In Marlon James, James shows readers the

In The Book of Night Women by Marlon James, James shows readers the
Jamaican sugar plantation that occurred during the 19th century. James centers
his plot around the ruthless actualities of slavery it imposes on people, and
there are two perspectives that touch on this idea too: “A revenge tragedy for
our times” by Donna Bailey Nurse and “RACISM IN THE BOOK OF NIGHT WOMEN” by VS Agami. In James’ novel, the protagonist,
Lilith, is a dark-skinned slave who struggles to surpass the violence into
which she is born. Through the motif of circles and Lilith’s slave experiences,
James portrays a structure of human oppression in slavery, achieved through his
writing style, which leads to violence being the only outcome.  

James’ emphasizes his
authority and influence as a writer through his use of colloquial dialect; he
implements his representations of slave life through the relentless violence. Lilith
was the only child born on the plantation of Montpelier. A slave owner rapes Lilith’s mother; hence, Lilith
is born. Her mother, unfortunately, dies from giving birth. Lilith was
connected to slavery since she came into the world. Lilith’s birth is ruthless
because: “Blood don’t got no colour. Not when blood wash the floor she
lying on as she scream for that son of a bitch to come, the lone baby of 1785”
(3). The graphic imagery in this quote shows that, as the relation of demises
to childbirths persisted, slaves were essentially guilty. Moreover, the viciousness of this
birth scene, and of bondage, is in the text. This is a foretaste of what other
women slaves, unluckily, grieved — they suffered the same practices, either as
a means of punishment or as a way that the masters had to satisfy their sexual
needs. It can be said that the structure of how the colonist rule was an
endless basis of sexual practices that the white men took advantage of. In
detail, the second sentence is a fragment, which is significant, because when
one sees a fragment, one’s logic is that it is unfinished; it fits in to a
larger idea – the idea of the madness of slavery, which is evident in the
mentioning of blood. “Son of a bitch” is used here interestingly, and if James
had not said the curse word or displayed the dreadful handling of people, then
he would not be accurately exposing history. Violence and slavery tie into this
scene because it implies that, since there are not a lot of white slave owners,
they exemplify their authority by being even more inhuman toward their slaves, hence,
generates more antipathy. This, then, advances the already established

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In addition to Lillith’s
horrific experience and how that alludes to the ongoing violence that happened
to many people, James uses the motif of circles to represent the relationship
between slavery and violence as well. Furthermore, James compares a slave’s
life to the repeated escalation of the sun and moon. The circles rapidly become
an outline to the cyclical formation for slaves on the estate: “Every negro
walk in a circle. Take that and make of it what you will. A circle like the
sun, a circle like the moon, a circle like bad tidings that seem gone but
always, always come back. Woman work round the sun and sleep round the moon and
sometimes work round both, especially if it be crop time” (35).  The stresses of the estate ingathering hinder
the parting of physical labor, but their actions are also managed by an understanding
of nature’s cycles. It is in this oblique way that the human is an essential
part of an informational scheme that shows slavery’s construction of time on
the plantation. The first reference to the circles mentions the annual crop
circles on the estate, as it says “work round both, especially if it be crop
time” (35). This shows that the circles represent a predetermined slave life;
it illustrates how a slave’s life is enforced by nature, specifically during
the harvest period, and the cycle that outlines a girl’s position as a woman. Basically,
a slave’s life is controlled by someone else; these cycles endure regardless of
the slaves’ viewpoints.

James talks about the cycle that
is defied by fugitive slaves, and despite getting into enslavement by transport
or biologically, slaves are stuck in slavery because of the absence of sympathy
from the dictators: “Every negro walk in a circle. Take that and make of it
what you will. A road set before every negro, from he slip through the slave
ship or him mother pussy, that be just as dark” (120). This quote foreshadows
the absence of compassion shown to the slaves by the white colonials as it says
“him mother pussy” (120). Agami makes a unique correlation: “This phrase seems
like the meaning of connotation of Sisyphus mythology, where the Gods assigned
Sisyphus to roll a great stone to the top of a steep hill. However, the stone
has been created by the Gods to always roll back down while trying to reach the
hill. Sisyphus continued to do this and was not able to complete the task”
(Agami). Similar to the state of Sisyphus, the life of the slaves will
continuously reflect a cycle that involves slaves living in a sequence of
anguish, despite how morally ethical a slave is. There is also this repetitive
pattern of slaves being born by a white slave male master raping a black slave.

Then, when they gave birth, their children automatically became slaves, and
this is fascinating observation.

Another circle arises to
reiterate when Lilith settles down and is still imprisoned in slavery and
violence in Montpelier. When Lilith is disconnected from the structure of
Montpelier, she is offered a life where she cannot discharge the havocs by vanishing:
“Every negro walk in a circle. Take that and make of it what you will. But
sometimes that circle start squeeze in on itself and get smaller and smaller
and smaller like a mark, or a head” (223). This phase relates back to Jamaica’s
slave upheavals. Any person will get heated under life-threatening violence
that the people are going through daily, which is exemplified in “get smaller
and smaller like a mark” (223). This cycle is regenerated as the upheavals
remain to be unsuccessful.

