Themes Is Wine of Astonishment

Topics: Trinidad and Tobago, Spiritual Baptist, Baptist Pages: 8 (2114 words) Published: October 2, 2012
The Wine of Astonishment - LITERATURE NOTES

* Born in Toco, Trinidad
* Born in 1935
* Spent most of his early years with his maternal grandparents in Tobago * He was an avid reader
* He currently lives in Trinidad and Tobago
* His passions in life are cricket and football


*  While God’s are Falling, 1964
* The Schoolmaster, 1968
* The Dragon Can’t Dance, 1978
* The Wine of Astonishment, 1982
* Jestina’s Calypso and Other Stories, 1984
* Growing in the Dark, 2003
* Is Just a Movie, due for publication in August 2010 on

The book is about Eva and Bee Dorcas, members of the Spiritual Baptist Church. It is about their experiences of being persecuted for their religious affiliation and the faith that they have in Ivan Morton to change their situation. The character Bolo is also at the forefront of this story because he embodies the result of not being able to be a man in a society that does not view being Black as valuable.

Time / Place:

* The story is set over a 20 year time period, 1932 – 1951 * Set in a small, remote village in Trinidad called Bonasse Political structure:

* Trinidad was still a colony under the British Empire
* Trinidad was ruled under the Crown Colony system – Head of State in England governed the island via the Governor, who was his or her representative * Political power, therefore, lay in the governor, assisted by a Council * Universal adult suffrage (right of all adults to vote) did not occur to Trinidad until 1946. * Power still lay in the hands of those who owned plantations and these people, in turn, controlled the instruments of power; the legislature, the courts and the police. Economy:

* The economy was still predominantly agricultural; sugar, cocoa, coffee, coconuts and citrus. * The petroleum industry was just beginning to make an impact.  * Subsistence farming (production of foodstuff for domestic use) was the norm * World War II led to the establishment of American bases, which introduced opportunity to earn money * WW II also introduced a consumer attitude to life in Bonasse  Social structure:

* Trinidad boasted a very diverse Creole society populated by a variety of ethnic groups (Indian, Black, Chinese, White), each with its own cultural and religious practices. * Trinidad was still a series of small villages connected by a network of tiny roads, hence, travel between villages was infrequent Religion:

* The protagonists in the novel are Spiritual Baptists/ Shouter Baptists * This religion arose out of a fusion of Protestant Christianity and African Orisha elements * The religion was outlawed in 1917 on the grounds that they disturbed the peace with their bell ringing, loud singing and highly expressive behavior during worship. *  See video clip of Spiritual Baptist in Grenada at the bottom of this page. 

Eva Dorcas:

* The wife of Bee Dorcas and mother to 5 children
* She is the emotional support for her husband
* She is a strong Christian
* The story is told through her eyes (1st person narrator) * She is patient and long suffering
Bee Dorcas:

* Eva’s husband and father of her 5 children
* Pastor of the Shouter Baptist church in the text
* He is a strong Christian
* He is considered to be the pillar of the community
* He is very wise, patient and long suffering
* He is very persistent, as seen in his lobbying for Ivan Morton * Shoulders his responsibilities well and does not view them as a burden Bolo:

* Local stick fighting champion
* Initially beloved and admired by the community, seen as a hero/warrior figure * Was imprisoned for 3 years for defending his mother, and the church, during a police raid of the Shouter Baptist church * Later becomes the terror of the community because of how he bullied every-one...
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