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The Role of Sexuality and Race in This Earth of Mankind

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  1. Introduction
  2. Europeans looking down on everything that is not European
  3. Minke's uncritical acceptance of the Dutch system
    1. Minke's final disillusionment with Dutch society
    2. The Dutch in This Earth of Mankind and epitomizing colonial exploitation
  4. Conclusion

?In the end the issue is always the same: European against Native, against me. Remember this well: It is Europe that swallows up Natives while torturing us sadistically?Eu-r-ope?only their skin is white. Their hearts are full of nothing but hate.? (Toer, This Earth of Mankind, Pg.329) In her eloquent response to unjust and discriminatory treatment, Nyai Ontosoroh captures the theme of Pramoedya Ananta Toer's This Earth of Mankind. In his novel, Toer explores the inhumane treatment of Nyais and the system that brought about their degradation. He unapologetically criticizes the Indonesian view of sexuality, women's status in society, and race. Using Minke as an example, Toer illustrates Indonesia's naive acceptance of Dutch culture and emphasizes that the West does not necessarily bring civilization: instead it can shake the foundations of an ancient culture and force the people to comply with laws decreed by a ruler only known through photos. Through his main characters, Minke, Nyai Ontosoroh, and Annelies, Toer delves into the demons of his nation's past and offers a poignant critique of the racial tensions and the sexual stereotypes that plagued Indonesia around the turn of the twentieth century.

[...] Through these scenes, Toer illustrates the deep-seeded prejudices of his country: Minke has become so accustomed to being looked down upon that he comes to expect it; and even though people discriminate against him, Minke still conforms to the system and passes judgment on Nyais. Minke has full faith in the Dutch system at this point, and he has not truly stopped to consider the unjust conditions in which he lives. However, Minke's uncritical acceptance of the Dutch system faces many challenges throughout the book and eventually dissolves into resentment and anger. [...]


[...] Toer chronicles Minke's life and his decisions, and shows his transition from a Native who wishes he were European to a Native who loses all faith in the European system because of the racism he and his family experience. When Robert Suurhof brings Minke to the Mellema house, Robert Mellema does not even acknowledge Minke when he enters his home; Minke must wait for Robert Mellema's acceptance before he can enter. Because Minke is a Native, Mellema can refuse to allow him into his home without any other reason. [...]

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