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Prose Commentary: "The Dragon Can't Dance".

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Introduction

Azhar Syed Azmi English A1HL Prose Commentary: "The Dragon Can't Dance" The extract from Earl Lovelace's novel, "The Dragon Can't Dance", is a highly descriptive prose which reveals the feelings the character Aldrick Prospect has for the loss of his community's traditional warrior mentality. The piece of prose provides us with a third-person yet detailed account of how ancient customs in Aldrick's home (presumably Trinidad and Tobago, as the capital of Port of Spain is mentioned as being a part of his locality) are disappearing in the face of more modern and temperate customs. Aldrick, the protagonist of the prose, yearns to reignite the people's passion for celebrating traditional carnivals, which he portrays in uniquely violent, sinister, vivid and energetic depiction. He has a sense of nostalgia for the past, when carnivals were more beastly. Even with this rather austere rendering of past carnivals, Lovelace insists that ancient traditions supersede the significance, awe and entertainment of modern carnivals, which present 'clowns' and 'fancy robbers'. Aldrick laments at the loss of almost antediluvian traditions, and his sadness is effectively conveyed in the intensely passionate prose. The passage is structured in two paragraphs, each comprising of twenty lines. ...read more.

Middle

The terms 'open claws' and 'destruction' serves to reinforce the link between ancient customs with violence and evil. Yet, even with this rather negative characterization of ancient customs, Aldrick urges people to practice them, so as 'to let them see their beauty', as is shown in Line 18. In this line, however, ancient customs are linked with the release of 'beauty'. The fusion of both violence and beauty to depict the carnival celebrated in bygone years creates a particularly strong oxymoron that enhances the mystery and virility of ancient customs. The image of the ancient carnival as evil, violent, and mysterious is further emphasized by terms such as 'stickfighters' in Line 25, 'warriorhood' and 'devils' in Line 26, and 'black' in Line 27, which are used by the narrator to recount an actual description of the ancient carnival. The usage of imagery is a vital component of enhancing the depiction of the ancient carnival, as it adds elements of mystery and fear. Personification is another literary device used by Lovelace for a variety of reasons. In Line 1, the narrator describes Monday as the 'morning breaks upon the backs of these thin shacks', giving 'morning' the ability to physically influence the structure of 'shacks'. ...read more.

Conclusion

The last believer in ancient traditions- the dragon, has lost not only support for his cause, but perhaps even his own heart, as the forces of modernization triumph against the people's original roots. The basic theme presented is the loss of culture and primitive passion, which have simply developed into more pacific actions and behaviors with the progression of time. The people's need to 'rebel' and fight has abated, and resultantly there is less of a need to demonstrate violence and fear. Aldrick is plainly a character who is trapped in an age where ancient violent traditions hold no practical value, thus creating a mournful atmosphere of suffering. In conclusion, I can assert that the passage from the novel "The Dragon Can't Dance", by Lovelace, is exquisite in it's depiction of one man's loss of identity. The passage utilizes a combination of different literary devices to instill a lugubrious and melancholic atmosphere to perfectly suit the theme, which is the loss of ancient traditions. This unique theme is thus conveyed to readers in a very idiosyncratic yet effective manner, and the author's message is successfully expressed. On the whole, the passage is able to elucidate the complicated theme of the loss of tradition due to civilization in a simple and artistic and effective manner. ...read more.

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