Rooting Identities: Derek Walcott’s Connection(s) with the Caribbean Environment

by Mattia Mantellato

This article aims to demonstrate how the notions of ‘identity representation’ and ‘ecological narrative’ complement each other in defining both the characters and stories that Caribbean writer Derek Walcott sketches in his well-known epic Omeros. In tune with the theories that have shaped “literary ecology”, this study displays the symbolic role the natural and animistic world plays in the poem. Walcottian protagonists are lost in an “edge of the world” they perceive as ‘hostile’. By presenting the hybrid cultural background that characterises the West Indian “space”, this article addresses two emblematic episodes of Walcottian Omeros and focuses on the uncovering of truths the Caribbean land has concealed from human understanding. It is only through reconciliation with “nature” that once-colonised peoples are capable of accepting their colonial legacy and finally setting down “roots” in a place they can call “home”.