Let me specify…we’re not talking complicated, Dostoyevskian, “which one of the three brothers is the most irrevocably effed?” kind of bad guy. We’re talking two guys walk into a novel, and one of them you’re really going to hate.
So, I guess we’re talking Tolstoy.. It’s either Levin and Vronsky, or it’s Vronsky and Karenin.
Why do you always immediately know which one is which? Why do you know that Willoughby is Willoughby? More importantly, why do you know that Brandon is Brandon?
(By the way, this unfortunately works in life, too. Yes, every single broken heart was always written from the beginning. Jane Austen wrote your life. Deal.)
I’m distracted. (Why else do I ever write?) I’m distracted by a severely disappointing love story that occurs in a book I’m otherwise examining for its portrayal of certain detours away from the Fanonian idea of manichaeistic violence that is seen in most early post-/colonial Senegalese literature.
Here’s a hint – Love is not one of them. Love is a symptom of violence. Love is what happens when you don’t do what your older sister told you to and marry the rich man. Love is what causes you to get pregnant and smallpox. Love is a disease and it’s living death. Love turns you into a zombie.
What fascinates me about this particular love story is the complete lack of indication that it’s not going to work out. But you still know. She sees him on his bicycle at the movie theater, and you know. He is too shy to say hello, and you know. He rides the train with her all the way to Thiès, promising to honor both her and their unborn child by marrying her. Look, here’s 1000 francs for your mother. I swear I’ll come to Louga and we’ll have a traditional ceremony and I’ll bring you back to Dakar and we’ll raise this child together. But you know he won’t.
Why? Continue reading