F20 Black Atlantic: Resources, Pedagogy, and Scholarship on the 18th Century Black Atlantic

I Need A Hero?

As I was reading through the novel a question that kept recurring in my mind was what make Three Fingered Jack a hero? What is it about this character that makes him heroic and how is this an essential part of the story? From my own perspective this story suffers from trying to both paint Jack as a noble savage and try to maintain the notion of not all white people. This attempt to present this one African character as noble and having qualities that, despite not being a Christian, is still someone the audience should emulate. Yet despite all the positive attributes of bravery and manhood the writer goes out of their way to demonstrate that the white racial hierarchy of the Jamaican plantocracy should remain in place by having Jack killed at the end. This leads me to my second question which is; what type of novel is this? One my first analysis I thought this might be an anti-slavery novel, but because there are so many moving parts and the main character gets killed at the end I do not think this novel is much about being against slavery or anything for that matter. There are so many moving parts and side plots and backtracks happening in this text that the death of Jack feels more like a cheap way to end the novel without really delving into what makes Jack a hero. But seeing the novel as a means of writing back to the ongoing Haitian Revolution, makes Jack in a weird way a hero, a hero who ultimately fails to create a real revolt ( partly because of his connection to Obeah and attitude that all Europeans are evil) that challenges the plantocracy. For Earle, Jack is the hero he wants to imagine the Haitians to be, one who is undone by their need to chase Europeans out of the Caribbean. Seen in this light, the exchange between Jack and the widow is a moral lesson of the cost of “innocent” white lives. Even when Earle deals with white characters like Captain Harrop, it is seen less as an indictment of slavery and its ability to corrupt those who engage in the system and more about how bad white creoles are. Jack is the hero that white people would like the Haitians to be, undone by their own righteous indignation against the peculiar institution.

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