The IUP Journal of English Studies
Ritualistic Carnival: Storytelling, Remembrance, and Celebration of History in Paule Marshall's The Chosen Place, the Timeless People

Article Details
Pub. Date : June, 2021
Product Name : The IUP Journal of English Studies
Product Type : Article
Product Code : IJES110621
Author Name : Ashma Shamail
Availability : YES
Subject/Domain : Arts & Humanities
Download Format : PDF Format
No. of Pages : 16



Carnival as a cultural expression has evolved as one of the pivotal societal events on the Caribbean islands, marking it uniquely as an Afro-Caribbean tradition. Novelist Paule Marshall's narrative The Chosen Place, the Timeless People (1969) focuses on a fictitious island community that stresses the importance of conserving and transmitting historical and cultural roots through storytelling, remembrance, and the ritual Carnival. Cultural performances grounded in historical rootedness have in diverse ways redressed and healed multiple injuries of individuals by rescuing them from spiritual and psychological death. This paper examines the communal cultural parade as remembrance and celebration of the enslaved population's struggle for freedom. Marshall explores through her novel the island community's passionate performance of their slave hero's story of rebellion during the Carnival. The cultural festival addresses their emancipation, strength, memory, and resistance against domination. The storytelling legacy in this novel acts as a balm to their psyches, giving the inhabitants the power to challenge their present state, and help preserve their identity despite their subjugation. Community-building forces in this novel foster and rekindle connections, thereby celebrating and championing the legacy of roots.


Carnival by definition is transgressive. It exceeds the limits and violates socially acceptable norms. It jumps over the sacred and enters the profane. It is a celebration of the flesh even as we say farewell to the flesh. It is an overturning of the normal order of things; a time of liberty and license. (Cudjoe 2004) During Carnival time life is subject only to its laws, that is, the laws of its own freedom. It has a universal spirit; it is a special condition of the entire world, of the world's revival and renewal, in which all take part. Such is the essence of Carnival, vividly felt by all its participants. (Bakhtin 1984, 7)


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