Presentation on theme: "Cereus Blooms At Night By Shani Mootoo. Outline Shani Mootoo Cereus Blooms at Night Flashback: Mala’s affection toward Ambrose Name—identity—memory Magic."— Presentation transcript:
Cereus Blooms At Night By Shani Mootoo
Outline Shani Mootoo Cereus Blooms at Night Flashback: Mala’s affection toward Ambrose Name—identity—memory Magic of Nature– frangipani, cereus Contradictory feeling The ending
Shani Mootoo born in Ireland in 1958 and raised in Trinidad. Moved to Canada at the age of 19. A skilled multimedia artist and filmmaker. Finally acknowledging and naming her experience of abuse prompted Mootoo to return to words, and write her first collection of short stories. Out on Main Street, published in 1993, is a collection of short stories. Cereus Blooms at Night, published in 1996, is her first novel.
Cereus Blooms at Night Cereus Blooms at Night, Shani Mootoo’s 1996 novel, is set in the town of Paradise on the imaginary Caribbean island Lantanacamara. Colonized by the “Shivering Northern Wetlands” (Vivian M. May 107) In setting the novel on a fictional, nonspecific Caribbean island, rather than on Trinidad where she grew up, Mootoo follows in the footsteps of other Caribbean women writers who have found a critical utility in crafting an imaginary space from which to remember identities and histories differently (Vivian M. May 107).
At the same time, by naming the town Paradise, and focusing much of the novel on the main character Mala’s walled garden within Paradise, Mootoo is clearly toying with cliches of the Caribbean as a lost Eden, a pastoral idyll (Vivian M. May 108). Thus the fact that much of the story takes place in a garden in the town of Paradise, with parks named such things as El Dorado, suggests a novel that is more allegorical in nature—a commentary on European exploration narratives and the role of science and botany in empire (Casteel 2003, 19, 22), a reflection on the politics of sexuality, and an analysis of exile, displacement, and diaspora.
Mala’s affection toward Ambrose Because of Ambrose, Mala sees hopes and bright side of life. (brightness in darkness) Once, when they were in high school... [Ambrose] left a note of his visit in the form of a stolen stalk of frangipani... She remember the frangipani was in unusually full bloom these days. It must have been an omen (210). frangipani is the sigh for her. Thinking of Ambrose makes her endure the painful life.
She slipped her tongue out of her mouth and licked the stew on her face. The taste of garlic and anise erased his smell. The stew was indeed well seasoned, perhaps the best she had ever cooked. She was pleased she had saved some back for Ambrose ( ). Looking forward his visits gave her the strength to endure her father’s night-time attacks (226). She thought privately of him... and of herself as the lady who would one day be rescued by him and revealed to all the world as a princess stolen by the commoners at birth (226).
Ambrose E. Mohanty stood like a man... For the first time in her life Mala felt like a woman, a feeling both thrilling and frightening. He had turned into an extraordinarily handsome man (212). Mala could not bear to look at him and call him Ambrose. She is unconfident to call his name, intending to keep a distance with him (a kind of respect to those superior people) for her, she is not as equal as Ambrose.
“Pohpoh, you must call me Ambrose. I am the same person you have known since we were children. Please accept my present” (213). “Not Mr. Ambrose. Ambrose alone is fine. You do know me. And I only brought it back for you because I hold you in the highest esteem and wanted to pay my respects to you in the spirit that—” (214) It is so touching that Ambrose had not changed his mind. He is still the boy, Boyie.
The present from Ambrose: a portable gramophone Does the gramophone connect something with Mala? She pressed her ear to the horn and smiled, filling once again with the feeling she had had watching her mother and Aunt Lavinia dance (225) memory about her mother and aunt dancing with the music. Gramophone record the voice as memory.
Magic of Nature Nature gives Mala hopes, power to face the cruel reality and makes her back to memory. She remember the frangipani was in unusually full bloom these days. It must have been an omen (210). Seeing the frangipani thinking of Ambrose feeling warm and sweet in memory. The frangipani representation of Ambrose
Even in the dark night she could see the brightness of the frangipani blossoms by the fence. Her anxiousness to see Ambrose surprised her (211). Natural magic: frangipani makes her think of Ambrose and back to the sweet feeling in her memory about Ambrose. Brightness in darkness, feeling warm hope in coldness.
Dizzying scent of cereus It was one of the brightest moonlit nights... she witnessed the slow dance of huge, white cereus buds... the moonlight reflected off the blossoms’ pure whiteness and cast a glow over the yard (144). Close to midnight the buds had opened fully. The smell in Mala’s yard drenched the air and flowed across town. Neighbours in deep sleep stirred, suddenly restless. Some were pried awake but were soon pleasantly besotted by the perfume and swept back into deep sleep (149).
Contradictory feeling Contradiction: her affection to tyrant father & terrible memory of childhood. Complicated feeling of her father and memory Tormented and confused by odd feelings of having betrayed for her father. After all, she thought, her father had suffered immeasurably when her mother left them. Think of Ambrose makes her feel she is cruel to her wounded father.
I ent go let nobody tief my woman. No man, no woman, no damn body go tief my property again. I go kill he, I go kill she, too, if it comes to that, I go kill meself, too (238). brutality, violence, patriarchy (chauvinism), self constructiveness strong self destructiveness that is the main reason why Mala worries about him. Though she hates what her father did to her and Asha, she cannot hate this man absolutely cos he is their father. It is a kind of complicated and contradictory relationship of father and daughter. She cannot separate herself from the relationship.
Chandin’s trauma: being colonized (attempt to forsake his essence to gain more or be equal as others) but finally found that his decision leads to the tragedy that he does not get more but losing his “highest esteem” thing. What’s worse, his legitimate woman finally eloped with his beloved woman. He seems to be betrayed by his wife, his beloved and the whole society. That is why he cannot bear to lose more.
“Asha? Aunt Lavinia? You there? Mama? Boyie?” she whispered (247). After Ambrose left, she whispered helplessly. Those people she called are from her memory they might be the origin of her feeling of warmth and sense of security. Though her childhood is not happy, those people who made her feel secure lets her recall them again when she is frustrated in reality. it is a kind of consolation for her to think of the memory of childhood.
Confusion of self recognition “You grow up here and you don’t realize almost everyone in this place wish they could be somebody or something else? That is the story of life...” (258) Not able to understand someone or to be understood by someone. “I does watch out over the banister and wonder if who I see is really what I see” (258). “self” is distorted by others. It is uncertain for people to understand it absolutely.
The ending Before our visitors arrive I wash her, mildly rubbing her skin with frangipani petals from Mr. Hector’s hedge and pay special attention in dressing her (267). On visiting days she wears a garland of snail shells about her neck or a crown of wreaths that we wove with feathers and the wings of expired insects (267).
Works Cited Mootoo, Shani. Cereus Blooms at Night. Toronto: M&S, May, Vivian M. “Trauma in Paradise: Willful and Strategic Ignorance in Cereus Blooms at Night.” Hypatia. 21 (2006): “Shani Mootoo.” Emory University. Web. 17 May