Name: Course: Date: I Used to Live Here Once by Jean Rhys Jean Rhys was born in the British colony of Dominica in West Indies in 1890. Her father was white while her mother was a Creole white, implying she was a white born in the Dominican community, but with her ancestry in Britain…
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The story is thus more of an autobiography where the author talks about her life. The title of the story is symbolic as she wrote many literary works about the Dominican Republic during her school in Britain. The short story I Used to Live Here Once is a small story in a collection of stories Sleep It off Lady. Therefore, the story is symbolic as it amplifies the despair, loneliness, and psychological trauma that come along with isolation in the persona life as she lacks a real identity and people to identify with. Frickey (100) explains that the story being very short has been symbolically placed in the novel to signify a case of finale, which may signify the return of Rhys after many years of exile to Dominican Republic. The strong emotional presentation of the persona’s return in the story is crucial because of an important incidence in her life. The story is presented in a third person presentation, implying the narrator is not part of the story, which may signify lack of identity as the narrator was removed from her ancestral home, she lost her identity and she presents herself as another person in case of duality. The title signifies the narrator is the main actor, but the use of third person may reflect loss of identity as explained. The story is an emotional reflection, where the persona recalls her past life, and the developments that had occurred with her absence, recounting the mysterious journeys in life and the effects they had in her life. The fragmentation is the main style employed in the narrative: the author balances the present and past throughout the story, in connecting memories and the present until the end. Symbolism is another major stylistic device employed by the author. At the beginning, the author describes her surroundings as a “blue day,” and that the sky looked “glassy” (Rhys 358). The blue day is symbolic of the clarity that the narrator remembers all events and her past life in the place she used to call home. However, glassy represents the new ‘unremembered’ life that signifies the new life as she closes the river to search for her lost heavens. The sky looks glassy therefore signifies the unclear that she steps into after closing the river. This glassy and blue sky looks portray the reflections of the persona between the past that she clearly remembers, and knew, and a new life that is not clear to her. Frickey further argues that “she” is extraordinarily happy walking alone, recognizing the previous settings and noting the changes (100). Everything was thus much clear the persona, making her happy. The novel starts as she is standing at the bank of a river, watching the flowing water, remembering each stepping stone (Rhys 358), and everything was as she remembered. Flowing water is symbolic of the rolling wheels of life. The persona is reflecting on how life has passed, and she clearly remembers each detail of her life as symbolized by stones. The unsafe stone was perhaps what had caused her disconnect and removal from her ancestral home; as agitation by the natives increased symbolized by overflowing water, they were forced to exile. Wilson (68) explains that Rhys was just like other people who were forced to exile and disconnected from their ancestry, and their past. The session at the river therefore signifies reflection of how life has passed and the events that have happened since they were removed from their land. The theme of isolation and
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A comparison between I Used to Live Here Once and Nothing Gold can Stay. A comparison of the two works, I Used to Live Here Once by Jean Rhys and Nothing Gold can Stay by Robert Frost present to the critic rich possibilities. The two works are very different in many ways and hence enable a contrast between the authorial intents and the contexts that are inhabited by the authors of the works.
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