In the Castle of My Skin

Topics: Colonialism, Black people, Nigger Pages: 5 (1759 words) Published: March 16, 2008
The novel In The Castle Of My Skin by Barbadian novelist George Lamming and Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys, a native of Dominica both deal in-depth with the lives of their characters during colonialism. Similarly each author tackles the idea of alienation and loss of identity placed upon their characters, through such literary techniques as point of view, setting and characterization. One can successfully compare and contrast the novels and seek to attain a greater appreciation and understanding of the authors and their works. In The Castle Of My Skin Lamming shows alienation through point of view. In chapter 11 he reverts back to first person in the voice of G. G is the main character of the novel, he is depicted as an autobiographical character of Lamming at an early age. G's feeling of alienation occurs when he returns from high school and is separated socially from others in the village. Many believe him to be part of another world, a world that they did not understand because it was only made available to a selective few. The prestige, knowledge and self-confidence provided within the confinements of the high school was unknown to the villagers therefore they could no longer accept G to be one of them nor could he accept them.

I was no longer one of the boys .whether or not they wanted me they excluded me from their world just as my memory of them and the village excluded me from the world of the High School. It would have been easier to go to a more respectable district. (212)

G's awareness of his indifference and segregation from society is somewhat similar to that of Antoinette Cosway, a young Creole girl who is living in Jamaica during the times of emancipation. At the beginning of the novel Rhys introduces the young girl in first person point of view, like In The Castle Of My Skin this allows readers to understand better what the protagonists are thinking. Antoinette as we later find out is her name is weary of the adversities set on to her, she realizes along with her mother that she is an outsider to the white social class "They say when trouble comes close ranks and so the white people did. But we were not in there ranks". Antoinette was not only alienated socially but also physically because of her present stay at Coulibri estate which isolated her from others, visitors were rare and those blacks in and around the area hated her and her family they saw them as "white niggers" therefore looking down on them. Antoinette was alone she knew this and quickly grew to accept her situation " I got use to a solitary life", for a young girl like Antoinette whose days should be full of joy an growth to admit and accept a solitary life emphasizes the reality and seriousness of being alienated during the colonial era. Rhys like Lamming also used the technique setting to develop the idea of alienation; both main characters are located in the Caribbean during colonialism, G in Barbados and Antoinette in Jamaica. During these times whites were the colonial power and blacks were the sub- serviant poor worker, having such advantages as going to High School like G or the disadvantages of being a poor Creole did not go unnoticed among the Caribbean social settings, and such changes were not accepted leaving those involved feeling outcast and alienated. "Black people stood about in groups to jeer at her, especially after her riding clothes grew shabby (they know clothes they know money)".It was significant for lamming and Rhys to utilize the West Indian setting for their novels to describe the difficult country life of the village and its imperfections which effect the characters. Later throughout the novels loss of identity is analyzed through the use of characterization. Rhys enters into the personal life of Antoinette to discover the protagonists feeling of loss. Antoinette spent most of her childhood alone, afraid, insecure and alienated she had no one but herself for answers, her...

Bibliography: Rhys, Jean. Wide Sargasso Sea. London: Longman, 2001
Lamming, George. In The Castle Of My Skin. London: Longman, 1987
King, Bruce. West Indian Literature. London: Macmillan Education ltd, 1995
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