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The Boy's Point of View in Claire Denis's _Chocolat_ (1988)

Levilson C. Reis

Last modified: 2008-12-13

Abstract


The structuring and presentation of the story in Chocolat (Denis, 1988) revolves around the protagonist's point of view, which goes from an adult woman's perspective (in the frame narrative) to that of a little girl (in the flashback) and back to its original point of view in the final scenes of the movie.  In the initial sequence that frames the flashback, a young French woman, named France (Mireille Perrier), has come back to Africa some twenty years later to revisit the home where she spent her childhood in North Cameroon, where her father was the regional colonial administrator in late 1950s.  Although most of the flashback sequence rests on little girl's point of view, there are important scenes that she did not witness, which should be attributed to the houseboy's (Protée's) point of view.  An examination of his point of view becomes indispensable when one realizes that little France did not witness the mirror scene in which her mother, Aimée, and Protée reveal the first signs of their inadmissible desire.  Nor did she witness Aimée's overt sexual advance toward Protée in the final scenes of the flashback sequence.  Drawing on those scenes that constitute the boy's point of view (France is not present) and those in which his point of view is focalized (France is present but does not assume the point of view), this reading will examine how the boy situates himself in the context of the colonial drama and the feminine mode of representation which gives him agency.