Analysis of Book “Lucy” by Jamaica Kincaid
The story “Lucy” by Jamaica Kincaid has a lot of similarities with the Hirschberg Text readings. One similarity the texts have is that they both display people struggling to adapt to a new culture. Another similarity between the two is one of the stories which is “Civilize them with a Stick” by Mary Crow Dog and they are similar because the characters in both stories faced adversity when they attended school.Those are some similarities that “Lucy” by Jamaica Kincaid has with the Hirschberg Text readings.
Almost every character struggled to adapt to a new culture. In the story “Individualism as an American Cultural Value” the main character was raised in Thailand and she says almost everything was different in the United States . I think that it is normal for people to struggle to assimilate into a new culture like they did in these stories because they are going into a situation that will almost always be completely different then what they’re used to. Those are the ways the characters in the stories struggled to adapt to a new culture.
In both stories the main characters faced adversity while going to school. In the story “Civilize them with a stick” by Mary Crow it is about a girl who is getting treated unfairly because she is Native American. The main character in “Civilize them with a Stick” even see’s people of lighter skin color get treated better than her. In the story “Lucy” the character Lucy faced adversity in school and did not get support from the people around her to continue her education and she was mistreated by her teachers. In both of these stories the characters were not liked by their teachers and it effected the character’s education and limited them. That is how they are both similar when they faced adversity while going to school.
Most of the stories in text and in “Lucy” the main characters struggled to adapt to new cultures. In the story “Lucy” Lucy struggled to assimilate to the culture when she moved but then she ended up assimilating and it became her new home. In the story “Individualism as an American Cultural Value” by Poranee Natadecha-Sponsel it is about how she was raised in Thailand and it was completely different then the United States even when it came to the small stuff like greetings. I think that it is normal for people to struggle to assimilate into a new culture like they did in these stories because they are going into a situation that will almost always be completely different then what they’re used to. That is how the characters in the stories struggled to adapt to the new cultures they were in.
In conclusion, the Hirschberg Text reading and “Lucy” have a lot of different similarities. Both the texts display the struggles people have to go through to adapt to a new culture. The texts also show the adversity people have to go through because they are different than other people. That is how the “Lucy” by Jamaica Kincaid` is similar the some of the Hirschberg Text readings.
The Darkness Between and Idea and the Reality of the Idea in on Seeing England for the First Time
Kincaid grows up in a place where England colonization had taken place, it’s called Antigua, a small island in the Caribbean. Since this island has been colonized, Kincaid and all the other children are taught all about England, a place they have never seen or been to. At an early age Kincaid started to realize that the English had taken over her culture. After many years the hatred for England accumulated, she had to see the place that had flipped her culture and ideas. In On Seeing England for the First Time, Kincaid argues how the dominating presence of England in her childhood has caused hatred to become deeply rooted inside of her. Kincaid builds this claim by battling between her childhood idea of England versus the reality of England.
She utilizes metaphors in order to encapture her reader and to make them see what she saw. In the first paragraph she uses this metaphor, “England was a special jewel all right and only special people got to wear it” (p.209). It is right here that she sets the tone of the essay for her reader. Since her home was colonized, Kincaid feels as if she can never really fit in. She puts out the idea that some people, mainly herself aren’t special enough to put on this gem of England. The colonizers make Antigues people feel like they were not as good as the English. She allows the reader to place themselves in her shoes and see that when a place is colonized those who were there before get swept away into the assimilation of the new culture. She shows the reader through her eyes what it’s like to be the one that is isolated from being accepted into society. In doing this she makes a social appeal to anyone that has experienced colonization. Kincaid grew up under the rule of the colonizers from the British Empire. The British tried to instill the idea that England was a great and all-powerful nation into the minds of young Antiguans. By using parallelism and more formal diction, the author examines these ideas to explain to the reader what England inculcated in the colonies. An example of the applications of Kincaid’s parallelism would be when she mentions the goods used in the colonies that were all made in England, and how it left the overwhelming knowledge that all that surrounded them was made in England, even to the values instilled in their lives; all but the ocean, the wind, and the air they breathed. It offers readers a sense of what is driving Kincaid to harbor such resentments and contempt towards Britain once it has come to understand that it is true nature.
