34 Matching Annotations
  1. Mar 2021
    1. Rastas

      Rastafari is a religious and political movement that began in Jamaica in the 1930s and combines Protestant Christianity, mysticism, and a pan-African political consciousness. One of the main beliefs of this group was that Ethiopia was heaven, and that Haile Selassie was the savior of the blacks, the embodiment of God. Haile Selassie was the Emperor of Ethiopia from 1930 to 1974. They also believe that they are being tested through slavery and racial abuse in order to earn the right to return to Zion, the symbolic name of Africa, where Ethiopia is the ultimate home.

      The idea of Babylon has also developed to represent all oppressive organizations and countries in the world.

    2. Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience

      "Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience" is a collection of illustrated poems by William Blake. The opposition that is central for this collection is directly connected to the life of the Rhodesian people. In it, the innocent world of childhood is juxtaposed against the corrupted world of adulthood. "The Songs of Innocence" depict the naive hopes and fears that fill the lives of children and follows their transition into adulthood. "The Songs of Experience" portray parallels and contrasts as a way to mourn the destruction of innocence that is caused by the experiences of adult life.

    3. And outside, the wet snow piled up softly like things which a man has chosen to forget, things sailing down the sky and quietly gathering up inch by inch to bury me. I felt so hot I was unbearably cold. I felt so cold I could not stand the heat of it.

      (p.140) In the short stories "Black Skin What Mask" and "Thought-tracks in the Snow", the narrator/author exposes his separation from his home country after he had left it. Despite him being outside of the House of Hunger, he is still largely affected by his experiences he had within it - "I felt so hot I was unbearably cold. I felt so cold I could not stand the heat of it." The snow is used to represent these memories that the narrator chose to forget. Once he is reminded of them, his mind again becomes more confused and chaotic - he cannot really determine his feeling and begins telling a memory of his, which is something characteristic of him in the space of the House of Hunger. In the novella, he constantly went back between present and past, and he does it again for a short while here.

  2. Feb 2021
  3. onedrive.live.com onedrive.live.com
    1. manfish

      In the short stories, the comparison of man with fish occurs on multiple occasions, and it appears to have a negative meaning, as it is used to portray a state that is unwanted and facilitates the need to run away. There are multiple meanings to the word 'manfish'. The obvious one is a being that resembles both man and fish. The meaning that is most commonly used is connected to physical and mental ugliness and distortion of a human being. The menfish in the story are portrayed as stinking monsters, ready to devour everything alive. This negative image of man is supported by the narrator's agreement with Maria's decision to leave him. The protagonist refers to himself as such a being, but yet he is worried that the others will get him. This suggests that he is different from the other menfish, but only temporary, and he is bound to return to that state.

    2. sounded like the microscopic commotion of six million little people fleeing a national catastrophe

      In this piece, the animalistic and primal nature of the human being is explored. I believe that this exploration serves to demonstrate the problematic situation in the author's country. The man in the story cannot escape from his inner primal instincts and the "ape" in him completely takes over his life, leaving only the mirror of his existence rather than his being itself. From the last sentence, I understand that even the woman, who clearly despises this state of the man, cannot restrain herself and joins him in his animalistic ways and behavior. This could be connected to a piece of information we get from the documentary we watched. The state and actions of the people in the author's country do not really change in any drastic way after gaining independence. The people still follow and do things similar to those they did under colonial rule. This connection is surely possible because of the comparison the narrator makes about the pattering of the rain. At the time of writing, the population of Zimbabwe/Rhodesia is around 6 million people.

    3. And that poor archbishop in Uganda probably did not want to be a goldfish in Amin's head, either.

      I am a little confused about what meaning and idea is hidden behind the word "goldfish". I believe that this sentence is key towards understanding this, which is why some more information is needed. The narrator refers to the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda from 1974 - Janani Luwum. He had a leading role in the criticizing the extremities of Idi Amin's regime. In 1977, Luwum delivered a note to the dictator, in which he protested against the arbitrary killings and unexplained disappearances. The Archbishop and two cabinet ministers were arrested and accused of treason, as he was portrayed as a secret agent of the previous president of Uganda with the agenda of staging a coup. The next day after the arrest, the three were found brutally killed, and it was announced on the radio that these deaths were caused by a car accident. However, there were speculations that the three had been taken to army baracks, where they had been beaten and shot.

    4. 'Looking for a stone, were you, eh?'

      (p.110) This scene is another example for the abuse and discrimination towards black people. Here, however, the faults of the black people are also exposed. Although there is prejudice in the white soldier's accusations, there still have to be some instances where black people have done this, and the soldier expects every single black person to do the same low and immoral thing others do. The possible tragic effects of attributing negative features to all individuals from a specific group are demonstrated in this scene, as this unwillingness of the soldier to change his mind leads to the death of the narrator's mother. Unfortunately, such things happen even today. What could be the reason for this impatience and reluctance to changing one's opinion?

