in Caribbean LiteratureThe British have influenced the perspective of the Caribbean people inmany ways. The people’s self awareness, religion, language, and culture hascoped with the influx of British ideals and in coping, the people have changedto appease the islands’ highly influential British population. Three exceptshighly 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, IWould Write This in Fire” by Michelle Cliff. All three excepts show the amongthe people of the islands, whether native or foreign. In examining the threepassages, each author presents a unique perspective. Hodge’s story ispresented through the eyes of a black , lower class girl of Trinidad in the1950s. Naipaul uses an unidentified East Indian boy to tell his story.Order now
A youngwhite girl becomes the narrator of cliff’s excerpt. By using Cliff’sperspective to examine the perspective of the other two passages. A uniqueinterpretation of the British influence on the Caribbean people develops. Friction among people of different color is clearly displayed within thewritings; However, looking at the story of “Crick Crack Monkey” through the eyesof a young white girl, rather than a young black girl, the reader might see theinjustice and the ethnic discrimination that a black person must endure.
Shewould 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 throughthe aunt’s religious affiliation. Changing the color of the narrator in My AuntGold 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” (Na463), when his aunt appears to have “got the spirit” (CS 462). The Indian boyis probably more ashamed of the aunt’s reference to “Hail Mary” than herphysical exhibition. From the perspective of a white Anglican child at thattime, the behavior of the aunt would be acceptable and understandable, but forthe Indian boy, brought up on Hinduism, such actions would seem foreign andconfusing.
Racism is evident in the writings by Caribbean authors, and theirintent to expose the British as the perpetrators of the racism is also apparentwhen looking at it through a white girl’s perspective. Religious confusion is another result of the British occupation in theCaribbean. Both Hodge and Naipaul use their writing to expose the problemsCaribbean people experience with religion. The influence of the church is madeapparent in the writings by all three authors. A striking example can befound on page 455 in Hodge’s story “Crick Crack Monkey”. The narrator of thestory tells how the students made “sound” at the beginning and at end of eachclass period.
The “sound” were the classic English “Our Father”, the childrendid not understand the words. The children just memorized the sounds and notthe actual meaning. Hodge writes the sound Mrs. Hind attempt to redeem thechildren; however, this is in the perspective of a adult looking back at herchildhood, at the time the “Our Father” was just sound.
Another example,”every Sunday afternoon Tantie dressed Toddan and me and sent us to thePentecost Sunday-school in preference to that of the Anglican church” (Hodge455); however, in school “under Mrs. Hind’s direction we would recite Childrenof the Empire Ye Are Brothers All” (Hodge 454). Hodge wrote of both religiousexperiences to show the confusion that the children were undergoing, In theother passage by Naipaul, a similar confusion exists. “Aunt Gold Teeth” isconfused by the barrage of propaganda by the various religious groups, and”every day her religious schizophrenia grows” (Naipaul 459). In trading thenarrators’ perspectives, one can assume the young white girl would reactdifferently to the situation than the Indian boy.
Assuming the white girlbelieves in Christianity, she would probably be happy, rather than confused,about the aunt’s conversion in faith. The authors clearly show the people’sconfusion with religion, and in the process, they show the problem lies in thepeople’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 Teethsought other religions to gain even more power.