When Kincaid is discussing her experiences in the classroom the theme of her discontent shines through. At the end of her paragraph Kincaid states “Because no test we would ever take would be complete without this statement: “Draw a map of England.” Seeing this statement at the end of every test is a reminder to Kincaid of the oppression her people have faced as well all things she hates about England. The colonizers forcing the assimilated students into doing this makes them think that they don’t belong in England. She poses the idea that she has been forced to not only memorize the geography and lifestyle of England, but to adore it so much, has imposed on her own ideals, resulting in an identity shaped solely around English expectations. Although Kincaid sees England in the classroom for the first time, English society is all around her, even in her house. Every morning before she leaves for school, Kincaid describes eating ‘a half-grapefruit breakfast, a bowl of porridge oat, bread and butter, a slice of cheese, and a cup of cocoa.’ Even with the food she eats, Kincaid shows how the English lifestyle closely links back to her life. The long summary of her typical morning meal mocks the lavish lifestyle of English and shows that their culture strongly influences her life.
In the second part of the story Kincaid’s language changes, she is speaking with a more intellectual dialect which tells us we are in a different time of her life. We find that Kincaid is older and has had many more experiences which allows for her to look back and reflect on her time in school and compare it to where she is now. While explaining to the reader the difference between idea and reality she writes “when at last I saw it I wanted to take it in my hands and tear it into little pieces and then crumble it up’ (p.217). It is at this point Kincaid starts to explain the meaning of seeing in the first part and the second part of her story. When she was younger she saw only her own idea of England from her colonized classroom which caused built up hatred for England and its culture. Not until she was an adult could Kincaid, filled with a history of resentment and hatred, visit England for the first time, ‘could only indulge in not-favorable opinions.’ Kincaid explains England’s reality based on her own experience there by using personal anecdotes from the time she spent there. She describes the people as being so pale that it ‘made them look so fragile, so weak, so ugly’, and her wish to be able to banish them from their own land and put them in the role of their ancestors and other colonial communities. Kincaid often portrays Britain’s people as arrogant, with their only real common ground being their hatred for immigrants like her; giving the audience a sense of hostility to Kincaid because of where she came from and the connection between her home and England. Kincaid growing up with the idea of hating England has pushed the gap between idea and reality together. Due to the hatred of England that was built from her childhood, Kincaid’s hatred for the idea of England turned into her ultimate feelings of England when she arrives.
Kincaid suggests that England’s powerful influence has played a detrimental role in her life throughout her youth. Kincaid Metaphors are strategically intertwined in order to grab her reader and make them understand what she saw as well as the battle to create this perception of England, how the reality and ideas interact to create this inner hatred. Kincaid’s vision was affected from early on in her childhood, she takes readers on a trip to remind them of England’s ‘reality’ which dominated her lifestyle and inhibited her natural growing culture. When she finally sees how the England influence has affected her she begins to hate anything remotely related to England. She had spent so long as a child filling up the unknown with hatred that when she finally has the opportunity to explore England it hinders her entire experience.
Identity in on Seeing England for the First Time and How to Tame a Wild Tongue
“Who am I?”, “Who are we?”, “What am I?” and “What are we?”. These are 4 of the most prevalent questions asked throughout from the time humans have been able to think and discern. And for eons, we have tried to answer them through literature, politics, and biology to give meaning and purpose to who we are and what we have become. Therefore, our origin story we could conclude potentially varies from one viewpoint to another and what one person believes compared to another. However, due to the oppression of people over history, there was suffering to achieve a true and single greatest identity whose ideologies was considered best by the ruling nation over the colony which lead for the colonized to not be able to understand one’s self or one’s identity. A person might view you differently from how you view yourself. But, one thing is certain this inflicted identity or forced upon belief of how one should act and behave could shape the way how one views the world and what action one will take in a specific situation or life in general. It could affect the person’s mental health given the circumstances where the person is compelled to view one way or is still understanding one’s true self.
