Five hundred years of colonialism have led to a post-colonial world of guilt without borders. Guilt and vengeance spread at a collective level, covering entire peoples, entire nations, and continents. But redemption and forgiveness remain lonely individual struggles, and those struggles often end in solitary despair. In The Sure Salvation, the Jamaican novelist John Hearne presents such a world of contrary movements: collective guilt and insular individual redemption. Using a becalmed slave ship--ironically named the Sure Salvation--for the setting, Hearne examines how both slaver and captive are consumed by guilt and sin. Even as the guilt and vengeance bring a kind of grotesque order to the world of the Sure Salvation, the individual is left alone to search for his or her own redemption and forgiveness. In the post-colonial world, we, too, are left with individual struggles for redemption and forgiveness. I will examine John Hearne's The Sure Salvation highlighting the contrary movements of all-consuming guilt and the residual need for vengeance, and speculate upon ways in which we may expand individual quests to forgive and expiate to global proportions.
Last modified: 7 May 2001