The Beach of Falesa: Robert Louis Stevenson

The Beach of Falesa: Robert
Louis Stevenson
Reading and Studying Literature/A230B
Banan Al-Daraiseh, AOU
Spring 2014
Other elements of Hybridity in The Beach of Falesa: New
Forms of English
• In his essay, The foreigner at Home,” Stevenson contends:
“it is not only when we cross the seas that we go
abroad…Ireland, Wales and the Scottish mountains still
cling, in part, to their old Gaelic speech.” Discuss
• Parts of the novella aren’t written in the Standard literary
English found in serialized fiction.
• Stevenson uses dialect and slang– Polynesian, mainly
Samoan, ones in the narrative.
• Stevenson’s story attempts REALISTICALLY to represent a
new, evolving and still unstable dialect of English—
• Pidgin: a new language that emerged out of the trading
relationships on the beach between different
communities (American, Chinese, European, various
Pacific languages. across the Pacific. Discuss pg 453
• The British and foreign Bible Society (1804) was the first
to give formal recognition to Pidgin and variations of it
that became national languages in the Pacific. Examples
pg 453
• For millions of people in Africa, Asia, Americas and the
Pacific, their first encounter with literacy and the printed
book was often through a translated Bible—Uma’s
Bible in the story.
• In the story, Uma uses an English-based Pidgin to
communicate with her husband, Wiltshire. Also, Pidgin
was used by Islanders to negotiate with outsiders.
• Stevenson’s attempt to reproduce Pidgin English reflects
his commitment toward REALISM in the story.
Activity 4, pg 453-454:
• Wiltshire and Uma’s domestic life is depicted in a
realistic way—a typical everyday marital argument;
Wiltshire speaking in Standard colloquial English;
Uma using simple structure of Pidgin English;
different perspectives on the Bible’s ability to protect
reflects both miscommunication and a common
point of reference. See page 454
Stevenson in the South Pacific
• Stevenson’s emigration to Samoa and his settlement in
Vailima generated both positive and negative
• Stevenson became the exotic, Romantic writertraveller—like Lord Byron and Shelley. His life
generated publicity and sales.
• His emigration intensified the Victorian anxieties about
propriety, both morally and literarily.
• Stevenson “going native?”
• Some of his friends, writers and critics, among them
Sidney Colvin and Henry James, thought that his
migration negatively effected his writings. Discuss
• Stevenson rebutted accusations about the quality of his
writings being effected negatively, but he wasn’t willing
to defend himself against insinuations that he was “going
native.” why? Discuss. Pg 455
Stevenson’s fascination with the Island life was seen as
evidence of his “supposed decline, his exposure to a
foreign land, and his repudiation of Western culture.”
• Literarily, Stevenson bought Hawaiian grammars,
collected and transcribed local poetry and myth, used
Polynesian epic verse in his poetry, read travel books on
the region, and learn Samoan.
• Stevenson immersed himself in all aspects of Pacific life.
Discuss figure 8.3, Pg 456. Why was the Stevensons’
socialization with the Butaritarian couple, Nei Takautiand
Nan Tok seen by the Victorians as scandalous?
• “Contact Zone,” a term used by the critic Mary Louis
Partt to refer to “social spaces where cultures meet,
clash, and grapple with each other. Often in context of
highly asymmetrical relations of power…etc” pg 457
• The beach, in The Beach of Falesa, is considered the
contact zone where the whole narrative unfolds—
where trade and conversation and all other forms of
exchange took place.
-the contact zone both had a negative and positive effect
on the English subject. Discuss examples from
Stevenson’s life and the life of the characters in the
novella. Pg 458
-racial and national categories, as with the ideas of home
and abroad, get destabilized by the realities of trade,
imperialism, expansion, emigration, and settlement
• Despite that Wiltshire’s domestic life reflected the
concept of “contact zone--” living the lifestyle of the
Islanders, his interracial marriage to Uma, and their
offspring (hybrid children), he continues expressing
racial prejudice till the end of the story. Discuss pg 459
• Also, Stevenson’s life in Vailima was ambiguous: It did
not conform to the standards of Victorian domestic life
nor the long-lasting traditions of village life in Samoa.
Discuss 460-61

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