I’m going to start this post off by admitting to having researched Carnival traditions with great fervor as a child… due to a Nancy Drew computer game. I was so intrigued by the very small glimpse of these festivities that were shown in the game that I, who wanted to be Nancy Drew back then, had to research it to the extent that I could at the time of the game’s release. I remember being fascinated with the amount of disguise that tended to go along with classic Carnival tradition, and how representative costumes tended to be of what one wanted to get across about themselves.
Of course, as a child, I didn’t dig into a certain section of the ideas that tend to surround Carnival, which was lust. Drinking, gluttony, power… these were all aspects I read up on. Lust, not so much. I’m fairly certain I wasn’t even aware of what lust was at that time except from what I heard in church sermons about how it was bad, so what I did read that mentioned it didn’t stick in my thoughts as anything to focus on or look into. Yet reading this story, and with the role that lust plays in Tan-Tan and her father leaving Toussaint, I think its important to consider. It is an affair that leads to a fight, and this fight that leads to death. In the time Carnival started, not only was feasting an aspect, but there was also an aspect of lust and desire that carried into it from old pagan traditions. Carnival still, as I personally understand it in today’s society, tends to be a time of high passions, with many events having some aspect that is slightly sexual in nature. Many of the costumes of today are sexualized and some places have traditions that involve things that to an outsider might seem like highly sexual things, such as a region of Greece that has phallic objects paraded around during a celebration that is tied back to old fertility festivals. I therefore really like the framing of the revelation of the affair being in this celebration that has this underlying layer of sexuality, but that one such as a child would not notice. Tan-Tan seems to not be aware of what is happening that caused her father to leave, and why they have to leave Toussaint, which is another reason I drew a connection to my own younger self skipping over the parts I was clueless about.
That all being said, whenever there is mentions of Carnival in books- such as the scene from the reading today, as well as the scene in The Count of Monte Cristo were Albert is kidnapped and many others– I still find myself back in the mind of little me, who was floored and awed mostly by the colors and ideas of deception that came with the costumes of Carnival, and who like most children, was naive to the less than innocent aspects that surround us.
Hopkinson, Nalo. Midnight Robber. New York, Warner Books, 2000.