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Literature / The Duppy

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The Duppy (pronounced "duh-py") is a novel by Jamaican author Anthony Winkler, published in 1997.

Taddeus Augustus Baps, shopkeeper, unexpectedly drops dead one Saturday morning, and finds himself having turned into a duppy (the Jamaican term for ghost). Hilarity Ensues as he discovers that a lot of things he'd been taught about the afterlife are wrong, with Heaven being suspiciously like Jamaica in terms of environment...


Tropes present in The Duppy:

  • A God Am I: Two examples, one played for comedy and one for drama.
    • The atheistic philosopher, who up to this point has refused to believe that he’s really dead and in heaven, briefly comes to this conclusion about himself, much to Baps's anger.
    Philosopher: (kisses his own toe) My Lord and my God!
    Baps: (suspiciously) What now?
    Philosopher: I must be God! I didn’t realize it until just now! It just hit me! Please leave, so I can worship me.
    Baps: You want me to kick you backside all over dis field?
    • Baps himself later becomes one briefly, even creating a world as part of an experiment agreed to by God. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Abusive Parents: Baps laments to God that he had a wicked aunt who used to beat him in order to make him learn his Bible properly.
  • The Atoner: Baps eventually becomes this.
  • Back from the Dead / Reincarnation: As Miss B. explains to Baps, at random times a person who’s been in Heaven long enough will experience being “born again,” meaning they get sent back to Earth as a newborn in order to maintain the population of Earth – a kind of reincarnation. It’s later revealed that the philosopher has died, come to Heaven, and been sent back to Earth three times this way, but has never realized it each time due to his Arbitrary Skepticism. Baps eventually gets to go back to Earth at the end of the novel by being returned to life by God at the moment of his first death.
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  • Bad Boss: Moments after Baps drops dead, his maid and garden boy loudly agree that he was a tightwad when it came to their pay. Baps’s ghost, who can hear every word, is not amused.
  • Bestiality Is Depraved: While he's in the form of Egbert, Baps almost screws a sheep. He's later horrified that he could have sunk so low.
  • Butt-Monkey: Both Baps and the philosopher he meets in Heaven.
  • Calling The Old Lady Out: Baps wants to do this to his aunt, but God talks him out of it.
  • Character Development: Baps eventually develops this through his experiences in Heaven.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: In The Duppy, injuries that would be life-threatening on Earth will only invoke pleasurable feelings in Heaven; in one instance a Groin Attack feels orgasmic to its recipient, while in another a man whose wife has just clouted him on the head with a rock begs her to do it again. In fact, in Heaven it’s considered an insult to withhold violence from its intended target.
  • Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male: Miss B. has sex with Baps on his first night in heaven, without his consent. 25 times.
  • Fire and Brimstone Hell: Heavenly France has this, but since there is only pure pleasure and sweetness in Heaven in place of pain and suffering, it's a family-friendly destination. Heavenly America is not amused as a result.
  • Flat-Earth Atheist: The philosopher refuses to believe that anything around him exists.
    Philosopher: To do, you must first be.
    Baps: But you do be.
    Philosopher: I do not be.
  • The Fundamentalist: Baps's aunt, by his own bitter remembrance. Heavenly Americans are this, too; in fact, they’re angry with God because He has made Heaven into a place where negative emotions and feelings will elicit pleasurable feelings and also because there’s no proper Fire and Brimstone Hell.
  • God: He's a main character, in case you haven’t figured it out thus far.
  • God Is Good: Baps eventually comes to this conclusion after hanging out with the Trope Namer long enough.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Baps.
  • Jerkass: Baps starts out this way, but later becomes a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
  • Kick the Dog: One of the police officers investigating Baps’s death kicks his body to prove that he’s really dead.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: Duppies can’t directly interact with the living, but they can still see and hear everything that’s going on around them. They’re also capable of flight, and animals can sense their presence. With a little training, they can become momentarily solid enough to literally kick dogs, as Baps discovers.
  • Power Perversion Potential: Baps momentarily considers what he can get away with now that he's a ghost.
  • Rule of Funny: Let's start with the "fact" that to get to Heaven in Jamaica, you have to cram yourself onto a crowded minibus to get to a special culvert which you must then crawl through...
  • Running Gag: Baps's scuffles with various groups of Americans, which invariably end in pleasure instead of pain due to the nature of Heaven.
  • Scary Black Man: Baps.
  • Sleeping with the Boss: Baps recalls that he slept with five of his maids.
  • Take That!: Several directed at Americans.
  • True Companions: Baps, God and the philosopher.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Genuine pain and suffering is revealed to be this for God, and the closer He is to it, the more agonizing it becomes for Him. When he's told this, Baps realizes that this is why there is no genuinely traditional Fire and Brimstone Hell.
  • You Don't Look Like You: "God looks like a peenie-wally."note 


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