A brief history • 1602 – Dutch East India Company becomes dominant power in the area that is modern day Indonesia • At this time, Indonesia is actually a creation of the Dutch and the Dutch East Indian Company • 1800 – Dutch East India Company dissolves and Dutch East Indies becomes nationalized colony • 1824 – Anglo-Dutch treaty delineates borders of future British Malay and Dutch East Indies (Indonesia) • 1901 – the Ethical Policy which asserted stronger Dutch colonial rule and set the bedrock for modern Indonesian state • 1941 – Territory is conquered by Japan during WWII • 1945 – Capitulation of Japan, and Indonesia declares independence though it is denied by the Netherlands • War lasts for four years; technically a victory for the Dutch, due to pressure from the United States and Soviet Union, but… • 1949 – The Dutch finally acknowledge Indonesian independence
Summary – Chapter 1 • The chapter opens with young Ramli’s circumcision • While recovering, the boy shows kindness to gathering beggars and has his mother offer them food • One beggar is recognized as Hardo, who flees into the night for their protection • As he walks, he repeats the names Ningsih and Commander Karmin, wondering aloud where they might be now • The Chief of Kaliwangan, Ningsih’s father, follows him and begs him to come back home • Before finding Hardo, the Chief had been voicing unkind thoughts about him when he thought he was alone • Hardo seems wary of him as the Chief works for the Japanese • Hardo, in his emaciated state, was only identifiable to the Chief by the bayonet scar on his arm • Hardo is unwavering in his refusal of help and seems only to seek his fiancée Ningsih • No one can tell him a specific location, so he is told only that she is “In the city”
Chapter 1 (continued) • Through dialogue, we learn of Hardo’s recent history and rebellion against the Japanese • The reader also learns of the events that have occurred since he went into hiding • In the end, Hardo goes southeast through a rice field while the Chief gets a ride home to his scolding wife • Hardo reveals that he will only come home with the Chief when the Japanese are finally defeated • The Chief expresses disbelief that this will ever happen • We begin to get an idea of each character’s role in the story • They follow the type of roles cast in a shadow play (more later) • Strong links to Toer’s life: • Toer was born in the town of Blora where this novel is set • Toer took part in the Indonesian Revolution, and was imprisoned in Bukit Duri from 1947 to 1949
Chapter 2 • Hardo moves through the rice field and takes refuge from the Japanese at his father’s hut • Afraid that his father might be harmed, Hardo maintains his beggar’s disguise • His father, Mohamad, has taken up gambling since he lost his job and his wife • Hardo learns that his mother died from a weak heart after he had left for war • Hardo believes his father to be “sick” and attributes his behaviour to his mother’s death • Character development achieved by the heated debate between Hardo and his father on philosophy, sanity and technology • Finally, Hardo flees from his father’s house when the Japanese show up on his doorstep
Chapter 2 (continued) • Very strong links to Toer’s personal life: • Toer’s father was an activist and headmaster of the nationalist school, but over time he ruined the family name through obsessive gambling. • Both Hardo and Toer are searching for reason in their father’s actions. By describing this addiction to gambling as being a sickness it allows both Toer and Hardo to understand their fathers better. • In the novel, Hardo’s mother died of a weak heart, whereas Toer’s real mother died of tuberculosis at the age of 34. Toer uses these feelings of loss to aid in the themes of freedom, love, and loss presented in the novel.
