Bumi Manusia is based on a book written by Pramoedya Ananta Toer and tells the story of Minke, son of a Javanese regent, who goes to HBS at a time when this level of education is normally only reserved for children of European colonials. Minke is a talented young writer whose articles are published in various Dutch-language newspapers – under the pseudonym Max Tollenaar which makes the writer a Dutchman – and who are therefore widely appreciated. But as a native, Minke is being looked at by many of his classmates, all with European blood. He is portrayed as someone who courageously denounces the injustices that the Javanese have to undergo and the challenges of his own culture. Minke is introduced to a very unusual Indonesian woman, Njai Ontosoroh, concubine of the Dutchman Herman Mellema. She runs the business of Mellema in a straightforward manner, which is almost never home again. Minke falls in love with her daughter, Annelies Mellema, with whom he marries at the end of the book in an Islamic wedding, in accordance with the native customs. However, this marriage is invalid under Dutch law. Herman Mellema is now deceased, entangled in a Chinese brothel. Njai Ontosoroh is not allowed to have custody of her Indo daughter as a native, so the Dutch family Mellema should have given permission for the marriage. At that time it was quite common for native women to become concubines of Dutch men in the Dutch East Indies. They were therefore considered to be women with low moral status, even though they, like Njai Ontosoroh, usually had no choice. Their children had an insecure legal status: if they were not recognized by the fathers, then they were "natives" with the corresponding lack of rights, they were recognized by the father (and that was possible without permission from the mother). Indo, and lost their mother all rights over them – a legal regulation from 1896. As a concubine, Njai Ontosoroh suffers from her low status and lack of rights, but she is very aware of the injustice of her suffering and believes that training is the way to get her human dignity recognized. She believes that learning is the key to fighting against unworthiness, stupidity and poverty, and Herman Mellema also gives her the opportunity to develop. The decision to have the children, Annelies and her brother Robert, acknowledged by Herman Mellema has catastrophic consequences at the end of the book. For Pramoedya, training is the key to change someone's life. Njai Ontosoroh, who had never been to school, and was only trained by his own experience, books and daily life, was a much more inspiring teacher for Minke than the teachers at his school. But benevolent Europeans are also portrayed: the French artist-furniture maker Jean Marais, Dutch teacher Magda Peters and the de la Croix family, of which the owner is resident-resident. Magda Peters is fired, and the De Croix family becomes disillusioned – they leave for the Netherlands again. (source: https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aarde_der_mensen_(boek))

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