The Dragon Can

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The Dragon Can’t Dance Essay, Research Paper The Dragon Can’t Dance The Dragon Can’t Dance. The author,Earl Lovelace, allows even the non-indigenous reader to understand, to feel the physical and psychological realities of poverty-stricken Calvary Hill – every “sweet, twisting, hurting ache”(p. 133) – more intensely , more completely, through his use of paradox. Indeed, oxymorons pepper the pages of his novel, challenging our habits of thought and provoking us into seeking another sense or context in which these self-contradictions may be resolved into truths, truths that are clearly universal yet at the same time inseparable from the combined colour and squalor of post-World War II Trinidadian life. Striking contradictions are employed most frequently in the

author’s characterization of Sylvia. While she is a relatively marginal character, in her, Lovelace limns a startlingly real portrait of a woman, body and soul, and, as virtually all male characters in the novel are mesmerized by her, it is fitting that the extent of her power is most regularly conveyed in terms of paradox. Already at age seventeen she possess a “knowing innocence”(p.39), intuitively aware of her sacrificial role to her overburdened mother’s rent collector, Guy. When he would touch her, she sometimes stood still, sensing, almost mischievously, the need to perfect the “triumphant surrender”(p.40) fitted for the whoredom that was her destiny, if not her calling. Along with the omniscient narrator, the protagonist Aldrick Prospect is fascinated by her.

When she comes with a white dress and oversized shoes to offer herself to him, he thinks that it is “as if she had come both to give herself and to resist his taking her.” Unable to accept the social responsibility that she implies merely by her presence, Aldrick will later see Sylvia in necessarily contradictory terms as “Sylvia, that child, woman … her eyes … kindling a kind of active uncaring”(p. 114) toward him. Her physical beauty, “the rhythmic rise-fall of her buttocks, the tremulous up-downing of her behind”(p.151), will make him “hurt for her, for the taming of her” (p. 152), for years to come. Graduating from the physical, however, that “up-downing, drop-rising” (p. 152) of her bottom, Aldrick will come to realize that “her very desirability

placed her above ordinary desiring” (p. 229), the mere ownership which Guy intends, and it is at carnival that he first glimpses the future that they might share, how he might paradoxically “lose himself and gain himself in her, swirling away with her until together they disappeared into the self that she was calling back, calling forth” (p. 141). Echoing the Indian, Pariag, and Philo the Calypsonian, Aldrick begins to desire to simply live and love and grow, which is exactly why he has always loved Sylvia: her beauty was not a weapon, but a “declaration of a faith in life and a promise of life” (p. 228). He alone realizes the paradox that Sylvia is both “illuminated and doomed by that aura”(p. 229) of inner “sainted” beauty which Guy threatens to suppress by

effectively sequestering her in a new home in Diego Martin. Only through the use of paradox could Lovelace convey the full range of emotion between Sylvia and Aldrick, who both realize early on the spirituality of their love that blossomed like a mango rose against the unmitigating backdrop of Aldrick’s small room, the crazy formation of boxboard and wood-board shacks on the Hill, against all of the physical and economic realities of Port-of-Spain. When Sylvia notices Aldrick coming up the Hill after his five-year prison sentence, for example, the sight of him sends “a chilling melting thrilling feeling ” through her flesh (p. 206). The oxymoron is especially apt given the intensity of her true feelings for Aldrick and her guilty knowledge of the fact that she has affianced