Chapter 3 • After fleeing from his father’s house, Hardo hides under a bridge with other beggars, and meets his friend Dipo • Dipo mocks Hardo for trying to see Ningsih and her family, as the Japanese are now back on his tail, and he is easily identifiable by the bayonet scar on his right arm • It is revealed that Hardo is not eating until the Japanese are defeated • His father-in-law to be, the Chief of Kaliwangan, has reported his presence to the Japanese, which initiated this new man hunt
Chapter 3 (continued) • Commander Karmin, the other platoon leader who was to rebel with them but finally betrayed them, is also in the area leading the platoons after Hardo • Dipo wants to do away with sentimentality and kill Karmin, and avoid further contact with Ningsih's kin • Hardo argues that Karmin was simply “sick” and ignorant and needs to be helped, and that Ningsih is all he has, so must go to her • The Japanese get close to finding them, but instead get frustrated and take take it out on Ningsih's family, arresting her father and giving orders to arrest her as well • They threaten the Chief with beheading if they have been tricked and/or Hardo is not found • Karmin, however, reveals that he is trying to help Ningsih and Hardo, though they do not know it, by trying to delay the arrests and captures
Chapter 4 • Karmin reveals the circumstances around his betrayal of Hardo and Dipo • He takes responsibility for the failure of the rebellion and reveals that he plans to find and rejoin Hardo • Karmin has been insuring Hardo and Dipo’s escape from the raids • Ningsih learns that her father betrayed Hardo to the Japanese, and that he is the reason she has been arrested • A Japanese officer threatens to behead her father if Ningsih does not reveal Hardo’s whereabouts • She answers truthfully that she doesn’t know
Chapter 4 (continued) • A crowd celebrates outside Ningsih’s home when the Indonesian army and volunteers disband • Hardo, Dipo and Kartiman are among the crowd, but they are under arrest • The crowd reveals that the Japanese have surrendered to the allies, and Indonesia is now free • The Japanese officer, frightened and confused, draws a weapon and fires into the crowd, but is overpowered by Karmin and Dipo • Dipo accidentally kills the officer with his own sword • The crowd turns on Karmin and demands his life, but they spare him • When the confusion dies down, Hardo realizes that Ningsih has been hit by a stray bullet from the Japanese officer’s gun – she dies in Hardo’s arms
Major Themes • Loss of identity • Hardo is almost completely unrecognizable to his fiancés family due to his emaciated state • The Chief can only identify him by the bayonet scar, a symbol of his rebellion against the Japanese • When offering enticements to bring Hardo home with him, the chief remarks to Hardo, “You don’t like any of the things you used to like. You’re completely different now.” (32) • He no longer identifies himself with material wealth and possessions, and has instead reduced himself to nothing • Love and loss • Hardo mentions that he believes Karmin’s treachery was the result of immense emotion after his fiancé left him • It is this same emotion which has led his father Mohamad to gambling after his wife died just as it is the emotion that is driving Hardo to risk his life to see his fiancé Ningsih • Love and loss can drive a man to do both good and bad
Major Themes • Freedom • A direct focus of Chapter 2 through dialogue between Hardo and his father. • Mohamad says he gambles because it offers him freedom and excitement, giving him reason to live • Hardo chooses to fight and risk his life for the freedom of all his people while his fathers’ gambling is a greedy freedom just for himself. Hardo describes his fight for “a freedom that is greater than the freedom you found… a freedom from oppression.” (pg. 68) • Shared suffering • While trying to get his father to open up to him, Hardo says: “…one thing I know is that people like to share their suffering with others, with the whole world for that matter.” • Thus, Mohamad shares his suffering with Hardo throughout their discussions, Ningsih’s father shared his suffereing with Hardo in Chapter 1, Karmin shares his suffering with Ninsigh in Chapter 4, and Hardo shares his suffering with his old revolutionary partners under the bridge in Chapter 3. • The threat to national identity • The threat exists not only from colonial powers (the Dutch, the Japanese) but from within • Karmin's betrayal of Dipo and Hardo when attempting to rebel against the Japanese • Ningsih's father trying to turn Hardo in to the Japanese
Major Themes • The consequences of betrayal • The Kaliwangan chief was first elevated in rank, but later is treated like dirt and threatened with beheading • His daughter is arrested and later killed by the Japanese officer’s spiteful reaction to the crowd • "His fist clenched, he struck the village chief's cheek with his left hand and then punched his nose with his right" (p. 127-128) • Hardo's father loses his wife, but is ultimately spared by throwing off the Japanese, who he has suffered under • Karmin's guilt over his betrayal spares him the wrath of the crowd • Karmin suffers but is redeemed by throwing himself at the mercy of the mob • The consequences for the colonial powers • The Japanese officer is killed horribly, made more so because Dipo has been weakened and lacks the control of the sword he needs to make a clean kill • The Dutch are driven out by another set of overlords. Futility in colonizing? • The practical worth of colonies and attitudes towards them • “'You're just lazy' the Japanese said with disgust. 'Indonesia is a waste of our good money!'"(p.126) • Repeatedly doubts the work ethic, intelligence etc. of the Indonesians through the book. • If the colony is a waste of money, what's the point for the colonial power? • Exercise of power over people’s lives? Sour grapes? (Indonesia was a very valuable colony for many centuries for the Dutch)
Major Themes • Inevitability of confrontation • “The war is getting closer, it's coming to us, here, to the place where we're sitting and to the places we always thought were safe." (p.112) • Instability of outside control, inevitable crumbling of the colonial control • Need to convince the masses of this (Dipo's laughing at Hardo's ideas, calling him a "dreamer") • Religion • Indonesia is the largest Muslim nation on Earth, but historically, had a largely Hindu culture • Islam pointed out as a possible unifying force for the nation • Chief of Kaliwangan uses Allah's name a lot – is Toer making fun of religious devotion having only a despicable character use his name? • Interesting to note: The Fugitive is a book from a Muslim country that is not scandalous because of religous content!!!
