Book Three: Achille in Africa


  • Achille has a dream vision of a return to Africa. As he follows the swift up the Congo river, he encounters ghost figures. God tells Achille that he allowed him to return.
  • Achille enters the village.
  • Achille carries on a conversation with his Yoruba ancestor, Afolabe. They debate the meaning of a name and of cultural memory. Afolabe disapproves of Achille's lack of knowledge of his ancestors.


  • Achille participates in the rituals of the Yoruba: the kola nut ceremony, drinking of palm-wine, story-telling, singing, recitation of the gods' names, etc.
  • Achille longs for the future where he belongs with Philoctete.
  • Achille walks for "300 years" out of his dream, crossing whales, cemeteries, anchors, etc. Within the dream, he sees himself in the water and awakens from his dream in his hut. It is the day of his feast in which the people dress and perform dances that are the same in many ways similar to that of the Yoruba.


  • Achille looks on helpless as Africans invade and enslave 15 villagers.
  • Achille looks on the aftermath of the village. He foresees the colonial future.
  • After listening to a griot, Achille leaves and attacks a slaver but weeps, for he cannot change the future.


  • The griot's prophetic song looks to the middle passage and the dividing of African nations.
  • Men in the middle passage still must make, still must do.
  • The enslaved Africans reflect on their loss and pain.


  • The plot switches to Helen, exploring more comparisons to the Homeric story, and recounts her sexual fantasy about Achille.
  • Seven Seas tells Philoctete that Achille is not lost but visiting Africa.
  • Walcott compares himself to Circe's swine. Achille passes forward through three centuries to the present.


  • Achille's partner blames it all on a sunstroke. Achille believes the kingfish guided him home and admires the daring of the gull.
  • Walcott praises Achille as the one "I'm homing with. . ."
  • Walcott recounts the hymn Achille could not utter, as well as his return.


  • Achille, listening to Marley's "Buffalo Soldier," imagines himself the soldier and, thus, his own potential part in colonialism.
  • Achille, raking leaves, uncovers an Aruac totem, which Seven Seas explains to him. Achille hurls it away as a token of the colonized past.
  • Seven Seas draws a connection between the Caribs, Aruacs, and the natives of North America.


  • Walcott visits his mother in the nursing home to tell her he is returning to the U.S.
  • Walcott walks home and hears in the town the past.
  • As Achille is sailing toward the shore, Walcott is flying away.