The Jamaica Kincaid We Don’t Want to Understand

Hail King Kincaid, for she is ferocious uncompromising honest and brave. Jamaica Kincaid spends a lot of her time dispensing what a critic so accurately put, awful truths; truths people spend a lot of time trying not to acknowledge. Understanding this Jamaica Kincaid takes us on a journey of discovery. We did not intend to travel on or wanted to, but once there we are familiar with the landscape. Even though we’ve never been there before; however our existence now, depended on our familiarity with said scene, then.

In “The Autobiography Of My Mother” Jamaica Kincaid has us on this road. Strange at it may seem Jamaica Kincaid’s autobiography of her mother is similar to the autobiography of my mother, your mother, our mothers, of mothers past and mothers to be. For, in revealing Xuela’s story that starts with her mother death. Jamaica Kincaid’s story is the story of her mother. Kincaid’s mom’s story like Lamarckism or osmosis unveils itself in Kincaid’s amniotic fluid, like the colonial history of her beloved island is exposed to Jamaica Kincaid in a foreign land. Xuela did not have to live on that little island or meet her mother. They’re consequences of her upbringing. Like genetic evolution or ideology repeated over and over; her identity her island pride revealed in another country; a set of contradictions and ambivalence that come to define, or mess with, our lives.

But what is so awful about that. Well, this is the exciting part. Kincaid is sexual, very sexual without apology or shame. A big deal, because sexuality like’s a lot of contradiction, interlopers, shame, and guilt. Present themselves in all matters sexual hell-bent on defining us. Their presences are Kincaid’s nemesis. There to be conquered with Kincaid’s empowering sexuality. Shame and guilt make their appearance in “Girl” for criticizing the preadolescent daughter for squeezing bread. And for being the kind of person for whom the baker will not let squeeze the merchandise. Criticized for playing marble in a skirt. Criticized for the way, Xuela wears her hair or Lucy’s smells.

Kincaid’s mother like her island’s morality is there to engage her. And if you pay attention they will reveal awful truths. Not just in your life but that of your mother. However unremitting, Kincaid is showing a need for love with her willingness to engage. This quest for love will eventually define her. Like her little island. And her dead mother. Available only in the arms of someone else’s husband to be conquered. Or in a foreign land and symbols: the white man, white lady; also to be captured by this woman who arrived on a banana boat.

Xuela Claudette Richardson, our protagonist, is sensual like Kincaid. She revels in sexuality exposed in her unloved life. What Xuela seeks in her sexuality is the feeling she is missing. A nemesis, not a lover. She is looking for someone to love or, hate; Her sexuality like the Phoenix rises from the ashes of her mother, like all of us. Kincaid “accept that we’re living in incredible contradictions and ambivalence”. Xuela is lonely without her mother and father. And she substitutes that loneliness with a sexual appetite. She is hungry, but she is aware of her hunger. And she takes control. She is not overwhelmed by sex; she embraces sex as a friend a companion whose company she enjoys, a trollop like “mother like daughter”. Like the death of her mother she comes to terms with sex, it’s natural.

And control Xuela does. She describes her lover: “He was like most of the men I know, obsessed with an activity he was not very good at…” Xuela is not in need of sex, the activity. She is in need of sex, the feeling; a feeling misplaced in contradictions and disappointments – her mother. With sex, Kincaid is a conqueror. Why did mother had to die? But her mother is alive, alive in her, revealing herself in causalities of Xuela’s life.

For Xuela had “long ago came to recognize this as perhaps an unremitting part of the way I am and so I looked for a man who could offer relief from this sensation”. Kincaid tells us this story, as she is about to unravel her breast with its pointed fruit purple nipples she writes are in a state of constant sensation. Xuela needs a man to suck her nipples to relieve the irritable feeling. Kincaid is taking control conquering like her mother.

While Xuela was alone caressing herself. She purposely trapped her hands In the hair between her legs. She remembers a man. The man she knew, a man she dreamed of, a man who was away, a man she wanted on top of her. Not the man currently on top, for he is not at all the person she dreamt of laying on top of her. For that dream belong to another woman’s husband. And it made sense that she wants this other woman’s husband, benign though it maybe it is a conquest. And Xuela like Kincaid is a conqueror.