One of the first essays which include the loss of identity or conflict of one’s origin story and who they really are as one of the key points is On Seeing England for the First Time by Jamaica Kincaid. In this essay, the author Kincaid takes the reader on a voyage through what living was for her in Antigua, a British colony in the West Indies, and how the experiences from her past home have made her who she is today. She talks about how she was taught how to be ‘white’ and being forced to believe that being ‘white’ is something of great importance and needs to be respected. Kincaid initially begins her piece by talking about the first time she saw the map of England, and how bright and ‘delicately’ it was put together. But later she called it ‘a leg of mutton’ and a ‘jail’ which was a clear reference to her secret growing hatred of England because as the story progresses she talks about what she found weird about the British rule in her country. She says that she had to worship to the queen who never even once decided to visit the island. The essay overall bears no change expect for Kincaid’s tone, which changes, and she seems to get closer to the reader about England. For example, she says ‘the moment I wished every sentence that began with England would end with ‘and it all died’’ which reflects a heavy opinion about the British country after seeing it and living it and it goes on to show the fraudulent England that shaped her life. This is one of the many instances where Kincaid shows her frustration with not being able to identify herself. On page 368 it says ‘I was told not to gossip, but they did that all the time. And they ate so much food, violating another of those rules they taught me: do not indulge in gluttony’. This very ironic since back in Antigua she was taught the British/’white’ way to live, which they claimed was the right way. However, after she visits England and lives there she finds differences in how they really live. This begins to dwell her because she realizes that she is neither British nor an Antiguan since her culture was not taught to her and what was taught to her was false. So, she wonders who she is, what she means, and therefore gets lost in her own identity. Another illustration is on page 371 when Kincaid states ‘finally then, I saw England, the real England, not a picture, not a painting, not through a story in a book, …. the space between the idea of it and its reality had become filled with hatred… I wanted to take it into my hands and tear it into little pieces’. This is a clear indication of her frustration with the country of England, after seeing it for herself she realizes that everything she had done back in Antigua is completely useless and serves no purpose. She recollects having to remember names of people whose monuments had been built in England, which now was just a place for birds and people to sit on and realizing that these people she remembered had once ‘dominion over the people’ who looked like her. This statement like others shows that she is very annoyed with her current situation because everyone in her life and family regards England to the highest honor without realizing the truth. In addition, she feels terrible for all the children and people who are still under the rule of England and is forced to go through the misery that she endured. Here she has trouble associating herself with the English when she later says ‘the correct height from which all my views of England, starting with the map before me in my classroom and ending with the trip I had just taken, should jump and die and disappear forever’ and she cannot relate to Antiguans because she doesn’t know what her history really is. Overall, she does not know who she really is and therefore, feels responsible for wrongly accusing herself of the problems she had to endure.
Another essay which helps argue the same idea regarding the loss of identity is How to Tame A Wild Tongue by Gloria Anzaldua. Unlike Kincaid, Anzaldua was not actually colonized, in fact, her conflict is more with culture and not being able to fit in with her surroundings. Anzaldua was born in the United States in Texas and she was part of a group called Chicanos, someone who is of Mexican origin. Therefore, her native mother tongue was Spanish a dialect called Chicano Spanish. This resulted in her discrimination in America because Americans and Mexicans did not consider her one of their own. One of the first examples of this discrimination is when she says ‘I remember being caught speaking Spanish at recess that was good for three licks on the knuckles with a sharp ruler…’If you want to be American, speak ‘American.’ If you don’t like it, go back to Mexico where you belong’. This is very disappointing saying something that to a child, and being racist about where he/she came from is sad. Even though Anzaldua is more positive about this matter, someone else would be depressed and might even fight back to whoever told that statement. Another point in the essay when Anzaldua shows her frustration is when she calls the imperialism on people like her linguistic terrorism. She uses the term “linguistic terrorism” to explain how the First Amendment is violated when an individual has their profile invaded with the hope of admonition. And, she goes on to say that ‘Chicanas who grew up speaking Chicano Spanish have internalized the belief that we speak poor Spanish…we use our language differences against each other’. This is a crucial point in her essay because here she is calling together all of the people who are discriminated to join forces and support her on the endeavor, she is about to embark on, something that is virtuous. Later, on page 43 she says ‘we don’t identify with the Anglo-American cultural value and we don’t totally identify with the Mexican cultural values. We are a synergy of two cultures with various degrees of Mexicanness or Angloness’. This goes on to show that language and culture could not be divided and sometimes will result in both language and belief variation between people. Unlike Kincaid, Anzaldua is more open about this matter and later she plays a crucial part in the Chicano revolution to gain recognition. Her story perfectly supports the argument that sometimes-inflicted identity could change the way how one sees. Growing up being criticized back and forth for not being part of any group really got to Anzaldua which caused her to fight and gain back what is right. She herself claims that she does not identify with either Anglos or Mexicans. And she mainly writes this piece and others with the hybrid of English and Spanish to show her stance and position regarding the matter of forced oppression to accept one identity over another.
In conclusion, an unwelcomed identity that is forced upon people is perpetually linked to social and cultural inputs and depends on certain beliefs others hold. In the case of Kincaid, she feels mistreated by the country that colonized her by filling her with false lies. And when she finally gets a glimpse she feels hatred for the nation as well as herself for believing those lies over the years. And for Anzaldua, she feels inconvenient because she is treated poorly by her host country and her family descendent country. She does not want to remain linked to either and just wants people to accept who she really is, an American with Mexican heritage. And these essays tie back to the original problem because both the authors want to understand who they are and not be forced to accept something because of someone or something. Identity is something crucial it is something people understand and reevaluate over their lives to help them grow. So, if someone decided to disturb this natural process with their views of ethnocentrism they are not only causing harm to those individuals but to future generations who are crucial for life.
