This Earth of Mankind by Pramoedya Ananta Toer Essay

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Pramoedya Ananta Toer’s This Earth of Mankind is an allegorical novel describing the growth of protagonist Minke during the pre-awakening of colonized Java. Set in 1898 during the period of imperial Dutch domination over all aspects of Javan life, the novel provides a clear image of the political and social struggles of a subjugated people through the point of view of a maturing youth. Using several of his novel’s major characters as allegorical symbols for the various stages of awareness the citizens of Java have of Indonesia’s awakening as a modern nation, Toer weaves together an image of the rise of an idyllic post-colonial Indonesia with modern views of Enlightenment ideals. Toer’s portrayal of Annelies Mellema as innocent and…show more content…
Toer likens the invasion of the Dutch to Annelies’s sexual assault from her older brother, Robert Mellema who identifies himself as Dutch despite his mixed upbringing. The brutal nature of Robert’s rape of Annelies is symbolic of the severe physical and psychological damage done to the Javan people by the Dutch that can never be forgotten. At the conclusion of the novel, the Dutch court decides to forcibly send Annelies to the Netherlands to live with Maurits Mellema, the legitimate son of her father Herman because they did not identify Nyai Ontosoroh as her legal guardian. Worse still, Annelies’s relocation is enforced despite the fact that she legally married Minke showcasing the utter lack of regard the Dutch had for Javan traditions and culture. Annelies’s acceptance of her departure is not only symbolic of Java’s acknowledgement that the Dutch have undoubtedly left inalterable repercussions on Javan society but also of the approach of Indonesian awakening. She states “ Like Mama before, Mama, I too will never return home” which is Toer’s implication that Java is on a fixed path to societal change and will never again recapture the innocence of the pre-colonialism world fueling the start of the rebellion (Toer 357). Toer generates his image of an ideal post-colonialism Indonesia through his characterization of Nyai Ontosoroh, a character who displays many of the principles of the Enlightenment. In Toer’s time,
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