Ti-Jean and His Brothers: Act 2

Act Two Synopsis

  • Similarly, Mi-Jean leaves home and like his brother, he disrespects nature like his brother Gros-Jean. This results in Mi-Jean not taking the warnings of the creatures, especially to avoid the Old Man. We see the Old Man’s cunning when he pretends to have visual problems. Like his brother, Mi-Jean is also arrogant. He believes his intellectual abilities surpass all others. Therefore, he believes he can outsmart the devil.
  • He too goes to work for the devil (the planter); however, he refuses to speak. Once again the devil uses weakness to destroy the brother.

Mi-Jean: The Character

  • Mi-Jean– he is the second son who thinks that he is the intellectual of the family. In reality, he is a dumb moron who the Devil quickly overthrows by using his perceived intelligence against him.
  • Mi-Jean represents the middle class with their snob ideals.
  • Mi-Jean represents intelligence against the opposition.
  • Mi-Jean leaves to be a ship captain and a lawyer and plans to beat the devil with silence and a smile. The Devil is disguised as a Plant and is at first frustrated with Mi-Jean not speaking. Mi-Jean is forced to look after a goat that keeps running lose and he constantly has to run after it. The Devil makes fun of him by comparing his intelligence to the goat’s and insults him by implying that the goat is more intelligent than him. Mi-Jean loses all his patience and eventually is eaten by the Devil.

How does Mi-Jean’s treat the forest creatures?

  • ‘Please know you place’ (page 41), he scolds the forest creatures, echoing the superior attitude the planter displayed to his elder brother and foreshadowing the similar putdown he will himself experience. Such individuals, it is suggested, become not only absurd in themselves, but cannot compete in a contest for which they have neither the expertise nor the experience.

Mi-Jean boasts about being a scholar and an aspiring lawyer. Why does Walcott make him a fisherman and equip him with a net as a stage prop?

  • The net is a symbol of Mi-Jean’s behaviors and ambitions in which he has seemingly entangled himself, and a book, to which he is intellectually enslaved and out of which he expects to find all the answers. Mi-Jean in wrapped up in not who he is but who he wants to be. Mi-Jean fits into several interpretations of the enslaved or oppressed who seek liberation by internalizing as best as they can the worldview of the dominant class, into which they will never be accepted.

What is Mi-Jean’s strategy for dealing with the Plater/Devil’s wiles? What cause this strategy to fail?

  • The Devil/The Plant was annoyed with Mi-Jean at the start because he was not speaking. Mi-Jean used his intelligence to try to outsmart him. The planter forces Mi-Jean to take care of a goat keeps running lose and he constantly has to run after it. The Devil provokes and makes fun of him by comparing his intelligence to the goat’s that he constantly has to chase and insults him by implying that the goat is more intelligent than him. Like his older brother Gros-Jean, Mi-Jean loses all his patience and eventually is eaten by the Devil.

Ms. Gumbs English Literature OCS 2019-2020