Monday, March 28, 2011

Those Bloody Drums

PILKINGS: You're quite right of course, I am getting rattled. Probably the effect of those bloody drums. Do you hear how they go on and on?
JANE: I wondered when you'd notice. Do you Suppose is has something to do with this affair?
PILKINGS: Who knows? They always find an excuse for making a noise... [Thoughtfully.] Even so...
JANE: Yes Simon?
PILKINGS: It's different Jane. I don't think I've heard this particular - sound - before. Something unsettling about it.
JANE: I thought all bush drumming sounded the same.
PILKINGS: Don't tease me now Jane. This may be serious.

Soyinka, Wole, and Simon Gikandi. "Section 2." Death and the King's Horseman: Authoritative Text : Backgrounds and Contexts, Criticism. New York: Norton, 2003. 21. Print.

The most apparent and interesting aspect of this passage is the Pilkings' attitudes towards the drums that they hear off in the distance. Obviously, they show that they don't understand the drums, as is apparent by Jane's comment that all bush drumming sounds the same. The British visitors to the land are ignorant of the connotations that the drums carry and what is being conveyed in their simple rhythm and pattern. Furthermore, we can see the Pilkings' short temper when it comes to the natives. Simon exemplifies this when he says that the drumming is rattling him. The drums, entirely representative of the native culture, show Simon's lack of respect and understanding when it comes to other cultures. Rather than immerse himself in the native land and peoples, he and his wife choose only to exploit them, trying to use their traditional garb as costumes rather than seeing their intrinsic value. The superficial lack of respect that the Pilkings' show is representative of the lack of respect that England as a whole was showing to the entirety of Africa. England, just like Simon, wants nothing more than to exploit Africa and it's resources on a scale much grander than simply the theft of ceremonial garb. The Pilkings' show that they understand just enough to feel when there is trouble afoot, mentioning how they hear that these drumming are different from anything that they had ever heard before, and Jane in particular when she mentions that she thinks 'this may be serious.' The point remains, however, that the Pilckings' (England) saw no value in the native culture (Africa) and were simply looking to exploit them (It) for whatever they could, without being killed. 

1 comment:

  1. I think another interesting aspect of this passage is how Pilkings finds the drums "rattling" and "unsettling." Pilkings, like many other Europeans, buys into the idea that the Africans possess subpar reasoning skills--and when the Africans assert themselves and display their intelligence, the Europeans find themselves unnerved and scared. Pilkings doesn't simply lack respect for the Africans--he's full of disdain for them, and when he finds they're not as naive as he thought, he's filled with fear.