Bali IB DP English

The Editor’s Notes: Chapter 6

In Analysis of Plot, Batavus Droogstoppel, Max Havelaar, Scarfman, The Editor, Tina Havelaar, Verbrugge on 19/04/2009 at 14:05

Finally! This is the chapter where story itself, the actual plot, really begins.

Straight away we get more Malay words, more Indonesian names, (which, I must admit, were a little bit confusing at the beginning, but it is out of the question to edit it out or change it) and, for the first time in Scarfman’s story, new characters. We are introduced to Residents and Regents, servants (maas) and horsemen, and last but not least, an Assistant Resident by the name of Max Havelaar.

Our protagonist.

One of the most important parts of this chapter is, I think, Scarfman’s beautiful introduction to the kind of man that Max is (pg 89). It is again very noticeable how different Scarfman’s writing (and also the kind of person he is) in contrast to our own Droogstoppel. Oh the irony! It makes me chuckle at first, but I realize now how sad it is that the Scarfman, a man who Droogstoppel portrays as inferior to him in every respect, even in honesty and respectability, pays more attention to being objective and truthful than Droogstoppel has probably ever done in his life. For example, look at what he says here after his description of Max:

“Granted, all definitions are difficult in themselves, they become even more so when it is a question of describing a person who greatly deviates from the everyday norm. No doubt this is why novelists usually make their heroes devils or angels. Black and white are easy to paint; but it is more difficult to produce the exact shades and nuances that lie between them when one is bound by the truth and may therefore not tint the picture either too dark or too light. I feel that the sketch I have tried to give of Havelaar is extremely incomplete.” – page 91

Ha! If only Droogstoppel was smart enough to realize that he’s guilty of this all – especially in his descriptions and judgments of Scarfman! It seems obvious to me that it’s Scarfman who truly understands what it is to be truthful – not Droogstoppel. And, also, he is so humble! He recognizes his limits, admitting that his descriptions of Havelaar is ‘incomplete’, while actually he has written almost 3 whole pages on the man. It’s much more modesty than I’ll ever see out of Droogstoppel, that’s for sure.

                All in all those three or so pages gave a description of a man who Scarfman not only admired but respected very deeply; despite the flaws which he does have – Max Havelaar is neither a saint nor a sinner, but a man who is clever, just, sensitive and experienced; a man of humanity. I must applaud Scarfman for not only attempting but succeeding in avoiding the black-and-white approach to characterization – the people we’ve seen in this chapter, from Regent Adhipatti to Verbrugge to Tina Havelaar, all seem rounded and firmly grounded in reality.

                Scarfman deserves more credit than he gets.

The Editor, 44 Prinzengracht, Amsterdam.

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