In the essay “Exiles,” Carolyn Steedman uses different voices throughout the story. Steedman uses her mom, dad, and grandma’s voice to speak her essay to the reader. She does this by either using someone else’s memories of the instant by referring to what their mom did, told by the father or grandmother. She also uses memories or voices that her mom or dad said. An example of this would be the telling of Steedman mom’s story, which was told by her father at the time “in bits and pieces throughout the fifties”(647). Her father says about Steedman’s mother, “Your mother drank gin once,” contradicting what Steedman heard when she was young from her mom that “she didn’t go out dancing or drinking.” Showing that this secret was revealed “years later, with nostalgic regret by her father”(647). Knowing that her mom, at the time, she remembers, was a good mother and later in life to be lied to and deceived for her own good. The author uses voices in the essay while remembering what her mom and dad were saying to her about memories of each other. So in other words, the author remembers what her parents said to her about each other and includes their voices in the essay. She also includes what she remembers exactly from her parents. “If it wasn’t for you two, my mother told us, I could be off somewhere else” (653). The quote obviously shows that this is what she remembers her mom saying. The author puts voices in the essay by using memories of her past.
Steedman uses voices in her essay so that the reader can get a background and see perceptions or feelings. “She was a good weaver; six looms under her by the time she was sixteen”(647). This paragraph of a story was told about her great-grandmother and as an eleven-year-old and how she was exploited. The author uses this as a voice because it tells how her mother also used her hands at her jobs. The author also shows where she received her traits in house cleaning from her mom. The author feels that “I sometimes find myself thinking that if worst comes to the worst, I can always earn a living with my hands”(655). “If you want something, you have to go out and work for it. Nobody gives you anything; nothing comes free in this world”(652). This powerful statement was told exactly by what the author hears from her mom. The author uses her memories of what her mom said to show that she still uses her mom’s advice in the present time. She also uses this passage as a way to get a feel for how her mom was in the past and that she was a hard-working woman. The story that her mom told was,
“that she flung a sixpenny piece back at a titled woman who’d given it her as a tip: If you can’t afford any more than that Madam, I suggest you keep it.’ Wonderful! Like tearing up the ration books” (652).
This showed that the author was astounded by the way her mom was hard working. These passages also conceive that the author has lived her life with her mother’s hard-working attitude. She has grown from the past of her mother’s. What also can be seen is the emotion of her mother and her perception of hard work. “There’s that woman on the phone again; Why tell me?’ Who else is there to tell? (666)” The author could use this passage in a way to tell why the voices are being used in the essay. Why tell? Who else to tell other than the reader. The reader will listen and understand where someone is coming from through voices.
Using past history and perceptions makes a good sense of where someone comes from and overall gives a feel of where someone came from or has gone through. This makes the essay seem more familiar. “I remember as it were but yesterday, . . . “(652).