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Lecture 16

CAS WR 100 Lecture 16: ooronoko notes 6

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Boston University
CAS WR 100
Ted Fitts

OORONOKO WOMEN: The women do not travel very far when the news of Caesar’s whipping reaches them. On the river, they meet Colonel Martin, a great friend of Caesar’s, who is very angry to hear about his mistreatment. The women transport him back to Parham House to intervene on Caesar’s behalf. When they arrive, they find Caesar in great pain. While they nurse him back to health, he confides his plan to kill Byam, whatever it takes. Caesar pledges to do no harm to the women and Trefry, who had no idea of Byam’s evil plans. They try to talk him out of this idea, but fail. As fast as gossip spreads through the colony, truth travels just as fast. No doubt the women feel outraged at the turn of events, and may even feel some shame for abandoning their victimized friend. Caesar has lost hope in returning home or living happily with Imoinda, and now only hopes to avenge his honor by killing his enemy. After this is done, the colonists and the three slaves walk back toward the plantation. Upon reaching the place where slaves are whipped, however, the Parhamites grab Caesar and Tuscan, who are both surprised and exhausted. The colonists bind the men tightly and proceed to whip them, while Byam looks on. For a prince in his own country, a whipping would have been unheard of. But in the New World, Caesar can be treated like just another slave. The whipping itself emphasizes the magnitude and gravity of his change in fortune. Again, Behn deplores this violence not for its own sake, but because it involves subjecting a natural-born king During his lashing, Caesar makes no sound and does not struggle. He only looks angrily at Byam, and at each one of the runaway slaves who now take turns whipping him. The Parhamites then untie Caesar, and he falls to the ground, weak from the loss of blood. Next, they weigh him down with iron chains, rub Indian pepper on his skin to aggravate his wounds, and tie him to the ground, so he cannot move. The whipping is not only physically painful, but the Parhamites go out of their way to make sure it is especially humiliating for Caesar by making his deserters deal him the blows they themselves might have received for running away. The betrayals Caesar has faced now seem numberless, and he has lost all hope in the rest of humanity. Active Themes Racism Theme Icon Betrayal Theme Icon Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon Imoinda has not seen Caesar’s punishment, as the Parhamites made sure to lock her up inside Parham House to prevent her from the miscarriage that seeing such a gruesome sight would likely induce. Meanwhile, the narrator and the other English women have been evacuated upriver, after hearing of Caesar’s flight earlier that day. They have no inkling that Caesar has been
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