    5. in Immaculate.

      (p.88)Patricia resembles Immaculate in her ability to overcome her conditions and challenges because of her inner strength. Both these characters are unreliable, as they represent the protagonist's ideal view of the fighting and surviving individual rather than a truly existing person. Patricia is characterized by her rebelliousness and discontent regarding her surroundings. She is opposed to the narrator, who is represented as inactive and disinterested by them, when they do not affect him directly. On this page, we see how Patricia takes action and expresses her need to get out of Rhodesia, but again the passiveness of the narrator is exposed, as he says he cannot do this. However, the protagonist gets involved when something or someone is directly threatening him or people around him - he fights the demonstrators and tries to protect Patricia, which is something he did not do so actively for Immaculate.

    6. And because all men use it, that road is greatly frequented by beggars like me. One day I too chose my spot and sat upon it, waiting for the travellers to pass me by. It was Sunday and early. Soon a solid youth in a crimson jacket strolled up to me and asked if I knew where he could buy a white chicken.

      (p.101) The mystical and divine image of this 'road' "between the water and the earth" with billions of travelers is demolished into that of a road, on which the old man sits upon and only meets a single youth. It is juxtaposed with the violence of its surroundings. However, on it, the old man finds the actions of the narrator and his friends. Although the road's significance/grandness has been reduced, it is still the same one as before, and what is found on it could be regarded as more divine than what is outside its boundaries.

      What door does the old man refer to in the very last sentence of the novella?

    7. For some reason I began to wonder if I was really in there; perhaps I was a mere creation of the rooms themselves.

      (p.94) The narrator refers to his existence/life as a "creation of the rooms". What he has lived so far has not been his life, but rather the life that the House of Hunger determined and created for him. The severe impact of the cruel events in his life is demonstrated, as he begins to question the integrity and sincerity of his own being. This could be connected to Marechera himself outside the boundaries of the novel. From the documentary we watched, it is evident that Marechera does not truly have a place to call home. When he is asked about returning home, he says that he does not understand what home means. This absence of a true sanctuary is a result of his life, filled with overwhelming paranoia and fear, combined with brutality of his childhood, if one can even say he ever experienced such period of innocence.

    8. the music of the spheres

      an ancient philosophical concept that regards proportions in the movements of celestial bodies as a form of music

    9. Hieronymus Bosch

      Hieronymus Bosch is a Dutch painter, who lived in the 15th and 16th century. His works are characterized by fantastic illustrations of religious concepts and narratives. HIs most copied and famous works were his macabre and nightmarish depictions of hell. "Bosch confronts his viewer with, in the words of the art historian Walter Gibson, "a world of dreams [and] nightmares in which forms seem to flicker and change before our eyes"(2). In early accounts of Bosch's painting, the Spaniard Felipe de Guevara noted that Bosch was regarded as "the inventor of monsters and chimeras". In the 17th century, the artist-biographer Karel van Mander concluded that Bosch's paintings were "often less pleasant than gruesome to look at". In recent decades, scholars have accepted that his art reflects the orthodox religious belief systems of his age. His depictions of sinful humanity and his conceptions of Heaven and Hell are now seen as consistent with those of late medieval didactic literature and sermons. According to Dirk Bax, Bosch's paintings often represent visual translations of verbal metaphors and puns drawn from both biblical and folkloric sources.


    10. E R Brathwaite

      Guyanese-born British-American novelist, writer, teacher and diplomat best known for his stories of social conditions and racial discrimination against black people

    11. Julia'S face, transfixed by the spikes of a blinding white light,

      Why does the narrator see Julia while he is being beaten?

    12. Yes, it's about time you learnt that; isn'

      She answers to the question he asks in his thoughts. This again introduces the idea of collective consciousness of the people.

    13. eight

      I have to say I enjoy exaggeration here.

    14. bloody heroes

      p.57 The commonly used phrase 'bloody whites' is changed to 'bloody heroes'. The phrase 'bloody whites' serves to demonstrate the anger and resentment of the black towards the white population. The word 'bloody' is used in combination with other words as well - 'missionaries, sell-outs (p.50), Germans(p.76). All these groups of people induce negative emotions in the narrator. On this page and on page 42, the 'heroes' are depicted on the same level as the whites. The narrator shows annoyance and restlessness because of the absence of those heroes. We see a change in the protagonist's view of the heroes - from 'black'(p.41), they become 'bloody'. What is responsible for this revision in the narrator's opinion about the heroes?

    15. Lermontov

      This refers to the Russian poet and prose writer Mikhail Lermontov, whose high criticism of his time, generation and country was reflected in his literary works. He was exiled numerous times to military duty. While in exile, he was challenged to a duel and killed by former fellow cadet of his for publicly humiliating him.

