chapter  4
22 Pages

Oscillarory Structures, Running Away, and (Dis)Locating the Self

As we have seen, all five of the new slavery novels treated in the previous two chapters use counterpoints of time, narrative strategy, theme, and structure that (dis)orient readers in two or more different yet inter-related hermeneutic directions or dimensions simultaneously. Following Roberto Gonzalez-Echeverria's delightful analysis of the oscillatory structure-and what others find to be the oscillatory movement between epistemologies (historical and narrative order)-in Alejo Carpentier's El reino de este mundo, I would like to call attention to the pervasiveness of oscillatory structures in all of the postmodern slavery novels treated here. Anyone acquainted with Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum (1988) as a chief example of the postmodern aesthetic of de-centering and indeterminacy, may immediately recognize several thematically specific parallels among the recent recoveries of/from slavery. The oscillation between running away from and revisiting the characters' slavery past and identity presents a similar movement against static meaning. Paradoxically, these novels situate the reader as the centering force in the questioning that amounts to the deconstruction of apparently desired order. We can look to Toni Morrison's 1998 novel, Paradise, for a new and exciting development of this aesthetic.