Major Themes • Value conflicts – affective vs. materialistic • Hardo is consistently displayed with an affective value system. He finds value in people for themselves rather than what they could be worth to him monetarily. He has no need for material wealth himself, having assumed the role of a beggar. His values are constantly contrasted by other major character in the novel, namely the village chief, the Japanese officer, and Dipo. • Ningsih’s father is so consumed with greed that when he is told that he is going to be arrested, he begins to list all the people who owe him money that will now never pay him back (p142), not realizing how unimportant and useless wealth is to him when he faces beheading. • Similarly, the Japanese officer describes Indonesia as “a waste of our good money…” (p126) He sees no value in the land beyond the monetary. • Dipo’s values also differ from Hardo’s, though they are good friends. Dipo sees emotion as a weakness, and love as a frailty. Hardo embraces his emotions and his overpowering love for Ningsih. “My feelings are not a sign of weakness.” (p104) he says when Dipo accuses him of weakness.
Toer’s Writing Style • The novel is written like a Shadow Play • The note at the beginning of the novel states that the play follows the general outline of a traditional shadow play • Shadow plays generally based on an epic, such as the Hindu Ramayana or the Mahabarata, and are generally morality tales • Traditionally told using a cotton screen, leather puppets, with an oil lamp for light (though in modern times, this has switched to halogen lights) • The idea of using an old form (shadow play and epics) to convey contemporary morality tales (much like the sources of light etc. have changed for the plays themselves) • Using a traditional form to appeal to the aesthetic of the Indonesian People • A form used to convey moral lessons, so priming the audience for his message • Division into 4 parts • Each section is largely a one-on-one interaction between Hardo and one other person. We see Hardo with his father-in-law in Chapter 1, Hardo with his father in Chapter 2, and Hardo with Dipo in Chapter 3 • Chapter 4 does not involve Hardo for the most part, it is mostly about Karmin and Ningsih's interaction with each other • Hardo has loved them both, and suffered for both of them (the betrayal from Karmin, the separation from Ningsih and the betrayal of her father)
The scandalous nature of The Fugitive • Condemnation of the Japanese military, as well as its actions and established regime, as being oppressive and having no place in the country. In chapter one, Toer also condemns the Indonesians working in government as feeding tyranny. Thus any man in government under Japanese rule, no matter how good his intentions may be in helping from the inside, is simply making oppression more bearable, is in no means stopping it, but instead encouraging it and partaking in it knowingly. • Describes not only the Japanese government but all governments as being thieves and brigands (40) who steal from their people in benefit of war and its own power. Hardo thus blatantly states there is no need for the government, but it is better to have many small thieves and beggars than one, big, oppressive one. • When Hardo hears his father lost his position and wealth the following debate occurs: Hardo: “That’s good, it takes away his power to oppress.” Ningsih’s dad: “Dear God, but your father is not the kind of leader who would oppress the people!” Hardo: “But at the very least, he would make their oppression easier.”
The scandalous nature of The Fugitive • Non-aristocratical ideals appear when Hardo belittles his fathers social status/governmental position. He is glad to hear his father lost his power and wealth. He also hopes that his father’s reduced state will make him a better man, as it perhaps has done for himself. • Toer’s non-aristorcatical roots clearly stem from his childhood aspirations of being a farmer (this is reflected in the book by Hardo discussing the harsh, unfair treatment of farmers by the Japanese and corresponding Indonesian politicians), while his father was an activist in the Nationalist School, Toer’s mother was a simple, hard working rice trader whom he admired. Toer openly criticized his government as being Java-centric and not helping all castes of people and all regions. • Toer’s original name was actually Pramoedya Ananta Mastoer. However, he felt that the family name Mastoer (his father's name) seemed too aristocratic as the Javanese prefix "Mas" refers to a man of the lowest rank in a noble family, and so he omitted it.
The scandalous nature of The Fugitive • While Toer is very political, he did not want to shed blood for freedom though he did recognize it as being vital for independence at times (this is seen by Hardo not actually wanting to kill Karmin for his treachery but instead talk to him and work things out peacefully). Rather than kill, Toer wrote propaganda for the Nationalist Cause and became a spokesperson/leader in the eyes of soldiers under him. He also served as a press officer against Dutch colonialism. Many of Hardo’s beliefs in the book clearly reflect Toer’s own. • Thus the novel can be seen as leftist and activist as it feeds propaganda and religious, caste issues through its character’s words and actions.
Questions • Why do you think Hardo tries to maintain his disguise as a beggar while still going to see his loved ones? • Does Ningsih's father betray Hardo out of fear of the Japanese, or to become closer to them? Or both? Why or why not • Should Karmin be forgiven? Why, or why not? • What do you think was the purpose of Ningish’s death at the end of the novel?