Displeasure Towards England in on Seeing England for the First Time by Jamaica Kincaid
In the essay, On Seeing England for the First Time, Jamaica Kincaid gives off a tone of being conquered, yet resistant to the power of the English. Kincaid attracts the reader by writing about a different array of issues and we are able to see her journey of realization and reflection upon the power she is under. Kincaid describes to the reader her attitude towards England by displaying the effects that colonialism has had on her country and family. Kincaid gives off the effects of the English power by using metaphors, and symbols to show her displeasure towards England.
Kincaid uses metaphors and allusions to attack England’s effect of colonialism on not only the people in her island, but anyone who has been under any type of colonialism. Growing up in Antigua, Kincaid claims that only natural born British are a sort of “special jewel.” Such a jewel was worn by the English as badge of honor, “in jungles, in deserts, on plains, all the oceans… in places they were not welcomed.” However, no jewel for the “brainwashed” people who were colonized by these people. Her teacher then acts as if Britain is Jerusalem as it is a, “place you will go to when you die but only if you have been good.” By referring to the crusades, Kincaid states again how that all the “true” English already get the “privilege” to die there and the colonists must earn the right to be English.
When it comes to style in the essay, Kincaid uses her angry tone to mock and downplay the huge rule of the British. Her hatred is shown when she compares England to a “jail” or oddly enough, “a leg of mutton.” Kincaid starts off the first paragraph introducing her tone that she uses throughout the essay. Kincaid also uses many long-lasting, heartfelt sentences that match the hatred and disgust she has towards England. Kincaid not only describes to us her displeasure of England, but also gets the reader to feel the same hatred that she feels. Her use of sarcasm, such as depicting England as “a special jewel… only special people get to wear…” shows her neglect towards the ‘jewel’ that England is and takes away the “glamour” and “respect” that England gives itself. In Kincaid’s world, England is far a “jewel” and she references small things that support her point of view in order to draw the reader into her world of hatred towards this ruling country that has changed her in ways she never wanted to.
In a way, I can see where Kincaid is coming from. Being a descendent of immigrants in the United States is not something that is taken lightly here. I am looked down upon for the color of my skin, for the language that I speak with to my family, for the way that I live, for where I live. I completely understand Kincaid’s “jewel” reference because at a time, that is what I felt. I imagined the United States being an equal place for everyone and completely loving and accepting everybody for who they were. God was I wrong. Now, I know this country is not entirely like that. There is some good. I have more of a chance to be successful here than in Mexico. I have an opportunity to become equal; but I will never truly be “equal.” I, like Kincaid, saw my country as being amazing, but as I grew older, I learned of all the history, all the turmoil, and all the hatred that is still found today. With Donald Trump being president, it gives me two ways to look at it. One way is that anyone can make it very far. Another way is that a person filled with hatred can still win an election in a time where we see both viewpoints more than ever.
Mother-daughter Relationship in Annie John
The novel, Annie John, by Jamaica Kincaid shows how a young girl’s relationship with her mother changes as she goes through puberty. Annie John, the 12 year old girl, develops mentally and physically, but also starts to become distant from her mother who she has been close with all of her life. The young girl’s disobedient position towards her mother is shown throughout the novel, creating a toxic mother-daughter relationship. When Annie John was a little girl she loved spending time with her mother, but as she grows older she begins to show hatred towards her mom. The relationship between Annie and her mother changes throughout the novel as Annie becomes a rebellious teenager, going against her morals.
Before Annie John reached the stage of puberty, she had a loving relationship with her mother and they spent a lot of their time together. Her and her mother were very close-knit and the two spent their time bathing, shopping, cooking, and more. One day during lunch she looked at her father and didn’t think anything of it, but when she looked at her mother she took a moment and cherished her mother’s beauty, “When my eyes rested on my father I didn’t think very much of the way he looked. But when my eyes rested on my mother, I found her beautiful” (Kincaid 18). She expresses her mother’s features in a loving tone showing how much she truly loved her. Annie had great admiration for her mother and wanted to be exactly like her. Throughout the story, Kincaid shows Annie John following her mother around, admiring her mother’s beauty, and doing exactly as her mother does. Whether it was cooking dinner in the kitchen or watching her mother bathe herself, Annie was always at her side.
