Similarities and Differences between the film White Zombie, and W.B Seabrook’s short story "Dead Men Working in the Cane Fields"

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Victor Harplin’s black and white film, White Zombie, and W.B Seabrook’s short story, “Dead Men Working in the Cane Fields”, both were produced in the early twentieth century and were among the first works to capture the nature of the zombie. The zombie being a unique monster, it originated in the folkloric and ritual practices of the New World, specifically in the Republic of Haiti (The Sub-Subaltern Monster). They both centralize around Zombies, however they do differ in the way that they are portrayed. Both were set in Haiti where the zombie originated. Also around this time the U.S. occupied Haiti and American businesses were moving to the island. America was going through serious social change in this time as well. Both women and African Americans were trying to get more rights. Women were also acting more provocative and doing things that would have been seen as inappropriate at the time. The social mold was being shattered. America was in a boom period with big business and new technological innovations. Also both the story and the film relate closely to Cohen’s first thesis. These two literary works have similarities and differences to them, however both tend to play on social and political differences of the 1920’s and 1930’s. Both White Zombie and “Dead Men Walking in the Cane Fields” represent the early zombie and both of them embody Cohen’s first thesis “The Monster is a Cultural Body” Both the story and the film have zombies and both of these works make their zombies appear scary with dead like characteristics, however the real reason why they are scary is that, at the time, they tried to change society and that scared people. The people that liked society the way it was didn’t want another group to gain power or righ... ... middle of paper ... ... short story are set in Haiti and around the same time, however they offered two different descriptions of the same place. In the story we get the feeling that Haiti isn’t somewhere you would want to be. American business has come to the island and there was these dead like creatures out working in the cane fields. It feels like a scarier place in contrast to the movie. In the film Haiti is seen to be not as dark. The couple goes to Haiti to get married. It is seen as an exotic get away. White Zombie and “Dead Men Working in the Cane Fields” are both works that portray the zombie as a mindless creature, however they both have different reasons for the zombies being there. Both of these works contained social and political references to the time period that they were made in. Both works were meant to scare people, however they did it by playing on different fears.

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