Healing into Wholeness: Individuals Transformed into a Collective Heroic Being in Derek Walcott's Omeros

Healing into Wholeness: Individuals Transformed into a Collective Heroic Being in Derek Walcott's Omeros

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Healing into Wholeness: Individuals Transformed into a Collective Heroic Being in Derek Walcott's Omeros

"No man is an Island, entire of himself; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the Main."

Individual heroic deeds and characteristics are the seeds upon which a culture's values are based and these define a culture while also defining each individual's identity. Ancient and modern epics define heroic behavior through mostly male heroic figures, but female characters share an equally important role in defining a culture's identity and values. Equally so, a culture or race can be collectively conceived of as a whole or as the sum of its parts. While characteristics such as honor, honesty, courage, pride, respect, and integrity can be, and certainly are, relevant to both sexes, these positive characteristics and negative ones such as dishonesty, lack of courage, egotism, disrespect, and betrayal are often represented by and identified with separate characters, but can function within a whole culture to render the culture weak, sickly or out of balance. In Derek Walcott's epic Omeros, the island of St. Lucia and its inhabitants are healed both individually and collectively as Walcott dares to redefine heroic behavior as a psychological transformation toward wholeness.

Ancient and modern epics follow a very Western tradition by defining heroism as the accomplishments of individual heroes to further the good of the whole, which means some must lose if the hero or heroes are to win. In The Iliad, Achilles comes to his senses and leads his troops to defeat the Trojans. In The Odyssey, Odysseus returns to Ithaca after his long journey and restores order by defeating the suitors. In The Aeneid, Aeneas succeeds in foun...


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...long-waiting now advancing,Yes here comes my mistress the soul. (Denby 463)

St. Lucia, Achille, Helen, Philoctete, Plunkett, Ma Kilman, Maud, the narrator and we. the readers, gain our souls and become a part of the whole of humankind.

WORKS CITED

Denby, Derek. Great Books: My Adventures with Homer, Rousseau, Woolf, and Other Indestructible Writers of the Western World. Simon and Shuster: New York. 1996.

Feal, Elsa Luciano. "Helen: History that Heals in Omeros." Queen: a journal of
rhetoric and power 3.1. 1-10. Online article. <http://www.ars-rhetorica.net/Queen/Volume 3 1/Articles/Luciano.html>

McClure, Charlotte S. "Helen of the 'West Indies': History or Poetry of a Caribbean
Realm." Studies in the Literary Imagination 26 (1993) 1-11
<http://weblinks1.epnet.com/>.

Walcott, Derek. Omeros. Farrar, Straus and Giroux: New York. 1990. 3-325.

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