Author (Your Name)

Robin M. Respaut, Colby College

Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. English Dept.


Jennifer Thorn


While studying abroad in New Zealand last year, I became intrigued by Albert Wendt’s novel Pouliuli, because it was my first literary view into Pacific Island culture. My interest in the novel was part of my awakening to the particular damage done by the west in Oceania. By attending classes on the anthropology and sociology of postcolonial Pacific societies, I discovered how the west had acted in the region to encourage progressive technology in ways that handled native traditional culture with unconscious disrespect. I was stunned to learn that Oceania is the most aided region in the world today, surpassing even Africa, a situation which has left the area chronically dependent on external help. As a result, Pacific people today find their land inhabited with western NGO’s, anthropological study groups, and foreign commerce. This infiltration rarely incorporates native populations’ perspectives, intensifying the high poverty rates and the lack of skills and education in the region. As a result, western influence in the Pacific, in my impression, seemed misguided and destructive. Reading Pouliuli then confirmed this first impression of Oceania’s relation to the west: I sympathized with the protagonist, Faleasa, when he rejected Christianity and attempted to purify himself from the western virus that has tainted his community. Yet, in doing this, Faleasa destroys his relationship with his family and enters into a sterile world of isolation. I, therefore, began this thesis with a pessimistic opinion that Oceania could not progress without a restriction of the west. Over the course of my writing, my disgust with western greed and arrogance has intensified, but I am, however, more reserved in my sense on how to fully respond to postcolonialism.


Gendered struggle, Postcolonialism in literature, Frantz Fanon’s Theory, Albert Wendt, Pouliuli, Tsitsi Dangarembga, Nervous Conditions, Edwidge Danticat, Breath, Eyes, Memory