            This passage sightsees the cycle
experienced by the white colonists in Jamaica and how they regulate slave
lifecycle and violence: “Every negro walk in a circle. Take that and make of it
what you will. But sometimes the circle not be the negro’s but the white man
own, and white man circle full of hill and valley and things they say that mean
something else” (313). “The circle not be the negro’s but the white man own”
(313) designates how white men established a pathway for slaves that end with
forcefulness and violence, and although some white men may be in conflict with servitude,
they typically yield to the burdens of the social order, which is exemplified
in the word “sometimes” (313). And as Nurse mentions, “At the same time as
James draws on historical fact, he also shapes these horrific events into an
Elizabethan-style revenge tragedy” (Nurse, 1). This is interesting both display
the performances of agony, blood-spattered performances, and the ethical worries
of oppressed people.

The final cycle depicts how
the individual slave and the violence that the slave is receiving goes
unnoticed when viewing slavery in its entirety: “Every negro walk in a circle.

Take that and make of it what you will. But sometimes when a negro die and
another negro take him place, even if that begro not be blood, they still fall
in step with the same circle” (421). As Nurse puts it, “A large part of the
tension of the African-American slave narrative derives from the slave’s
physical proximity to freedom: to the larger world all around them inhabited by
whites, and to the psychological proximity to freedom at the end of some
imaginary railroad” (Nurse, 1).  Freedom
is an essential theme because that is the wanted and ideal end goal, but it is
very unlikely when violence circles around the slaves’ daily lives because
“they still fall in step with the same circle” (421). This quotation also conveys
the disposability of slaves by revealing the remarkable quantity of persons
that were subjugated. Additionally, it entireties the previous phases
referenced. This quote points out the aggressive association between the colonists
and the oppressed. The European practices and acknowledges an arrangement of fear
and organizational ferocity to accumulate riches, while the slaves oppose
violence and slavery as well as compete to announce autonomy and self-determination.

“Another negro take him place” signifies that an organization of capitalistic advantage
and an economic component constructed labor where the colonizers had control of
permitted violence over slaves. Like this example, his sentences do not follow the basic grammar rules. Essentially,
English has no aptitude to portray the forcefulness of the slave experience,
which is why he is writing
in the Jamaican pidgin
English dialect.

All together, the recurrent
motif also defines the storyline, which loops and does not go onward. In the
beginning, Lilith starts off as the child of a slave owner. The circle
occasionally places out the estate and occasionally designates what engagements
or actions might alter a specific lifestyle. The first examples show slavery as
ongoing and everlasting, illustrating on the recurring implication of a loop.

This highlights the fixed idea of the plantation being affected by a command of
violence. The Europeans also interchange in circles with their violence that
they lash onto slaves. Hence, the novel’s repeated violence adds to this idea
of circularity.

Before the circles became a
periodic motif, the circles became fully established in the reader’s encounters
with Lilith being abused by the Johnny jumpers: “Better he jump at her like a
wild beast than frighten her to come over and make her feel that she be the
reason why he doin’ what he do. Better to get rip to pieces by the bush dog or
wild boar in the hills than feel that she walk up to a man by herself and let
him ravage her. By going to him, she rapin’ herself. The whip and cutlass on
the floor. The girl move over to the man. He getting himself excited. Her heart
punching a hole through her chest. The whip and the cutlass on the floor” (16).

According to Agami, “That system made the slave became a nonperson: a chattel,
a thing, an object to be bequeathed and inherited, sold and bought” (Agami,
30). Agami’s observation relates back to the idea of white privilege, how it is
exemplified in the preparation of bondage in which colonists treat the slaves
as possessions, and that they reserve their supremacy and power. For the second
instance, “Lilith couldn’t move. Lilith tremble and she couldn’t move… Before
she can even think, he punch her in the chest, then straight in the mouth and
she fall and spit blood” (156). This shows that the Johnny jumpers are
heartless and memorable, in a negative way. James demonstrates that Lillith has
been degraded by servitude. Both of these quotations use a combination of lengthy
and comprehensive sentences followed by the repetition of words, like “couldn’t
move” (156). By blending these writing techniques, James provides readers with an
understanding to how Lilith thinks in her the memorable instances. According to
Nurse, “James’s use of a hard-edged Jamaican language immerses the reader in
the slave’s brutish existence” (Nurse, 1). 
In addition to Nurse’s observation about language, James also neglects specific
names of the jumpers while demonstrating these actions. He increases the amount
this specific scene can be replicated with the same person by doing that. Similarly,
the use of pronouns creates an objective violence; therefore, it can be pragmatic
to various slave involvements.

In conclusion, James portrays
violence in slavery as he writes in an interesting way, and this is achieved
through the repetition of circles and Lilith’s horrific slave experiences. The
idea of violence and slavery is a very common concept in Caribbean writings
because Caribbean people share a history that is subjugated by ferocious disturbances
of slavery and colonization. The agony, violence in secluded environments, and
gendered as well as ethnic violence does not receive much consideration is
today’s world. Nevertheless, in The Book
of Night Women, Marlon James does a respectable job of displaying those gruesome
events accurately.  

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