As Annie John becomes a teenager she begins to have a toxic relationship with her mother and starts to keep secrets from her, becoming a disobedient child. For example, the following scene shows her going against her morals: “Reaching into my mother’s purse for the odd penny or so was easy enough to do … I hardly asked myself what use the Red Girl could really have for these gifts; I hardly cared that she only glanced at them for a moment and then placed them in the pocket of her dirty dress” (Kincaid 64). Annie John was looking to buy a gift for the girl she liked, but didn’t have the money, so she stole it from her mother. As the novel progresses, Annie John reaches an age where she doesn’t receive as much attention from her mother. Her mother believes that since she is turning into a young woman, she should begin to find her own way of life. This makes Annie John feel betrayed and unloved, and because of this she begins to act very differently towards her mother, stealing and lying to her. She soon begins to hate her mother, sometimes wishing she was dead. The two characters distance themselves from each other, losing the close bond they originally had.
The mother-daughter relationship between Annie and Mrs. John is torn apart as Annie John becomes an unruly adolescent. When Annie John was a little girl her and her mother spent every moment together and had a very strong relationship. By the time Annie John begins to hit puberty they’re relationship becomes tense and they begin to drift. Mother-daughter relationships are tense, and Kincaid shows this through these two characters. The relationship between a mother and a daughter is developed at birth, but Kincaid shows the struggles that many teenage girls and their mothers face when reaching an adolescent stage. At times, the author shows how much Annie John hates her mother and wishes she was dead, but at other times she shows the loving affection between both of them. Annie and her mother may have difficult times throughout the novel, but they both know deep down how much love they have for one another.
Colonial Influence and Cultural Identity in Annie John
Annie John is a novel written by Jamaica Kincaid in 1985. The book is a coming of age story as it depicts the life of a young girl named Annie John as she shifts from her childhood to her adolescence. At first, the book shows the strong bond between a young girl and her mother, but as she searches for her own identity, we see this girl gradually distance herself from her family. As Annie grows she experiences knew facets of her culture through the diverse adventures she partakes in and many friendships she forms. The story centers itself around three main themes: parent-child relationship, feminism and colonial influence on Caribbean culture. Through the analysis of colonial influence on Antigua’s educational and cultural standards in Annie John, we can ask ourselves: How and why is a social group represented in a particular way? In order to answer this question, this text will focus on the depiction of the British by firstly examining the coexistence of the two different nationalities, secondly deconstructing British social expectations and conformity to British standards and lastly studying the colonial history of Antigua.
Firstly, the story depicts the challenges that Annie goes through to find her cultural identity on this culturally diverse island. Although most of Antigua had a predominant creole culture because of its Afro-Antiguans majority, the British still formed a white oligarchy by constituting 1,7 percent of the Antiguan demographic in the 1950s. The Creole culture emerged from the mixing of Amerindian, West African and European cultures during colonization and is still a greatly spread culture throughout the Caribbean region. In the story, we can clearly see a split between two cultures: British culture and Obeah culture. Throughout the story English folks are regarded as more uptight and proper individuals by depicting them as rule enforcers such as the school teacher ““our headmistress (said) that she hoped we had all left our bad ways behind us, that we would be good examples for each other and bring greater credit to our school”. On the other hand, Afro-Antiguans are regarded as more superstitious individuals that consult their spiritual guides (Obeah women) to make decisions, “We took these baths after my mother had consulted with her obeah woman, and with her mother and a trusted friend. And all three of them had confirmed that from the look of things around our house (…) one of the many women my father had loved (…) was trying to harm my mother and me by setting bad spirits on us.”
Secondly, the English school system in which the story is set illustrates the conformism of British culture and suppression of Creole culture. Annie John’s maturing pushes her to reject the oppressive nature of her school system. Therefore, the rejection of British order is exemplified by the judgment she has over her English teacher “I knew right away that she [miss Moore] had come to Antigua from England, for she looked like a prune left out of its jar a long time and she sounded as if she had borrowed her voice from an owl. […] I wondered if she even smelled like a fish.” Not to mention, the loathing sentiment Annie withholds for the codified gender roles that are imposed upon her. Therefore, these social constructs are threats to Annie’s sense of identity, as she has to follow a code that contradicts her very sense of personal freedom and identity. For example, Gwen and Annie’s relationship was frowned upon by the English characters in the story and at the time two girls would be forbidden to have such close relations.