Emotionally and physically Xuela is on the attack. Her little island, colonized by Britain. Guarded against innuendoes of uncivilized creatures only fit for banana production. The colonizers metaphorically represented with a white skin wrapped in English culture will be vanquished. Kincaid rages against the Colonial spirit, “a spirit that lives on in hierarchies of skin color. Moira, her lover’s wife came to symbolize the epitome of colonial culture. She was pleased to be of the English people. It’s where she drew her sense of identity full of charitable sympathies for others with contradictions, and many complaints. She too will be vanquished.

Like Kincaid’s provincial West Indies counterpart. The Jamaican dancehall queen, the one called Lady Saw who boasts: ” I Got Your Man, And You Can’t Do Anything About It / You May Think He Is Coming Back To You But… I Doubt It / Don’t Make No Sense, You Even Call Ur Man, Try To Work Out It /’cause I Got Your Man, And You Can’t Do Anything About It”. Kincaid, however, is worldly and brutal with her attacking, even deadly. In describing Moira, Kincaid gives an accurate accounting of the vain selflessness of colonialism. She Moira, a lady “a combination of elaborate fabrications, a collection of external, facial arrangements, and body parts, distortions, lies, and empty efforts”. Moira is far above the ordinary woman who moans during sex and grunts when excreting. Unladylike Xuela is a woman, common and indistinguishable from the next. Lady Moira far from sympathetic to others is a contradiction and ambivalence of self-hate of dehumanization and false sympathies, a liar to herself.

Blunt, brutal shameless is Kincaid, and wow Selfish, at least with her protagonist Xuela. In describing her sex with Phillip. At the moment, it started to wane, and she was not a prisoner of that primitive and essential feelings, orgasm, and sex. At the time when Phillip was attenuating to her pudenda. Her mind wonders to Roland for a new source of pleasure- Wow! Kincaid’s honesty is so not human. And one of those awful truths well, genuinely human truths. Again, Kincaid hints at the influence of her mother in dealing with the pleasures in her life. For he Ronald was a married stevedore the same kind of men as her father; He too will be conquered symbolically.

Not that conquering is easy. For him to be conquered she most first, love honestly, truthfully. For Ronald serves as an essential emotional symbol. Xuela aware of the consequences asserts: “who would betray whom, who would’ve captive, who would be captor, who would give and who would take, what would I do”. And what she does, is take no prisoners, brutality, honestly: “for I could not have loved Ronald the way I did if he did not love other women.” She said this after Ronald’s wife slapped her upside her head – hard! To which Xuela replied without bitterness, “I consider it beneath me to fight over a man.”

And in the middle of a “fight” Xuela gives perspective. While her clothing is rented, her mind is on the sensation of Phillip sucking her nipples. Encouraging her breast, dividing herself in two. For Xuela could not decide which feeling she wanted to dominate over the other. One breast into Phillip’s mouth or the sensation of the saliva evaporating on the one that just left his mouth. In the middle of a fight! With a heavy handed married West Indian woman whose is hell-bent on keeping her man. Even producing a list of names, of another woman who presumably she’d slapped. Undaunted Xuela declares she possesses herself. Phillip will be another on her list; and that his wife’s anger, like her Sunday best, and intentions are misplaced.

Why The Color Purple Sets a Tone Of Controversy

A good book may go with you until your bedtime but a best book will be with you for a lifetime. For instance, there are some timeless treasures of American Literature beginning with ‘THE COLOR PURPLE’ by Alice Walker. Why am I citing this specific example? It is because I am going to base this article on its theme, storyline, plot, and characters.

The color purple explores the fall and rise of a young African-American woman called Celie Johnson. There is a hue of fear, exploitation, horrid teenage years, and abuse by one’s stepfather. Alice has carefully kept out the vivid images of life through celie’s perspective and why not as whole of the book is celie’s journey from hell to heaven and from downfall to rise.

When this novel came out, it received mixed reactions from the black Americans as the abuse came from the community itself. Walker’s work on the other hand was a pioneer in the sense of history. This book actually created a lot many controversies in the American fiction. It represents the idea of slavery in the Negro community that destroys the basic unit and infrastructure of the society that is family. Money on the other hand was another major horror that this people faced. Young children and especially teenage girls were sold or married to oldies to have money and farming animals. It was as if making slaves and the masters that resided in the families sold them off without having a second thought. We always take an example and recite all the time that our families are there to protect us but here family led the young girls to slavery, exploitation, bullying and mental abuse. If there were no families, there would be no slavery, no community, no unity, and no society. This sounds like hell but this is true. No effective protests were seen, and as we read the book, we actually can picture the girl who is forced to become a woman and how she finds love in the same-sex relationship. (Celie and Shug Avery). The writer does not follow the usual track of black and white mechanism of slavery but black on black exploitation effect. Here, the lower class is not only affected by the whites but also by their own people.

