The life of a slave has not always been a disagreeable existence. Often, it was quite comfortable and felicitous, comparable to modern employment, with benefits and security, even career development. The slave wouldn’t have dreamed of protesting his predicament. It was the way the world was and to him it was all right and proper. Perfectly fine and dandy. He wouldn’t have seen it as we see slavery today. He would have seen it as we see employment. To the slave, whatever word his culture used for slavery would pretty much mean ‘employment with benefits, security, and accommodation’.
He wouldn’t have seen it as wrong. He wouldn’t have been conscious that the social structure he had inhabited since birth was fundamentally morally flawed. This was because he was comfortable. He was OK. Everything was normal, like our lives are normal. So, in some cultures in history, the comfortable slave wouldn’t think himself a slave as we understand the term today.
In Egypt, 3,500 years ago, the Israelites knew they were slaves. And they escaped.
Even most non-religious people are aware that the Biblical Israelites spent forty years wandering in the wilderness after escaping slavery in Egypt before coming into possession of the Promised Land. They may not be familiar with the details beyond that basic fact, though, so only those who have read the Bible might be able to pick up on all the subtle (and not so subtle) cues given in I Am Not Gog to indicate that those wanderings are being used as a strand of allegory.
In the novel, Lydia has been allegorically a slave all her life until the day she meets Joshua, halfway through the story. Her wilderness years – learning to be free, but homeless – follow on from then as she dithers about which direction she will go and which alliances she will make or break. By the final scene, she is ready to take possession of her Promised Land. What or where that is, or whether she actually does take possession of it, I’m not saying. But, she is ready.
This allegorical strand is also about you (most of us). As I have already mentioned a few times elsewhere now, the target of all these allegorical strands is an unnamed, modern-day, international phenomenon (with the acronym UMDIP, it must remain unnamed). This ‘wilderness wanderings’ strand is the one strand that interrogates the relationship between UMDIP and the reader in the real world of today.
I think that’s enough to give you on this strand, for the time being, as many people will want to enjoy picking up the clues and symbolism on their own. I will go into detail another time, though. The image above is of the lake in Cleethorpes Country Park, the scene in the story where this strand of allegory is centred.
This was the fourth in a series of five blogs looking at the overall allegorical scheme and the four strands of allegory running between Lydia’s story (source) and UMDIP (target). A general overview of the allegorical scheme is here. The second in the series is here, the third here, and the last one is here.