Thirdly, Antigua’s history with colonialism is a central aspect of the book. Although Afro-Antiguans had been liberated from the slavery they had endured for centuries, the colonial culture was still predominant in the educational spheres. Annie John does not adhere to the ideals of colonial history and wants to challenge the order by contesting the actions of colonizers. For example, when Columbus Day rolls around Annie decides to take a stance against this commemoration by blaspheming Christopher Columbus in her history book and consequently gets reprimanded by her principal by having to Annie copy Paradise Lost as punishment, “When I next saw the picture of Columbus sitting there all locked up in his chains, I wrote under it the words: The Great Man Can No longer Just Get Up and Go.” The principal’s choice of the book is important because it serves to symbolize what is to come if Annie does not straighten up her behavior and depicts quite fairly the reality of Antigua when this paradisiac island became a living hell with the arrival of the British and establishment of slavery.
To conclude, it is now clear that British cultural clashes with Annie John’s character development throughout the story. Although Annie rejects the British social standards, these aspects of her environment are constantly evoked by the often criticized English characters in the story. Therefore, Jamaica Kincaid establishes a constant struggle between the coexistence of these cultures and shows the difficulty Annie has to find her own cultural identity.
Effect of the Elements of Dangerous Stories in Jamaica Kincaid’s Novel Girl and Recitatif by Toni Morrison
The Truth About Stories: A Native Narrative, published in 2003, is in part an anecdote that recognizes the power behind creation stories. Perhaps more than that, it is also about the influence that stories hold and the dangers that tailgate what a story includes or omits, and how this configures the thoughts, actions and reactions of others. In his essay, King states “Stories are wonderous things. And they are dangerous”. The following composition recognizes the dangerous elements of storytelling and examines two examples of “dangerous stories”, in which the stories that the main characters tell themselves or are told by external voices are harmful.
The short stories Girl by Jamaica Kincaid and Recitatif by Toni Morrison examine the controlling effects of certain “dangerous” stories that the characters battle. Jamaica Kincaid’s short story Girl (1976) tells the story of a young girl who is learning her societal role and cultural expectations, under the guidance of an unidentified character, presumably a mother-figure. Kincaid avoids the use of proper punctuation throughout her piece, opting instead for semi-colons, and creating a continuous chain of commands and orders from the mother figure, directed towards the girl. The absence of punctuation throughout the short story generates the implication of a one sided-conversation, as the girl struggles to speak up, to question or to assert herself. The mother provides the girl with practical information, such as how to do various household chores, how to cook and offers relationship advice that will later be helpful when engaging in relationships with men. Reoccurring throughout the text she warns her daughter against “becoming a slut” and suggests that walking like a lady, ensuring that her dress is hemmed properly and behaving accordingly in the presence of men, will impede promiscuous behaviors. The narrative in Girl recounts the mother’s expectations of her daughter’s roles and duties within society in a dangerous fashion, that unfortunately is still the experience of so many women and girls today. The story that the mother tells her daughter does not allow her to aim as high as she possibly can, or to fulfill her greatest potential. Often, we believe the stories that people tell us about ourselves and themselves, and in this case the “bad story” that the mother constructs misrepresent her intentions and hopes for her daughter.
Dangerous stories can often be unconsciously constructed, consciously constructed, sometimes propagandistic, or have an ill intention, but most of the time, and in this case the dangerous story is constructed out of the mother’s hopes and wishes that the world will be kind to her daughter. Dismally, the story that the woman tells her daughter obstructs, diminishes and denies women’s success, projecting society’s ideas of what women can do and what women are capable of. When culture is telling us otherwise, it becomes challenging to reject the story that you’re not worth much. The dangerous narrative that Kincaid criticizes is still relevant in considerable ways. As a girl, from a young age, I was raised to please everyone. The dangerous story that I told myself was that “I need to be nice in order to be loved. ” That if I could make everyone around me happy, if I could give them what they want, that they would love me. For myself, learning how to let go of this narrative a little bit and sometimes disappoint people or to say no, have been authentic struggles. Once these deep dangerous stories are told and internalized, it is with difficulty and with great effort that the powerful revisions that we strive to create are actualized.
Conclusion- Although stories can indeed be threatening, a positive element of these dangerous stories is that they can be a driver, by which you can say, “These stories are untrue” and set out to change the stories that we recount today. We depict a story, and then we revise it after realizing that the story that we’ve told is incorrect. What’s assuring about life is that we’re constantly doing this. There will always be a layer of what is the deepest truth, that we are not consistently aware of at the time. Ultimately, we are all unreliable narrators, with radically subjective views of events that may be objectively true, but the way that we see them is with our hearts, not with our minds and sometimes not even with our eyes. Thomas King writes “. . . once a story is told, it cannot be called back. Once told, it is loose in the world. ” Part of the human struggle is that often there is no ill intention behind the stories we tell, but a beautiful intention that lets us in for danger unless we catch it in time.
