Why does Caribbean literature frequently demand readers question dominant epistemologies? (10 points)Caribbean literature often time demands readers to question dominant epistemologies as a way for us to form a connection between what we already know and what we learn from the “outside world”. The outside world referring to things that are new, different and have no knowledge of. It forces readers to think about how much we don’t understand and don’t have access to. Whatever our knowledge is based on, it is already limited. Hence, what I may know, may make it hard for me to relate to a culture I know nothing about.
It also allows us to prove how valid our knowledge is.1A. Using one story from Kingston Noir and The Pagoda, explain how two writers illustrate your answer to question (20 points)An example from The Pagoda would be when readers discover that Lowe is actually passing as a woman and not a man. As I read, I had no knowledge on what was the reason for creating this new identity was. I was not familiar with what was happening in his country, China. Hence, why he migrated to Jamaica.
Without understanding the identity Lowe created for himself, I can no longer perceive the Caribbean as everyone having the same identity. I am forced to question why such things are happening throughout the novel. In the story “White Gyal With The Camera” reader’s question the epistemologies as well. If one is not aware of the political implications of Jamaica and how hard it is to achieve racial unity, it becomes difficult to understand why things are the way they are. One’s knowledge of the history of Jamaica is limited as they they do not know about the personal histories of people. If we don’t come from such history, we have no access.
2. Consider Stuart Hall’s claim that “We all write and speak from a particular place and time, from a history and a culture which is specific. What we say is always ‘in context,’ positioned” (234). Where and how do we see this play out in the form and content of Midnight Robber? Give one example of each (form and content) to support your answers. (25 points)It is not clear who tells the stories within the bigger story of this book. However, I would assume it is Granny Nanny because she is the one who controls and knows everything of the planet in which Tan Tan lives on.
The stories she tells is always positioned and contextualized. It signifies the culture and tradition of the African Diaspora. The folktales are a way for her to recreate the experiences of her history. Thus, Granny Nanny will always speak from this time and place because it is all she knows.
It is what shaped her own experiences and life. She then transfers this knowledge and Tan Tan now speaks from this place. It is what she is exposed to. The form of the book is not an obvious one as it does not tell a story through pictures or diagrams. However, the way the text is written does force you to think about who is speaking and how difficult it is for that person to speak. For example, when Abitefa speaks, her words are bold. The way it is written, shows outsiders looking in that it is different but we don’t exactly know why. However, the author does this on purpose because not everything is suppose to be told to us.
Because they speak from this particular time and what they say is positioned, they must keep some of what they know and keep the readers away from the meaning and choices they make.3. In Soucouyant, what is the significance of the story Meera tells about the graduation party? How does this section shed light on two other parts of the novel? (25 points)The story of the graduation party that Meera told signifies how different she is from the other students. She is the only colored in the group of conversation and the white students begin to point out things they perceive as negative about people of the same race as Meera. They don’t seem too happy that Meera has gained a scholarship because they don’t think she is good enough compared to them. They made fun of the race as one prankster “did himself up in shoe polish and knocked on the wandering lady’s door, pretending to be a relative and demanding that she cook him a big old meal of grits and gumbo”(168). The story signifies the ridicule and oppression the black race and culture faced in past history.
It was a way for her to bring these memories forward and emphasize how the whites view the history of her race. This sheds light on the many different times Adele faced discrimination. As she entered a restaurant, she was kicked out because she is a black women. Multiple of men began to approach her as a prostitute (50). These stories also coincide with the section of the book when Adele and her husband go on a honeymoon and come back to their apartment destroyed. The white neighbors denied that they were the ones using their apartment while they were gone and afterwards, destroyed it.
Altogether, each of these stories represent the memories that each character tries to repress. They don’t want to remember the history of their past but it eventually begins to come forth at different stages of their life.4. How the concept of “opportunity” via migration differently addressed by Earl Lovelace in “Joebell and America” and Robert Antoni in As Flies to Whatless Boys? (30 points)Through the story “Joebell and America”, Earl Lovelace demonstrates the notion of committing a crime as a means to obtaining an opportunity via migration. Joebell represents the ways in which an individual will do anything and wont stop by any means to achieve his goal. Taking a risk, gambling and posing as an “American” was his way of getting out of Trinidad in order to live the American dream. However, using crime as a way to get what he wanted, resulted in him getting caught.
This opportunity is now not possible and will never be possible. His chances of coming to America is very little now as he says “two police weighed down with all their keys and their handcuffs and their pistols and their nightstick and torchlight enter and clink their handcuffs on my hands. They catch me”. However, in As Flies to Whatless Boys opportunity via migration was solely because the family wanted a better life. There was a threat of people migrating into their homeland and taking away their jobs. On page 103 it states “when our people are informed that there are countless thousands of coolies,, inured to a tropical climate, starving in their own country, and most willing to emigrate to the West Indies, it may be the means of opening their eyes a little to the necessity of working more steadily and giving greater satisfaction to their employers”.
Migrating away from their own country to Trinidad wasn’t part of their plan in order to be successful. The group of English, Portuguese, Indo- Caribbean and indentured labourers represents the idea of white in the Caribbean. They are the ones who essentially build what the Caribbean is and become successful people by leaving their own people to control others who have no power or money. 5. There are several high moments during Midnight Robber, but what would you say is the climax? How does locating this moment as the climax shed light on how we should read one other scene in the novel? (15 points)The climax of Midnight Robber is when Janisette comes to the carnival and confronts Tan Tan about the murder of Antonio. Janisette wants to take her back to Toussaint where she will suffer for killing her dad.
After this scene, it sheds light on the scene towards the ending of the book. We realize why she kept her baby. Although the baby was a result of her father raping her, she kept him because of the crime she committed, which was, killing him. This shed light on the part of the story where Tan Tan takes on the persona and becomes the Robber Queen. It t was her way of releasing everything and sharing the story.
This therefore, makes it clear to the readers as to why she shares the stories she does and why she refuses to pay for her punishment by being locked away. She is paying for her crime everyday with the presence of her baby.6. What factors other than money determine class position in the Kingston social hierarchy? Use examples from two stories in Kingston Noir to support your answer. (25 points)Other than money, one’s identity determines their class position. Essentially, the identity or name your create/build for yourself gives you a better chance at increasing one’s social position in the society. Hence, these people become well respected and recognized.
In the story “My Lord” the main character holds the title of a “private investigator”. Because of this job, he is someone who is honored. When he took Cynthia to the restaurant, he tells her that they cook the food just as he likes it. However, it can argued, the only reason his food is well done and up to par is because of who he is and the identity he created for himself. People pay more attention to him.
It is also why he is given the name “Lord” as if he holds the same importance as god.The amount of power one holds in Kingston also determines their class position. If an individual has the power to cause fear in others, they will also become respected people in society. An example to demonstrate this is the story of “White Gyal With The Camera”.
Readers witness how Soft Paw is a well recognized person in his community because of the power he holds. The story states “if Soft-Paw never send out such a word she woulda dead from day one”. He creates this name for himself as he protects people in the community and helps them when needed. But, people also fear him and therefore, do not do anything to harm him because he will be the one to hurt them.
Also, ones color of their skin play an important part. In both the stories “Leighton Leigh Anne Norbrook” and “Roll It”, “black boys” were representations of a lower class. Brown is higher in the hierarchy and belongs in the good section/area. The protagonist in “Roll It” was beautiful but dark skinned and because of this she could not move up the ladder of positions.