"Primus and Buntin play small but meaningful roles in The Wine of Astonishment.”
a) Describe ONE incident in which Primus OR Buntin plays a meaningful role. (8 marks)
b) For the character chosen in (a) above, comment on his role in the novel. (8 marks)
c) Discuss the role of the male villagers as a group in the novel. (9 marks)
a) Primus, who is a mild-mannered character reluctant to become anybody's enemy, appeals to Bee to have Bolo return his younger daughter and when this does not have the desired outcomes he brings in the police to take her from Bolo. (8 marks)
b) Primus is a marginal character, undistinguished except for his passivity. He surprises Eva when he approaches Bee for assistance in the matter of having his younger daughter returned to him. He confesses that he had surrendered the elder to Bolo in a craven act of appeasement but he refused to let the younger be taken as a sacrificial lamb to Bolo's uncontrolled passion. For the first time, he weeps and shows signs of emotional distress. This explains why he later bypasses Bee and invites the police to take care of Bolo. (8 marks)
a) An incident where Buntin, the black conscious shopkeeper plays a meaningful role involves Bolo's release from prison when he provides Bolo with information regarding village happenings and the information on acquiring land for farming.
Secondly, Buntin offers his shop as a meeting place for the villagers to discuss the social, religious and political activities of the village.
b) Buntin is a black conscious shopkeeper who tries to pass on his knowledge to the younger generation. He is also one of Eva's major sources of information on what is going on in the village, especially what Bolo is doing; he explains the ethos of stickfighting to Eva, and most importantly, he is one of Bolo's few confidantes after his incarceration and someone who tries to help him get settled in life. Buntin represents those who involve themselves in the community work much to their own personal detriment. Buntin is also the village philosopher. He is also the contrast to Mitchell.
c)The male villagers in the novel are generally an undistinguished lot best remembered for small but meaningful incidents, Innocent was the coward who struck down Lester in the stickfighting gayelle but cravenly backed away from Bolo; Mitchell is the Anansi figure who acquired money from his adventures with the Americans and helped to transform the village to a money economy complete with petty mas; Casa was brave enough to expel Bolo from the Club while Charleau paid dearly for his resistance (surprisingly they became friends after). The males show little courage so much so that Bee had difficulty in assembling a group to confront Bolo after he abducted Primus' daughter, Muriel. Taffy is one of the few genuine rebels and fighters in the village.
As a group, the male villagers fulfill roles as:
- protectors of the village
- guardians of traditional cultural practices (stickfighting)
- participants in cultural activities (stickfighting and drumming)
- leaders (religious eg. Bee, community leaders, political leaders eg. Ivan)
- restorers of order and providers of a semblance of unity
- providers for family's needs (eg. Fitzie Morton and Bee)