White Skins/Black Masks: Representation and Colonialism

By Gail Ching-Liang Low | Go to book overview

7

LOAFERS AND STORY-TELLERS

In chapter two, we saw how the ideological figure of the 'boy' is invested with unconscious desire. The privileging of boyhood functions in Haggard's adventure narratives as a mythic-text of Empire by enabling an easy transition from the innocence and youth of the boyish adventurer to an inheritance of the newly discovered world. Representing a world unsullied by the decadent corruption of age and civilisation, the boy-child is necessarily the only figure capable of returning to or founding a brave new (colonial/pastoral) world. At the end of the last chapter, we located another figure invested with desire, that of the policeman/spy whose crossing of cultural boundaries promises a colonial identity without lack-a subject of knowledge in the face of difference and alienation. In this chapter, I shall end my exploration of Kipling with yet another such figure, the loafer.

The loafer presents a perennial source of fascination in Kipling's early stories; on the one hand, the loafer represents the complete opposite of sanctioned figures of authority such as colonial policemen or district officers, and on the other, he represents the logical extension of the very modes of cultural transgression that give figures like Strickland and Kim their special status. The loafer is different from the boy in Haggard's fiction because he is characterised as cynical and machiavellian rather than as innocent; he is different from the boy-spy in Kipling because his energies are not harnessed by the state for law-enforcement. He is a character who appears repeatedly in Kipling's narratives as one who rejects fair play and advocates colonial exploitation. In contrast to the district officers who uphold selflessly the ideals of the imperial cause, loafers are vagrants and confidence tricksters who live by their wits and their ability to exploit the situations and the people they come

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White Skins/Black Masks: Representation and Colonialism
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vii
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • Note on Spellings xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I 11
  • 1 - Body/Border Lines 13
  • 2 - The Dominion of Sons 36
  • 3 - Mimesis of Savagery 66
  • Transitions 104
  • Part II 111
  • 4 - The Colonial Uncanny 113
  • 5 - The City of Dreadful Night 156
  • 6 - The Colonial Mirror 191
  • 7 - Loafers and Story-Tellers 238
  • Conclusion 264
  • Notes 269
  • Bibliography 277
  • Index 291
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