The Other Ailment
As the novel progresses, we learn more details about some of Adrian’s patients. Some of the ailments include PTSD and epilepsy, but there is another ailment that gets tacitly addressed throughout the second section of the novel: racism. While on the beach with Illeanna, Adrian is approached by two American girls. The passage goes something like this: “I thought you looked saner than the rest of us…You haven’t heard the joke? What’s the difference between a tourist and a racist? Two weeks!” I don’t know about you all, but this passage made me very uncomfortable. I then looked back at the rest of the page and was struck by the way the two women ignored the two men trying to sell trinkets. In response to their presence, the red head remarks, “Don’t bother, they never give up” ( 170). To me, the details of this page are an embodiment of an ailment. I think that the ailments people suffer from in this novel are a metaphor for racism, and instead of blatantly calling out the discrimination Westerners had against the Africans, Forna instead talks about ailments. In this way, Forna is able to address racism, without explicitly calling out white people. The casual way in which the young woman makes the joke says to me that it is easy to find many things wrong with Sierra Leonians. Moreover, it says that three weeks is enough time to determine that Africans are beneath white tourists. When she tells Adrian that no matter what he says to the sellers, they won’t go away, I found it ironic, because I felt she was talking about herself, and the views other racist people like her held. No matter what hardships (the war) people in Sierra Leon went through, their suffering was irrelevant. The ailments they suffered from because of Westerners ( Europeans and Americans) were their own faults. And because the people in power ( most whites) held on to this opinion, Westerns for the most part were “never going to give up” this condescending view of African people. This passage made me think of “ailments” as racism. Do you all see any parallels between the two?