    16. spider


      The meaning of the spider in Bible and Christian art is a miser who bleeds the poor people dry just as it itself bleeds its victims. The spider is also associated with the Devil, as it prepares its web the same way the Devil prepares his trap. A spider's cobweb is a symbol of human frailty. The meaning of a spider in dreams is connected to fear. According to Freud, dreaming of spiders is representative of the mother that devours her children through guilt. Spiders cobwebs can also be associated with locked away areas of one's mind, where one does not usually venture into. Dreaming of spiders also shows the need for clearing out one's mind from feelings of anger, guilt, or resentment. How does this meaning of spider dreams connect to the narrator's mind?

    17. Flies

      p.53 - Flies In Christianity, flies are representative of evil - Satan being known as "The Lord of the Flies". They are associated with dirt and impurity. In Egyptian mythology, God's fourth plaque was of swarms of flies, while the swarm of flies in the novella sings hallelujah. If I am not mistaken, flies are also present in the narrator's dreams, where they are believed to be a symbol of unrest, doubt, which is the mental state of protagonist in this section of the novella.

    18. Flame-lilies.

      Gloriosa superba , the scientific name of the plant, represents fame and honor. It’s the national flower of Zimbabwe, where the plant is protected and is known as ‘fire lily’ - it’s said to be the source of all life. It became the national flower before Zimbabwe gained its independence. The plant has a reddish complexion of colors and all parts of it are poisonous. It has been used to poison dogs and induce abortions. In this chaotic scene, the narrator mentions the national plant of his country. How does it connect and relate to the situation the narrator is describing?

    19. What the voices said was something quite obscene about my mother's morals

      (p.42 - 43) This section represents the inner conflict of the narrator. He has been shown to be unaffected and disinterested in the happenings around him. However, here, we see that this is not fully true. The voices, no matter whose they are, are born from the mind of the narrator, which means that what they say could be interpreted as his thoughts. He begins to question and doubt the cruelty of the life he had grown accustomed to. All the suppressed emotions inside him - guilt, anger, embarrassment - are demonstrated by the infernal representation of the House of Hunger. The narrator's mind is divided into two parts - the part that is in Shona, and the part that is in English. These conflicts illustrate the confusion and lostness of the protagonist, as he can no longer inhabit the House of Hunger because he has begun to realize its cruelty.

    20. A blue-grey spider lay on her exposed cheek. But when I held the match closer there was nothing there, nothing but the faint outlines of a dimple.

      Could there be any other reason or meaning behind the confusing of a pimple with a blue-grey spider, except for the narrator being drunk?

    21. Tiger tiger burning bright. In the forest of the night. The falcon cannot hear the falconer. Things fall apart. When the stars threw down their spears what rough beast .

      This is a mix of lines from two poems - "Tyger" by William Blake and "The Second Coming" by William Butler Yeats.

    22. Peter of course understood.

      As Vladi has pointed out numerous times, the punctuation and the syntax in this text are nonconsistent, but here is the first obvious (at least to me) occurrence of grammatically incorrect punctuation. Why isn't 'of course' separated by commas, while, for example, "at least" in the next paragraph is?

    23. Achilles sizing up Troy.

      Iliad reference

    24. human condition

      What is the human condition, according to the narrator?

    25. funeral games

      Funeral games were a regular feature of Mycenaean Greek society. This could be a reference to Homer's Iliad, where Achilles holds funeral games in honor of Patroclus. A similar competition was also used by the Roman poet Virgil in the Latin poem The Aeneid, where the Trojan Aeneas holds games on the anniversary of his father's death. What kind of image does the use of this phrase provide for life in the House of Hunger?

    26. 'Little Jack Horner Sat in a Corner'

      This is a popular English nursery rhyme. It has been associated with opportunism, particularly in politics. It has also been believed to be an endorsement of greediness. However, there are many different versions of the rhyme, all of which counteract with each other's supposed meaning. The reader does not know which version of the song the protagonist is singing. What could be the message of the version of the rhyme that is meant in the text?

    27. that

      I am very confused as to what is meant by the italicized "that".

    28. VD

      venereal disease - a contagious disease (as gonorrhea or syphilis) that is typically acquired in sexual intercourse —abbreviation VD


    29. fight

      This fight is different from the fight in the previous sentence. It appears to be on a much larger scale with bigger impacts on society. What could this "fight" be referring to?

    30. hungered

      Throughout this book, I expect to see some very unusual use of the word "hunger".

    31. House of Hunger

      I believe this phrase refers to his hometown. The tone of the author and the comparisons he makes in this first paragraph demonstrate his hatred and dislike of the space he refers to as "that House of Hunger".