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A picture of colonial life can hardly be positive as the idea, that one country may expand its rules and standards on the territory of another country with its own ideals and social norms without certain agreements and concessions, usually oppresses people and make them believe in personal inabilities and dependencies. The current paper touches upon the three different literary sources, the authors of which talk about the peculiarities of colonial life, its role in history, and the effects on human understanding on how the relations between different societies may be developed. These are Orwell’s “Burmese Days”, Rizal’s “The Reign of Greed”, and Binh’s “The Red Earth”. These accounts help to realize that each author demonstrates his own attitude to the process of colonization and the reactions of the people on the demands of the government: Orwell underlines the impossibility to avoid corruption and prejudice, Rizal admits the necessity to remember about the personal interests and beliefs, and Binh wants to explain that sometimes not only the colonists but also the colonized people may benefit from the process.
Being a witness of how the British Empire turned Burma, a considerable and prosperous Indian state, into a poor colonized part of British India, George Orwell could not help but wonder how the people of Burma could allow a new power making them the slaves of corruption, prejudice, and their own wrong understanding of the human ideals. It is normal for colonial life to force people to “take bribes from both sides and then decide the case on strictly legal grounds” (Orwell 6) and believe that “no European cares anything about proofs. When a man has a black face, suspicion is proof” (Orwell 12). This approach to understanding colonial life’s peculiarities is not new; still, people need to believe that there is hope for a better life and a possibility to use humanism as a reason to become more confident even during the colonization period.
This is why the ideas of the Filipino nationalist, Jose Rizal, who survived the influence of Spain on the Philippines, seem to be humane and supportive for those, who want to believe in a better future. The main idea of the reading in Rizal’s “The Reign of Greed” is an inability to resist the rise of taxes, but a burning desire to protect personal beliefs and remember the truths of life. The author underlines that it is better to “pawn myself rather than the locket he gave me” (Rizal 32). The life under colonization presented in this story is not easy and requires numerous sacrifices; still, people should never forget about who they are and what they actually can.
Finally, the reading offered by Binh proves that even the most terrible aspects of colonization can be defined as the most powerful issues for people to rely on. In spite of the fact that the Vietnamese had to suffer from maltreatment of the French, get the worst medical care, and live under terrible conditions like in the “hell on earth”. Binh writes that “the more savage the repression, the stronger the struggle” (27). It proves that people should not define their colonization as something irreversible, unfair, or wrong. Such conditions should make people stronger and ready for some other challenges the overcoming of which can lead to a happier life.
In general, the three readings under consideration introduce how the process of colonization influenced human lives and make them believe in personal strengths or weaknesses and use them accordingly. The chosen accounts may be treated in history in a variety of ways, but nevertheless, all of them prove that each political, economic, and social process had its purpose and place and should never be neglected but understood and considered.
Binh, Tran, Tu. The Red Earth: A Vietnamese Memoir of Life in a Colonial Rubber Plantation, Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Centre for International Studies, 1985. Print.
Orwell, George. Burmese Days, New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1962. Print.
Rizal, Jose. The Reign of Greed, Quezon City: Giraffe Books, 1997. Print.