How Late it was, How late

by billyev

Bill Everitt

How late it was, How late (HL) is the compelling story of an unfortunate man within a society which is still trying to establish its self determination.  Sammy Samuels is representative of a larger population of people within Scotland as well as other colonized countries, who have more or less been marginalized as a country by England (and similar colonial powers).

In his acceptance speech for the Booker prize, James Kelman said “A fine line can exist between elitism and racism,” and that “On matters concerning language and culture, the distinction can sometimes cease to exist altogether.”   Sammy’s experiences with the law and the DSS show the ancient remains of the colonial infrastructure; even the language they use is different from people who actually live in Scotland (Sammy using a dialect particular to Glasgow, while all authorities utilizing “the Queens English”).  Kelman’s use of the Scottish vernacular, tied with his stream of consciousness writing style is unique in that it tells a story of an individual and his actual thought patterns.  Would we say then that without the stream of consciousness his point would be lost? Could Sammy’s blindness be metaphorical of the disability many post-colonial countries now deal with? In which different ways did colonization suppress and continue to suppress Scottish culture?

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2 Comments to “How Late it was, How late”

  1. I would agree that Sammy’s blindness might be metaphorical of the disability many post-colonial countries now deal with. Like post colonial countries that have been blinded from their responsibilities while they were dependent on colonial powers, so is Sammy whose life is dependent on an income he receives from the authorities. Now that post colonial countries are independent they have trouble in making it on their own as they can’t watch for themselves and have to turn for help to more powerful countries again. The same is the case with Sammy, who can’t literally see and thus he can’t look after himself. He then leaves to England (the colonial power!) in his attempt to ameliorate his situation.
    It shows how it is the system that handicaps people as they get use to depend on it, so then when they have to make it on their own they fail to do so.

  2. I really like the parallel you guys drew between Sammy’s blindness and the cycle of dependency faced by post-colonial countries. Because we are so exposed to the issues and downfalls faced by an individual in this story, it is easier to conceptualize and relate to the more vast and ambiguous problems faced by an entire culture. Sammy’s interpretation of events leads us to believe that the “fine line” mentioned by Kelman has certainly been crossed in terms of culture. The stream of consciousness writing style combined with Sammy’s raw experiences with his blindness combine to keep us locked in a state of chaos and unfamiliarity which is relative to the disabilities and challenges left behind by colonialism. I think that the most significant way in which colonization suppressed Scottish culture is by perpetuating a sense of identity which is incomplete or invaluable without the continuous presence of the colonial power. As mentioned above, this is evident on a personal level when Sammy goes to England in search of something that he can’t find at home.

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