Cconfused In The Caribian Essay, Research Paper
The British have influenced the perspective of the Caribbean people in many ways. The people’s self awareness, religion, language, and culture has coped with the influx of British ideals and in coping, the people have changed to appease the islands’ highly influential British population. Three excepts highly influenced by the British ideals are “Crick Crack Monkey” by Merle Hodge, “My Aunt Gold Teeth” by V. S. Naipaul, and “If I could Write This in Fire, I Would Write This in Fire” by Michelle Cliff. All three excepts show the among the people of the islands, whether native or foreign. In examining the three passages, each author presents a unique perspective. Hodge’s story is presented through the eyes of a black , lower class girl of Trinidad in the 1950s. Naipaul uses an unidentified East Indian boy to tell his story. A young white girl becomes the narrator of cliff’s excerpt. By using Cliff’s perspective to examine the perspective of the other two passages. A unique interpretation of the British influence on the Caribbean people develops.
Friction among people of different color is clearly displayed within the writings; However, looking at the story of “Crick Crack Monkey” through the eyes of a young white girl, rather than a young black girl, the reader might see the injustice and the ethnic discrimination that a black person must endure. She would not be accustomed to being called a “little black nincompoop” (Hodge 457), and she would most likely not have to suffer a physical beating with a ruler (Hodge 456). In Lady Aunt Gold Teeth, the issue of color is evident through the aunt’s religious affiliation. Changing the color of the narrator in My Aunt Gold Teeth might make a difference in the way the person perceives their aunt. For example, the narrator says, “I was rather ashamed at the exhibition” (Na 463), when his aunt appears to have “got the spirit” (CS 462). The Indian boy is probably more ashamed of the aunt’s reference to “Hail Mary” than her physical exhibition. From the perspective of a white Anglican child at that time, the behavior of the aunt would be acceptable and understandable, but for the Indian boy, brought up on Hinduism, such actions would seem foreign and confusing. Racism is evident in the writings by Caribbean authors, and their intent to expose the British as the perpetrators of the racism is
also apparent when looking at it through a white girl’s perspective.
Religious confusion is another result of the British occupation in the Caribbean. Both Hodge and Naipaul use their writing to expose the problems Caribbean people experience with religion. The influence of the church is made apparent in the writings by all three authors. A striking example can be found on page 455 in Hodge’s story “Crick Crack Monkey”. The narrator of the story tells how the students made “sound” at the beginning and at end of each class period. The “sound” were the classic English “Our Father”, the children did not understand the words. The children just memorized the sounds and not the actual meaning. Hodge writes the sound Mrs. Hind attempt to redeem the children; however, this is in the perspective of a adult looking back at her childhood, at the time the “Our Father” was just sound. Another example, “every Sunday afternoon Tantie dressed Toddan and me and sent us to the Pentecost Sunday-school in preference to that of the Anglican church” (Hodge 455); however, in school “under Mrs. Hind’s direction we would recite Children of the Empire Ye Are Brothers All” (Hodge 454). Hodge wrote of both religious experiences to show the confusion that the children were undergoing, In the other passage by Naipaul, a similar confusion exists. “Aunt Gold Teeth” is confused by the barrage of propaganda by the various religious groups, and “every day her religious schizophrenia gr[ows]” (Naipaul 459). In trading the narrators’ perspectives, one can assume the young white girl would react differently to the situation than the Indian boy. Assuming the white girl believes in Christianity, she would probably be happy, rather than confused, about the aunt’s conversion in faith. The authors clearly show the people’s confusion with religion, and in the process, they show the problem lies in the people’s lack of self-awareness.
In “My Aunt Gold Teeth”, Aunt Gold Teeth saw religion as a form of power (Naipaul 458). She was very powerful in her Hindu religion. Aunt Gold Teeth sought other religions to gain even more power. Naipaul writes of Ganesh and his successes in his profession for one major reason (461). Ganesh is successful because, he is willing to incorporate many faiths in his work. Naipaul used Ganesh to show Aunt Gold Teeth the power in “using” different faiths. Simply put, Ganesh was just wood for the varied religious fire that Aunt Gold Teeth was building.
A inadequacy in education unifies all three excerpts, and in doing so, it naturally focuses attention on the politics of the Caribbean islands involved in the passages. An obvious example of the education and political problems occur in the “Crick Crack Monkey” when Mr. Thomas says, “I tell yu I ain’ have no more room in ABC” (Hodge 451). This indicates a lack of educational facilities, and it also shows that the educators are not properly educated. At the time the story was written, Britain still occupied the island of Trinidad, and therefore, they should have been responsible for the education of all people. Naipaul also shows the deficiency in education through an indirect method. “The District Medical officer at Chaguanas said it was [Ramprasad had] diabetes, but “Aunt Gold Teeth knew… …her religious transgression was the cause” (Naipaul 459). The lack of common sense shows the extent of the education problems. Looking at the situation through the perspective of the white girl in Cliff’s story, a totally different picture would unfold. For if Gold Teeth received an education equivalent to a white person, she would be able to discern that her change in religion would not affect her husbands health. Caribbean writers clearly express the inadequacies in the education system, and the problems can be traced to the British occupancy.
A final affect the British had on the people of the Caribbean was the loss of their identity, and the lack of personal identity is express throughout their literature. For instance in crick
Crack Monkey, the story talks of black children looking at pictures of “children with yellow hair kneeling with their hands clasped and their faces upturned toward some kind of sun that had one fat ray coming down at them” (CS 457). In teaching Christianity to the black children, the British gave the children a warped concept of their identity, and as the narrator states, “I had a pretty good idea of what kind of a place Glory must bell (CS 457). Looking at the situation through the white girl’s perspective in Cliff’s excerpt, no loss of self-identity would occur with a white girl in a similar situation. In “My Aunt Gold Teeth”, a similar loss of identity occurs when Aunt Gold Teeth cannot accept the Hindu religion (CS 459). The concept of loosing individual identity is a consist theme used by Caribbean authors, and it is directly associated with the British occupation.
With “Crick Crack Monkey”, Hodge was showing the confusion of childhood in the Caribbean. The first day of school was not as simple as packing of lunch and walking to school. There was a long drawn out confusing process to find a school. When a school finally starts, it is as if the children were in another country with different beliefs and cultures. Hodge used Caribbean slang to confuse the read, to better show the confusion of the child and to show the differences between school and at home. On page 456 the narrater is confused about something that was said at school. When the narrater recalls the situation she switch to slang thus slightly throwing the reader off and emphasizing confusion.
A myriad of problems are left from the British control in the Caribbean, and these problems are consistently alluded to in Caribbean literature. Problems with racism, religion, education, identity, and many others exist in Caribbean culture right now. However, as the British have slow exited the Caribbean scene, the U.S. has increased it’s presence in the Caribbean due to the strategic location of the islands. The influx of people is politically and economically activated. Without the outside world and the confusion it brings with it, the Caribbean would economically collapse, and with the intrusion of the outside world, the Caribbean people become confused with their identity’s. Perhaps one day the vicious circle will be solved, but until then, Caribbean writers will keep fighting for the justice their people deserve.