Sample Music Paper on Jamaica Kincaid
Jamaica Kincaid is a Caribbean woman writer. Through her writing, Kincaid challenges Caribbean specific histories, feminism and culture. Through her works, Kincaid takes the reader through the themes of mother-daughter relationships, gender and sexuality and the colonization of her hometown Antigua.
Kinkaid’s first work of fiction, a short story titled Girl appeared in the New Yorker in 1977 (Edwards, 22). The story is told in a voice that is quite distinct from her previous pieces. The voice of Girl delves into many layers of discourse, and the story explores the way n which a mother’s language can affect the psychological state of her daughter. In fact, the oppressive voice of the mother lies behind the words that see to be resonating in the head of the child. The story is not composed using the conventions of narrative development or sequential coherence. Instead the reader is presented with a long detailed list of commands and rules that speaks to the internalization of discourse in the mother-daughter relationship as well as the regulations of specific gender codes of conduct.
The voice of the mother holds a commanding presence in the story, suggesting that one is never truly free of the maternal voice and the instructions that pass from mother to daughter. The mother in Girl believes that she is doing what is best for her child. She thinks that she is teaching her daughter about the world, instructing her about practical matters that will help the child live in this environment. The mother moves from nurturing words to expression of attack and disrupts clear communication on issues of gender and sexuality. “Walk like a lady and not a slut” (“Girl” 3). The mother expresses sense and inevitability concerning her daughter’s rebellion against her gender and sexual rules that she utters “the slut I know you are so bent on becoming” (“Girl” 3). A contradiction thus arises through the contrast of the mother’s instructions and the simultaneous recognition that the girl will never live up to the social codes of behavior that the mother is trying to teach. The girl in the story is trapped in this world-a world dominated by the all-powerful voice of a mother from whom she cannot escape. The maternal voice is both mesmerizing and paralyzing. “For I could not be sure whether for the rest of my life I would be able to tell when it was really my mother and when it was really her shadow standing between me and the rest of the world” (“Annie” 107). In order for the girl to develop and grow as an individual, she must escape from the oppressive world of her mother. The figure below shows Kincaid, her daughter and her mother. This is the semblance of the close mother-daughter relationship the protagonist Annie and her mother.
Figure 1: Kinkaid, Annie (daughter) and Annie Drew (mother)
The mother-daughter relationship continues in the novel Annie. In the last chapters of Annie john, Kincaid depicts the last gasp of the mother-daughter relationship. Here, Annie and her mother are engaged in a battle over the kind of woman Annie will become. But Kincaid also links this power struggle to the colonial situation of Antigua. Indeed, symbolically speaking, a connection is drawn between the mother country of the colonizer and the infantilized state of the colonized nation. European dominance within a colonial framework, then mirrors the mother-daughter disharmony as well as the shifting patterns of rebellion and independence. Both these sources of power (the mother and the colonizer) are represented as limiting to the growth and subjectivity of the individual.
Antigua became self governing in 1967, but did not achieve the status of an independent nation within common wealth until 1981 (Haas, 4). Within the British educational system imposed upon Antiguans, Kincaid grew to detest everything about their colonizers. She felt negative effects of British colonialism, as the colonists tried to turn Antigua into England and the natives into English without regard for the native culture of her homeland. The effects of colonialism serve as one of the major themes of her writings in which Kincaid expresses her anger and confusion both at the colonists and the Antiguans. Annie for instance describes a history class in which she is taught to revere and mythologize European icons who were responsible for the colonization of Antigua and the spread of slavery in America. This practice of colonial school systems make Annie very confused and disrupts a clear sense of identity. Annie and other children know that they are the descendants of those enslaved by the British, but at the same time they are taught to empathize with the British colonial project. On hand they seek to condemn the British for the crimes of the past but on the other hand they are forced to salute the Union Jack and “swear allegiance” to England (“Annie” 115)
A Small Place doubles as an anti colonial postcolonial polemic. Kincaid temporarily abandons the facade of fiction while at the same time recognizing that polemic can rarely be unmediated Chronicle. In A small place, the concentration on mother-daughter relationships that characterized Girl and Annie John has shifted to explicit assault on a colonial mother or motherhood. “Antigua is small island….It was settled by human rubbish from Europe” (“A Small Place” 80).
Kincaid’s works are an ongoing story that plays itself against a broader historical and more explicit political canvas. The mother-daughter is the most common theme in most of her works. Like the protagonists in Annie John and Girl, Kincaid had a difficult relationship with her mother. Annie John and A Small Place are based in Antigua which is Kincaid’s hometown. Kincaid’s writing is autobiographical and the events in her works are close to her own personal experiences.
Edwards, Justin D. Understanding Jamaica Kincaid. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2007. Print.
Haas, Loretta. The Mother Theme in Jamaica Kincaid’s Fiction. München: GRIN Verlag, 2010. Print.
Kincaid, Jamaica. Girl. San Francisco: San Francisco Examiner, 1991. Print
Kincaid, Jamaica. Annie John. , 1997. Print.
Kincaid, Jamaica. A Small Place. , 2000. Print.