Alice is African-American woman writing about and for the African-American people. The evil comes from the same community. Walker by this brave attempt explores the grey areas pervading in her own community. This was not an easy task. She got death-threats and killer letters from people because all of them were hoping to see this as a ‘white-perspective’ novel. It is easier to throw off the blame on other’s shoulders because we cannot acknowledge our own faults. (Is it not?). In this context, the roles are literally changed. Immense contradiction is reflected and terrible backlash is seen.

Do You Will To Have A Painful Destiny?

Isabel Archer is the towering figure of the Portrait of a Lady. Henry James is the author of the novel. He has very beautifully portrayed the curving journey of a young woman’s wish to live free. She thinks that she is powerful to cut the chains of paternity. Set in the 1870’s it tells us how Isabel has a dreamlike quality of being mysteriously attractive and undoubtedly intelligent. Since the beginning, we see her in a meditative mood as if she is reflecting over something serious and that was the marriage proposal with Lord Warburton. If you have seen the movie, Nicole Kidman enacts the role and it makes us easier for us to understand. There are tears in her eyes but she does not let them fall. It is symbolic. Another charming young man Casper Goodwood who is a bit fiercer in the aspect of persuasion is proposing her. Isabel rejects both of them. This woman has large ideas about her life, and she wants to make them without men’s aid. Going ahead through the novel, we find that she has charmed her cousin Ralph Touchett as well. He is a sick man and is hopelessly in love with her but meets a negative fate. Isabel does not do this on purpose but the playwright has tried to show the feminine perspective through the hands of men. Isabel believes in love, but she also believes in struggles and painful life. When approached by Lord Warburton, she politely declines his proposal by saying that she likes him but cannot marry. He is eager to know the reason but she remains silent.

Isabel is the live example of what a woman hopes and desires to live a liberal life. Going out in the world and exploring people is her core wish. She wants to take risks and win over dangerous situations. Over here, Archer believes that her life is going to be painful and miserable. This does not mean that she is thinking of committing suicide. This is the harsh fact of life but everyone chooses to ignore it. The wise readers will react to Isabel as being immature and a naysayer, but I believe it is her choice to live this way. She does not believe in hearts and flowers but pain and endurance. Some readers have vehemently declined her thoughts by saying she has a weird perspective of being miserable. I say if your life imparts you pain it also renders a shelter a shoulder to burden all your tears. Isabel is wandering to find that shoulder. She does not want to compromise on her fate. Our female protagonist sincerely believes that she will be unhappy and her destiny will let her have the novel experiences. Marital chains will only stop her from having her slice of life and she strongly opposes this fact. Her dearest friend Henrietta Stackpole meets her in London and is very surprised by her deviant attitude. She was even more shocked to realise that Archer rejected Warburton. Henrietta is a reporter by profession and is a symbol of feminism in those days. Henrietta misjudges the noble people’s sentiments and calls Casper Goodwood “I have never seen an ugly man look so handsome”, when he talked about his wish of marrying Isabel. Ralph on the other hand mixes with Henrietta and demands to know why Isabel refused Warburton. He practically blackmailed her to know but she gives a rational answer. He knows Isabel very well and wants to save her from her fate but cannot do anything as he is about to die. The playwright has made him a spectator as he looks on to Isabel’s life.

James has candidly divulged into a female’s perspective about life, love, and marriage. Through the medium of Casper Goodwood, he shows us the respective mannerisms of single and married women. They have a code of conduct to follow. The lines, “An unmarried woman- a girl of your age- isn’t independent. There are all sorts of things she can’t do. She’s hampered at every step.” These lines show the open ascendancy of the person. Then the fact of allowing her to have happiness and dangers is another patriarchal morsel that he wants to feed her on. This is exactly what Isabel dislikes but her fate takes an ugly turn as she marries Gilbert Osmond the archetypal villain with his partner Madame Merle and an innocent daughter.