11/10 Indian Mutiny: Banquet Scene

1. “The dominant group or social fear in this situation appears to be that basic fear of all those who try to control others: fear of the mutiny of those who have been subordinate” (Anthology 979).

When reading this passage, I was reminded of the 2011 movie Rise of the Planet of the Apes, particularly the scene in which Caesar (the animal protagonist) leads an uprising of monkeys who’ve endured experimentation. I remember sitting in the theatre as the scene progressed and actually feeling an unexpected fear of such a mutiny.

The Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)
The Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

2. “Chapattis circulated mysteriously through the northern regions, perhaps as a secret message, during the first few months of 1857” (Anthology 890).

This line seemed so random and unexplained that I was compelled to research the issue further. An article by Mike Dash on Smithsonian.com described the occurrence. Apparently, chapattis, loaves of Indian unleavened bread, were carried from one village to another in the early months of 1857. Though they provided no explicit message, the breads were seen as a “culinary chain letter” (Dash). British officials made several inquiries as to the source and meaning of the “movement,” but only theories surfaced. After the Mutiny of 1857, it was generally believed that the circulation of the breads had been a warning; however, the article concludes, “The irony is that all this effort actually supplied historians with evidence that chupatty movement had nothing at all to do with the outbreak of disorder some months later …[but] was nothing more than a bizarre coincidence” (Dash). Even though the article said that the two incidents were unrelated, I find it difficult to believe that potentially thousands of Indians would circulate bread for no ostensible reason. I think that in times of suppression and surveillance, people find extremely creative ways to communicate.

Chipatti bread
Chapatti bread

3. “The profound hypocrisy and inherent barbarism of bourgeois civilization lies unveiled before our eyes, turning from its home, where it assumes respectable forms, to the colonies, where it goes naked” (Anthology 903).

I think that there’s a lot of truth to the idea that the bourgeois act respectable at home but turn vicious when abroad or out in public. In fact, I think it may be a coping mechanism to a certain extent. In order to betray, suppress, and beat other people, one would need to create some sort of justification for their actions, and what better justification is there than the safety and financial health of one’s family?

I’ve seen multiple mob/gangster films where mob bosses are these generous, loving family men at home yet violent, brutal criminals on the street. Actually, after I read this passage in the anthology, I immediately thought of The Godfather, when Michael Corleone is attending his nephew’s baptism while his henchman are killing off other mob bosses under his order.

4. “Before being taken out to the gallows, each [rebel Indian solider] was forced to clean up with his own hands or to lick up a small square of dried blood from the courtyard pavement where the prisoners had been slaughtered — an appalling pollution for a high-caste Hindu, as most of the sepoys were” (Anthology 943).

This passage details the punishment endured by Indian rebel troops who participated in the massacre at Bibighar, where more than 200 British women and children prisoners were killed (943). While the description of the Bibighar massacre was truly horrific, mentioning the remaining “blood…and shreds of women’s clothing and clumps of hair,” the punishments enforced by the British seem almost equally sickening. In defiling the Hindu sepoys by forcing them to clean up or lick blood, the British simply perpetuated the merciless cycle of brutality and cruelty. In their mind, the Indian rebels stole the lives of British women and children, so, in turn, they stole their spiritual purity. Violence begets violence.

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