Freedom and Security
This is a notion that I have been thinking about. This seems to be a spectrum that all characters have to deal with. I call it a spectrum because those seem to be the extremes. This does seem to be a least one theme in the Midnight Robber by Nalo Hopkinson. This is at least present early in the book. The most glaring example is after Antonio killed Quashee, and Tan-Tan and Antonio “had” to escape. I use had like that because in some way Antonio could have stayed there and Tan-Tan could have had a normal life. Of course, hindsight is 20/20 and all that, maybe her life will be better because of it but as of now it seems selfish for Antonio. There was an exchange after Antonio used the nannysong to deactivate the house.
“They headed briskly down the corridor. ‘Daddy, where we going?’ [Tan-Tan said] ‘To freedom, child. We going where nobody could tell we what to do. Maka say he will come after, and what the two of we could do in that world with all we know! You want to come with me, right?’ [Antonio said] ‘Yes, Daddy.’ She didn’t understand, but she wasn’t going to make him leave her again” (71-72).
Utility is involved with security. When one has complete freedom they thus hold no rights or utility as it relates to other people. Any sort of contract is involved in security. The great transition that has happened is Antonio and Tan-Tan have transferred from the completely rigid rules of Toussaint to the Half-Way Tree. I describe Toussaint as less free because there is the eshu which is constantly watching people listening to people and the house one was told Antonio that it could enforce the law by detaining him after Quashee died. (70) There is the other side of this also. Complete security involves a lack of freedom. This is because it involves protection from even one self. An example from the book includes when Antonio is supposed to watching the fire in Half-Way Tree. He doesn’t it goes out and the mako jumbie shows up. To survive that environment Antonio and Tan-Tan have to listen completely to Chichibud.
I am not stating that either is better but one is supposed to find a balance. Independence in Western Culture is so prized that any attempt to infringe upon it is immediately taken as an all-out war on an individual. People do not have complete freedom because complete freedom also involves doing away with social contracts about not harming other and so on. I have the link about social contract theory and trade off necessary for societies between freedom and security.
Hopkinson, Nalo. Midnight Robber. New York: Warner, 2000. Print.