Orginal Publication Date
Explorations in Sights and Sounds
Apata is subtitled: "The story of the reluctant criminal." This more or less sums up the plot, for after page sixty-three, the hero's fortunes plummet steadily, culminating in "the biggest manhunt ever seen" in the colony of British Guiana, with Apata both predator and prey, alternatively. With the unflinching pessimism of naturalism, Bascom traces the life of Michael Rayburn Apata, a young Guianese with a brilliant academic career ahead of him. The forces of heredity and environment conspire to destroy his chance for admission to King's College, prevent him from marrying the woman he loves, and limit him to dead-end jobs in the interior. He is thrown out of school because he openly criticizes the colonial system. The brown-skinned mother of the woman he loves rejects him as a prospective son-in-law because, "Beverly ent going to marry a black skin, ugly thing like you! NEVER!" Sensing that his efforts to make something of himself are doomed, Apata reflects: "It seems as though 'us people' get quick recognition as criminals, especially if your skin is dark …. Is it only when we become criminals they're prepared to take us serious?"
Copyright, ©EES, The National Association for Ethnic Studies, 1990