celebration in which people are uplifted from their daily struggles. A time where there are no degradations and transcendence occurs for all people. In Earl Lovelace’s Dragon Can’t Dance, characters such as Pariag, Sylvia, and Aldrick are shown with struggle, with degradations that they are trying to overcome. Each of these characters is facing different problems and is in search for different accomplishments. These characters are not satisfied with Carnival, with a temporary transcendence. They are going through this uphill battle of degradation to transcendence.

Calvary Hill is where the setting of Lovelace’s Dragon Can’t Dance takes place. It is an area where poverty is prevalent, where most people are struggling financially. In John Cowley’s Carnival, Canboulay and Calypso: Traditions in the Making, Cowley mentions that there was an economic depression in the Eastern Caribbean where poverty started growing at faster rates. The poor were made up of “stickmen, singers, drummers, dancers, prostitutes, bad johns…” (Cowley 72) who was all associated with being impoverished. During Carnival, they had “flaunted themselves to sustain their identity and draw attention to their plight in a society in which they were decried.”(Cowley 72) This group of people also called the diametre endured their degradation all year long and then during Carnival would feel wealthy in the sense of not stressing over their financial problems. They would express their temporary financial freedom through music, dance, and song. Calvary Hill is an area that symbolizes this uphill battle where the poor are in search for happiness. They do not want to have this odour of poverty, the “stankiness” in which they degrade, and go downhill. But many have different accomplishments, where they want to transcend in different ways. This is an example of a universal...
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