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Small Island as Exploration of the Other - Essay Example

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This discussion talks that throughout much of history, stories have typically been told from the perspective of a single viewpoint – that of the dominant culture. In many cases, the voices of the conquered have been subjugated under the expected reactions of the dominating group…
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Small Island as Exploration of the Other
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Download file to see previous pages The book attempts to tell the experience of Jamaican immigrants attempting to make a new start in war-torn, racist and still highly class-conscious England in the late 1940s. It focuses on the difficulties experienced by the characters as they attempt to simply live their lives as well as providing some insight into the reactions of those of the dominant culture as they come to realize the truth as it differs from their convenient fiction. There are a number of ways in which the ideas within this book can be understood as an exploration into the inherent problems of imperialism and the misunderstandings it fosters both in the dominated population and in the dominating population. The forces at work depend upon hatred, racism, misunderstanding, and misrepresentation to achieve the separation of powers deemed necessary for exploitation but are rarely able to perpetuate the charade once personal connections are made as is demonstrated in Levy’s depiction of London.
Levy’s book begins with a prologue that introduces one of the four main characters. Queenie is introduced as a child during an event at which she encounters her first real black person. Although the ‘adults’ she is with make fun of the black woman they see, Queenie is astonished to find herself speaking with a black man who graciously shakes her hand before giving the rude older people directions. Hearing of the event later in the day, Queenie’s father explains to her that the man must have been the equivalent of a prince in his own country because those are the only ones who can afford to go to school and learn to speak proper English, thus establishing the prevailing attitude of Londoners regarding the ‘barbarian’ races. The main character introduced in chapter one is Hortense, an illegitimate child from Jamaica raised by cousins of her father. She has worked hard to achieve a respected English accent and education and dreams. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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