Marx believes that various methods of economic production and the social relationships they engender form the base, the economic structure of society. From this base, Marx believes, arises the superstructure, a multitude of social and legal institutions, political and educational systems, religious beliefs, values, and a body of art and literature. Whether Marxists take the reflection theory that the base directly affect the superstructure and determine its existence, they have the same idea that the upper classes control the base, the superstructure, and impose their ideology upon the working classes. Louis Althusser argues against the notions of a one-to-one correspondence between base and superstructure that are economic-determined. He brought out the term "social formation" that is decentered and has no such essence as the economic base in vulgar Marxism. He believes in "overdeterminism" and "relative autonomy." Take art for example, he believes the economic level is not the only factor that determine an overall unity of a piece of art and that the economic level do leave some freedom, called "relative autonomy", to art. I'm trying to point out some imposed ideologies, to analyze some conflicting contradictions, and to prove literature has its "relative autonomy" in The Chinago.
We find the working class trapped in the ideology that the upper class imposes on them. Ah Cho calling the Frenchmen "bigger fool" for not torture to learn the truth as the Chines magistrate, he seems too foolish, or ignorant, to learn that the Chinese magistrate has successfully imposed his values on him. Ah Cho believes the value of torture even though he may be the one to be tortured if the Frenchmen were the Chinese magistrates. I consider Ah Cho's dream-garden of meditation and repose as his trial to seek his "individuality." There are four times in the text he thinks of his dream-garden. They indicate four stages of Ah Cho's difficult situation. The later the stage is, the more difficult for him to get individuality. His last scene of his dream-garden comes before his death, ending the possibility of getting individuality. Apart from my idea of "individuality" in his dream-garden, we can ironically find imposed ideology in his dream-garden. The example life of the upper class influences the content of his dream. He wants to be rich, to haveˇKˇK.His values and desires are influenced by his imposed ideology and determined, or overdetermined, by economic factor.
Conflicting contradictions can be found in Cruchot's reactions toward Ah Cho's claims and in the narration. Being a member to help the upper class maintain the capitalism system, Cruchot is cruel but tries to be humane in some way. Ideological contradictions in narration may be the best evidence of the author's world-view. The narration in P.837 that "That blow of Schemmer's fist had been worth thousands of dollars to the Company, and no trouble ever came of it to Schemmer" implies the hidden ideology of the author. Though the author seems to write for socialism, his choice of this narration shows his conflicting ideology.
I agree with Althusser's idea that art has its "relative autonomy" because I find some parts of the text are challenging the Marxist ideas and the ideology. First of all, it doubts the importance of the history. I find it ironic and history-doubting in "True, in all the history of Tahiti no one had ever died of sunstrokeˇKˇK.or else one more failure would be added to the long history of Tihiti." Then Cruchot thought in P.843, "He did not know what went on in the minds of his superiorsˇKˇK.Who was he to do their thinking for them?" This implies as well as doubts the superiors think for the inferiors, imposing their ideology on the working class. At last, the text doubts ultimate reality as Marxism declares, is material, not spiritual. Cruchot tried to ease Ah Cho's fear of death and said, "You don't even think it hurts. You don't think. Your head is gone, so you cannot think." However, Ah Cho knew and experienced spiritual pain right before the material knife cut his head off, which left no time for him to experience material pain.