Tying the Knot: Early Depictions of Indenture

  • Alison Klein
Part of the New Caribbean Studies book series (NCARS)


Chapter 3 examines two novels by authors writing at the time of indenture, Edward Jenkins’ Lutchmee and Dilloo and A.R.F. Webber’s Those That Be in Bondage. In both, a British man in power develops a relationship with a beautiful young Indian woman, raising her out of the degradation and harsh life of field labor and into a world of civilization and refinement. This represents the primary justification of colonization: Britain would protect its helpless colonies and civilize them. Both authors wrote their novels to suggest that the system of indenture needed corrections, but was generally beneficial to Britain, India, and the Caribbean nations involved in the system. Yet Jenkins and Webber reveal more than they perhaps intended. The tragic ending of Lutchmee and Dilloo, for example, in which a noble Indian man is turned vicious by the evils of the system, counters Jenkins’ argument that indenture benefits the Indian people. In Those That Be in Bondage, Webber, who was of African and European descent, reveals an ambivalence toward empire. Though he was an advocate of Guianese independence, the depictions of his characters suggest that he accepts the colonial notion of a racialized hierarchy of civilization, with Britain at the top.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alison Klein
    • 1
  1. 1.Thompson Writing ProgramDuke UniversityDurhamUSA

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