Whilst ambivalent to her identity, it can be said that Senior manipulated her creole language to have a wider range of people who themselves are as ‘indecisive’ and culturally dynamic and as well, mark her identity. The manipulation of characters in a literary piece can reflect the writer’s views as well as their innermost struggles and conflicts. In ‘Hurricane Story 1903’ it is noted that Granny is instilled and rooted with her Jamaican culture. Likewise, this relates to Senior herself who tries to hold onto her Caribbean roots whilst remaining in Canada, despite her uncertainty of belonging.
Renu Juneja in her discussion about “Contemporary Women Writers2”, states that as reaction to their prolonged invisibility in Literature, the women writers have offered literary works expressed with a female autobiographical sensibility and reflecting their past experiences. Jean Rhys is another West Indian writer whose life parallels with that of Olive Senior and others in the African diaspora. As a white girl growing up in a predominantly black community in Dominica, Rhys experienced levels of isolations and rejection but she however did migrate to England, only returning once to her homeland.
Though critics have described her attitudes towards her home country as ambivalent and uncertain based on her experiences, she faced an inner conflict of self-doubt and nostalgic feelings. In the poem, ‘Meditation on Red’, Olive Senior makes references to Rhys’s life, characters and themes in her novels such as Wide Sargasso Sea where Senior feels the same sentiments and connects with Rhys and her experiences through the pieces that dealt with the issues of displacement and isolation.
Growing up in rural Jamaica enabled Senior to be conscious of her environment that facilitated her to manipulate the Edenic imagery and gardening motif in ‘Gardening in the Tropics’. “I think one of the things that have also shaped my sensibilities as a writer is the intense beauty of the country in which I grew up in as I have internalized this landscape. Not lost on me as a child was the fact that the beautiful landscape marked a lot of hardship and pain and so on. ” 3
The landscape and scenery of her homeland symbolized the painful experiences by those Senior considered her people and as well represented her quest to dig into her own insecurities and uncertainties regarding her identity and place in society. It can be argued that the nostalgic reminiscence is presented in ‘Meditation on Yellow’ where Senior writes “I want to feel mellow, in that three o’clock yellow’ where she muses on the sun’s glow at that time of the afternoon in such a tropical setting.
This greatly contrasts to her environment now in Canada which varies drastically. It can be argued that Senior, though feeling displaced in her homeland and society on a whole, still admires and yearns for her country as this is seen in the gardening motif throughout Gardening in the Tropics. Bruce King in his introduction of the book, West Indian Literature, states that “West Indian Literature is more about coming to terms with exile, rapid change and the desire to belong in a region of the world…
” Many female West Indian writers of the African diaspora are subject to this exact sentiment and thus release their frustration and uncertainty through their work. Olive Senior and others effectively utilize their creative literary techniques to often display their feelings of displacement and ambivalence throughout their work. This is in fact often done, not as means of ‘wanting to’ but instead fulfilling a ‘need to’ provide a voice to others who may feel such ambivalence, likewise as Jean Rhys connected to Olive Senior.
Word Count: 1,211 words.References Books Chamberlin, Edward (1993). Come Back to Me, My Language. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. Dawes, Kwame (2001). Talk yuh talk: Interwiews with Anglophone Caribbean poets. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia. Gilbert, Helen ; Joanna Tompkins (1996). Post-Colonial Drama: Theory, Practice, Politics. London: Routledge. King, Bruce Alvin (1995). West Indian Literature. London: Macmillan Publishers. Morris, Merlvyn (2005). Making West Indian Literature. Kingston 6, Jamaica: Ian Randle Publishers. Nasta, Sushiela (1992).
Motherlands: Black womens writing from Africa the Caribbean and South Asian. New Brunswick, Canada: Rutgers University Press. Scott, Helen C. (2006). Caribbean Women Writers and Globalization. London: Ashgate Pub Co. Websites Prose Quotes. Retrieved January 3, 2012, from http://thinkexist. com/quotes/with/keyword/prose Dawes Kwame, Kwame Dawes: The Use of Poetry (January 10, 2011), Retrieved January 2, 2012, from http://www. youtube. com/watch? v=-FTJ7imc2ag;feature=related Ramon Paredes, Aristotle’s Definition of Tragedy.
Retrieved January 2, 2012 from http://www. paredes. us/tragedy. html 1 Sushiela Nasta “Motherlands: Black womens writing from Africa the Caribbean and South Asian” 2 Chapter 8, “Contemporary Women Writers”, West Indian Literature 3 Quote from Olive Senior in an interview with Kwame Dawes in, “Talk Yuh Talk” .