The Challenge of Double Identity in Jamaica Kincaid’s Novel Lucy
Through the lens in which we analyze the novel Lucy, by Jamaica Kincaid, there is a noticeable challenge faced by the main character Lucy. Her double identity, consisting of both an Americanized and Caribbean viewpoint, is seen throughout the novel provoking Lucy to engage in a constant battle with herself. Lucy is consistently struggling with adapting from her hometown in the Caribbean to her new home in the United States. Lucy is not only a woman of African descent but she also embodies her Caribbean ethnicity which is evidently seen throughout the novel. Kincaid is able to portray the surprising challenge of double identity for Lucy through societal emulation and the use of daffodils.
Through Lucy’s experiences with the American culture she realizes that life in the states is a lot different from life back in the West Indies, which further strengthens her challenges with her double identity. “I had been a girl of whom certain things were expected…but in one year of being away from home, that girl had gone out of existence” (Kincaid, 133). In dealing with such a diverse place as the United States, it is hard for someone with Lucy’s background to not experience some form of identity change. Lucy is not only seen as a young black girl from Antigua, but in the eyes of those from the United States, she is a black girl of different status. Mariah’s friend Dinah refers to Lucy’s true home as “the islands” (Kincaid, 56). Angered by Dinah’s choice of words, Lucy responds in a way that reflects her post-colonial experiences as a native in the Caribbean. The way in which Dinah references the West Indies depicts the colonial perspective people of her background have towards those of colonized nations. Through this conversation, Lucy’s native persona reveals itself. She is taken back by the arrogance implied by referring to her homeland as just “the islands” (Kincaid, 56). Dinah’s indifference in the way she speaks to Lucy displays the pretension of those endowed in wealth and privilege. This example not only displays how select individuals in America lack empathy towards those of the colonized but it also displays the constant conflict Lucy faces in her minoritized identity.
In the novel, Kincaid symbolizes daffodils as Lucy’s double identity through a conversation between Mariah and Lucy. Mariah, the wife of the household, describes daffodils in a way that makes her “feel glad to be alive” (Kincaid, 17). In contrast, for Lucy, the image of daffodils brings back unpleasant memories from life back in the West Indies. As stated in the novel, Lucy professes, “I was then at the height of my two-facedness: that is outside I seemed one way, inside I was another; outside false, inside true” (Kincaid, 18). As much as Lucy despises the memory that comes along with Daffodils, her alternative identity shines through when confronted with the opinion of someone of higher status and of different culture. Feeling as though she has two identities in her own country forces her to endure all of the aspects of Britain’s culture while not fully feeling as if she belongs because she is not able to completely accept the traditions of the British people. In moving to a completely different region, it is hard for Lucy to adapt so quickly especially when the country in which she has now inhabited treated her people of the West Indies in such a horrific manner. When expressing how she felt false on the outside but true on the inside she meant that she may be acting fine towards the mentioning of daffodils but on the inside her true opinion is exposed, therefore forcing her to recognize her fabricated identity.
In establishing Lucy’s double identity, Kincaid is able to formalize this concept through societal confrontation and the use of daffodils. Lucy is able to look into situations and people in a different way due to her dual identity. Henceforth, in speaking of the West Indies and the opinions of daffodils, Lucy sees herself transitioning into a person she does not recognize. In understanding the culture and habits of the people in the new nation she inhabited, she is able to realize that holding a double identity is only natural for a woman of her background. The surprising challenge of coping with a double identity is existent due to the immigration from Britain to the West Indies. Lucy is able to hold the values of her own culture true to her native persona, but she is also able to recognize herself acquiring a second identity in order to assimilate into the culture of her new home.
Jamaica Kincaid’s Girl – a Proper Way for Women to Act in Society
The story of “Girl” by Jamaica Kincaid is a short story about a mother telling her adolescent daughter about the proper way to act and behave as a grown up to that will impress and please society which at that time, a masculine dominated world. The mother is listing off different commands and instructions telling her daughter about the ways to sew, cook, clean, and etc. The main theme of the story of this story is that females have an abnormal number of standards that society expects them to uphold and the failure to uphold these they are immediately looked down upon by men.
