Posts tagged ‘post-colonialism’

March 9, 2011

A Small Book With A Big Voice.

by karmill

The book, A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid, is difficult to categorize as a single genre. It could be considered an autobiography, yet could also be considered as History, Political, Travel, Opinion or general Non-Fiction. The book is an expression of the author’s opinions about her experiences as a child growing up on the British colonized island of Antigua, and her views on tourism, government, slavery, racism and unions. Throughout the text, Kincaid expresses her anger that, through no fault of its own, Antigua is no longer what it once was. She states that this is due to many factors, and discusses the Antigua that she knew as a child is not as it was because the ones who ran it, the British as colonizers, no longer run it. She also stresses that prior to her history, Antigua was affected by the European slave trade, the white man’s education system which ignored local custom, history and culture and taught only all things British.
Kincaid uses second person narrative in this book, which makes her statements and comments very direct and blunt to the reader. From the beginning, she uses the word you to address the reader, and begins as if one was a tourist arriving in Antigua. The narrative takes you, the tourist, from the plane through the town to the hotel, all the while projecting her opinions and thoughts onto you, the tourist, in a manner not very flattering. She continues this projection throughout the book, making you into the British rulers, corrupt governors, rich expatriates, all the time projecting her opinions onto each you character.
Kincaid introduces the subject of the formerly splendid, but now damaged library early in the book, explaining the damage from the Earthquake in 1974 and that repairs are pending. The library is used as a representation of everything wrong with how Antigua was treated, and is referenced several times during the book. She says that, as a tourist, you might think it part of the quaintness of the people, descended from slaves, and their unusual sense of time, and not to think of all the unpleasant history and struggles of these quaint people. The library is referred to again as a British colonial building, housing British culture, British values and especially British law. Kincaid then refers to the library nostalgically, lamenting the loss of the beauty, atmosphere, location by the ocean, and the wealth of books available. She mourns the fact that the collection from the old library is housed above a dry-goods store, with most of the books in dusty boxes, unavailable for use. Yet, the unkind expatriates with money will not provide the funds to repair the old library.
Kincaid refers to Antigua several times as a small place. For such a small place, many big events with huge repercussions happened there, and she defends the Antiguans with a very large voice. But, she is careful to point out that, in the end, we are all just human.

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April 1, 2009

Information for tourists!

by justineb89

Jamaica Kincaid, a native Antiguan, acts as a reader’s tour guide through the picturesque sights and fascinating history of A Small Place, Antigua.  Kincaid is a very passionate tour guide, who is an enormous wealth of information on Antiguan past, both as a colony of the British Empire and after its independence as a post-colonial state struggling to find stability. She demonstrates no inhabitations and is quite brutally honest, almost to the point of offence, regarding the treatment of Antigua, and Antiguans by the British colonists.

However then goes on to explain the backwardness of Antigua seen presently, Kincaid does this most effectively through the description of the library. As the library was built during colonial times and up kept nicely until and earthquake in 1974 caused great damage to the structure, which has never been repaired. Kincaid uses this example to illustrate the “corruption, of things gone bad” (42).

Furthermore, an author can easily take every time Kincaid says “Antigua” or “Antiguan” and place any other British or European colony in its place. As Kincaid’s take on colonialism is similar to the stories of many other post-colonial society’s struggling with poverty and government corruption.

Moreover I do not suggest readers to take this book, on vacation if they plan on staying in all-inclusive resort in Mexico, Cuba or the Caribbean, as it may ruin your trip. As within the first pages she describes a “North American (or worse) European” tourist as “ an ugly human being”, this is not a description I would want to give myself if I were sipping Mai Tai’s at the Sandals resort in Jamaica. It is, however a book, I would definitely suggest reading before making arrangements for an upcoming vacation, as it will give information about Antigua or any other post-colonial state, that no travel agency will dare tell their clients.

March 9, 2009

Not such a small thing after all….

by justineb89

Arundhati Roy begins her first and only novel The God of Small Things, with what seems to be a short story or synopsis of events that effectively shape a young girls life. Through the narrative of seven-year-old Rahel, Roy more thoroughly goes on to describe the conflict and tragedies of Rahel’s family, including her twin brother Estha, lonely but loving mother Ammu, violin playing grandmother Mammachi, Marxist Uncle Chacko and Enemy Aunt Baby Kochamma.

            The two-egged twins Rahel and Esthma are greatly affected by the visit of their English cousin Sophie Mol, during the Christmas 1969. During the visit Sophie dies due to an accidental drowning in the presence of Rahel and Esthma. The tragedy continues as the secret love affair between Ammu and her lover of a separate and lower caste Velutha is discovered, resulting in Velutha being brutally killed.

            The story will force readers to continue to keep the pages turning as it includes more drama then anyone can imagine. The use of a seven year old as a narrator for most of the novel allows readers to witness very mature and somewhat grotesque incidents, through the innocence and bluntness of a child’s interpretation.  The story includes more elements then any novel I have read, as elements sexuality, incest, death and racism ooze through the pages. Good things definitely come in small packages, as themes of love, tradition, and post-colonialism are all evident in these 321 pages. Arundhati Roy, although has moved on to work as an activist in her home country of India definitely can write in a way that keeps audiences captivated. The God of Small Things is absolutely a winner in my books as well as the winner of The Booker Prize in 1997, which Roy in my perspective was well deserved.

January 26, 2009

The White Man’s Burden: Quintessential Representation of Subjectivity in Post-Colonialism Africa

by valdesjoha

Robin Morris and Johannes Valdes

White Man’s Burden

Take up the White Man’s burden–
Send forth the best ye breed–Pears Soap Ad circa 1890's
Go bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives’ need;
To wait in heavy harness,
On fluttered folk and wild–
Your new-caught, sullen peoples,
Half-devil and half-child.

Take up the White Man’s burden–
In patience to abide,
To veil the threat of terror
And check the show of pride;
By open speech and simple,
An hundred times made plain
To seek another’s profit,
And work another’s gain.

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