Resistance Literature

The purpose of resistance literature is to express a particular sentiment against a colonizer or an aggressor (either directly or indirectly). It is a defiance of the culture that has been imposed on the colonized and often reflects a certain degree of nostalgia for the past – a past in which the colonized was not bounded by the constraints of the aggressive colonizing power. For the most part, resistance literature is a tool of protest for those who are powerless. It also serves as a means of empowerment by legitimizing the need to return to a culture untainted by outside influences. In other words, resistance literature showcases the repressed spirit. It speaks for those who cannot speak and fights for those who cannot fight. It is a response to the aggressor and a defense of the victim.

Stylistically, there is no specific form that one must adhere to when writing resistance literature. Because resistance literature is ultimately an expression of rebellion, it can be represented in various manners. In works of prose, for example, the characters themselves can be associated with various degrees of sentiment that are expressed by the author. In works of poetry, the overall theme may convey a specific message geared towards the aggressor or colonizer. In essence, resistance literature does not have to explicitly exhibit a sense of political connotation in order to be resistant.

Some of the notable examples of resistance literature can include “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” Both display a sense of resistance towards a particular ideal. While Harriet Beecher Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” is a direct response to slavery, Mark Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn” is directed against the aristocracy. Though some might believe that including these two works in resistance literature is preposterous, the messages that come out of these two novels are just as resistant to a certain ideal as the one that Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart” displays.

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57 Responses to “Resistance Literature”

  1.    tlee Says:

    I like this idea of a “defiance of the culture that has been imposed on the colonized,” as we see that this can come in multiple forms. Still, in providing an open definition of resistance literature, how might this handle competing accusations of false consciousness? If resistance literature is “response to the aggressor and a defense of the victim,” then is the meaning found in the intent of the author? Also, what is how might one define this “particular sentiment against a colonizer or an aggressor”?

  2.    Justin Chan Says:

    I think reading resistance literature requires an open mind. The reader does his/her best to perceive things from the standpoint of the author, although it may be tremendously difficult for some to empathize. At times, the reader might not be able to discern a particular sentiment at all, but the use of descriptive words can often help suggest certain emotions that are undebatable. In regards to accusations of false consciousness, I believe that this issue is prevalent everywhere throughout literature regardless of how narrow, reliable and specific a story is. I think an open definition of resistance literature merely allows for more leeway and freedom for authors to express themselves. A strict definition of resistance literature would limit the author’s ability to convey his emotions.

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