A majority of the section of the story is a set of instructions given to the daughter about how the proper way to sew and the proper care of clothing of her family. The author uses “This is how to sew on a button; this is how to make a . . . the hole for the button . . .” (Kincaid). It can be seen that the author is stating a very common stereotype and expectation of a female about knowing how to maintain clothing that could suffer wear and tear throughout the ages. The author is using sewing as an example for a decent section of the story as most everyone believes a girl should know the proper way to sew clothing. The author goes on to say “This is how to hem a dress . . . to prevent yourself from looking like a slut . . .” (Kincaid). The author again uses a reference back to sewing as an expectation but also brings in that a female who does not or cannot take care of their clothing, than society will begin looking down upon and judging the woman for simply not knowing how to sew and iron.
The author uses three separate references to the word slut. The author begins the references by saying “. . . try to walk like a lady and not like the slut you are so bent on becoming” (Kincaid). A reader can easily see that the author is using the part “. . . walk like a lady . . . ” as a symbol of just the proper way to behave as a lady. A lady is expected to act and behave a certain way and if such lady does not then they are looked down upon in the world, or as the author says “. . . like the slut . . .” This word might seem as if it is just a way to describe the adolescent to viewers but it is a way that the author is trying to get a point across to viewers discreetly that a female who does not act properly and live up to expectations than the society will look down on the woman and society will see her as a no good female that does not seem to take care of herself and has no self-esteem and care for anyone or anything and therefore could not make a proper wife and mother.
One of the final ways the author is trying to convey the theme is by mentioning the baker. As the author brings the story to a close in the last lines she mentions a baker saying “always squeeze the bread to make sure it’s fresh; what if the baker doesn’t let me . . .?; after all are you really going to be the kind the baker won’t near the bread?”(Kincaid). Reading this it seems the author is trying to say that females should stand up and fight the society breaking themselves from the constraints they have been placed in. specifically at this point in the story, “. . . really going to be the kind . . .” the reader can see the author is actually trying to say that females that tried to fight that current system, of the time, that society would look down on, label, and shun the woman, all because she simply yearns for wanting a difference in the world
After reading this story one can conclude that the author’s main theme of the story is about the expectations that society forces on women as they grow older; for example, such as taking care household chores, children, and husbands. When a female cannot live up to these expectation than the society in which she lives in looks down upon her and places negative labels upon her. These labels could easily lead the woman to live a poor and unhappy life as no man of this time would want such a woman. The lack of a husband and having children could result in the woman living in a depressed state of mind that might result in her being a menace to the society which as labeled her.
How Structure, Syntax, and Diction Help to Illustrate Gender Roles in Jamaica Kincaid’s Girl
Jamaica Kincaid illustrates a demanding mother setting rules for her daughter in the story Girl. A myriad of requests and commands are made within this short story. Though the story lacks elaboration, the structure, syntax, and diction of the passage helps to efficiently deliver overall impression that Kincaid aims at.
The structure of Girl is unique in that it is continuous. The entire story is comprised of one sentence peppered with numerous semicolons. A voluminous list of “dos” and “do nots” is all that this story really is. Yet, this list effectively gives the reader an impression of an overwhelmed young girl living in world with many barriers against women. The story punctuates the endless limitations that are imposed upon women of such cultural background by not including any punctuation at all. Although the structure is rather simple, it delivers the intended message about the vast amount of unspoken rules women are forced to live within.
Every single sentence is supposed to be unique; however, the syntax of Girl is extremely simple and repetitive. Observing each sentence, one can easily find certain common characteristics. One overlapping trait is that the verb of each sentence is located at or near the beginning. Such repetitive placement implies that the syntax was intended to allow the reader to sympathize with the supposed young girl in the story. In sentences like “cook pumpkin fritters in very hot sweet oil” and “soak salt fish overnight before you cook it”, the verb placement gives a imperative tone to each sentence. As a result, readers also sense a type of urgency and importance within these whimsical commands. Therefore, through imperative sentence usage, Kincaid conveys a sense of urgency to follow the rules of women and also implements the dark consequences if the girl chooses not to do so.
The diction of the passage is also basic. Vocabulary is not a strong suit of this narrator. “This is how to make a good medicine for a cold” and “This is how you smile to someone you like completely” are examples of sentences with elementary vocabulary. The usage of “good” and “like completely” suggest certain traits about the women of the story. Deprivation of education is one trait that can be inferred from such diction. Also the diction symbolizes the simplicity that these women are forced to live in. Although the flood of commands may make their lives seem complicated, the command adheres to one major command: keep the household running. The use of simple vocabulary within Girl shows the women’s lack of education as well as their constrained social roles.
All in all, Kincaid employs structure, syntax, and diction to give their respective messages about gender roles within Girl. Intertwining these three fundamental literary devices, Kincaid presents readers with a captivating insight into how social pressure and tradition have led to extremely limited amount of freedom to women.