Vol 1 No 2 (2011)

Identity Recovery After Collision: Recovering Identity Through Language in Postcolonial Drama

Emily Weiskopf-Ball
Published March 27, 2011


Language is more than words. Within language is embedded a multitude of social and cultural values. According to Lacan, language is the way we determine who we are and the way we create our identity. When the privilege of language is abused, as it has been in colonized countries, the “native” suddenly finds not only herself or himself unable to communicate, but also that her or his language becomes a barrier to survival. In Dream on Monkey Mountain by Derek Walcott, The Lion and the Jewel by Wole Soyinka, and Stones in His Pockets by Marie Jones, the protagonist, a representative for her or his people, must challenge the language of the colonial centre to redefine her or his marginalized group. Although very different in form, all three plays present the reestablishment of indigenous language as a strategy to re-appropriate cultural identity. In fact, all three authors use the characters’ indigenous verbal and non-verbal “words” to return to a time before colonization, when their language was the language of the centre and when they had a clearer understanding of who they were.