The Effects Of Caribbean Colonization On The Family: Through The Eyes Of Caribbean Women Writers

2412 words - 10 pages

The effects of colonization on the family of Caribbean people, as described by various

twentieth century Caribbean woman writers, are as complicated as they are vast. These authors show

that families continue to struggle with separation, poverty, and cultural identity issues that create extra

ordinary difficulties for the families who live on these post-colonial islands. It can be argued that all

families have struggles, both internal and external, and while this is undoubtedly true, the struggles that

the families described in these novels endure have a direct connection to their colonized past and the

influences of the colonizer, still felt by the countries colonized and their people. The abolition of

slavery in these islands did not eliminate the special problems that the former slaves, now inhabitants,

would inherit, nor did it eliminate the effects or consequences that these issues would create for the

family.

One of the most prevalent concerns for these families is that of separation, both literally and

emotionally, due to differences in the family members interpretation and acceptance of their own

cultural identity. We can see literal family separation in Jamaica Kincaid's “Annie John,” through both

the emigration of Annie's mother, from the Dominican to Antigua, to Annie's eventual immigration to

England. These literal separations of family are derived from economical and educational reasons.

Annie John leaves Antigua, and her family, at the age of sixteen to pursue a continued education that

she can not find in her own country. We can see the emotional toll this has on Annie as she describes

her conflicted feelings on her departure: “My mother and my father-I was leaving them forever. My

home on the island-I was was leaving it forever. . . Suddenly a wave of strong feeling came over me,

and my heart swelled with a great gladness as the words “ I shall never see this again” stabbed at me.

But then, just as quickly, my heart shriveled up and the words “I shall never see this again” spilled out

inside me” (144-145). The underlying difference between the family separation seen here and the

separations of family in non-colonized countries is the sense of permanence surrounding them. It is one

thing to be able to hop into ones car and drive, even over great distance, to visit relatives living in ones

own land, it is entirely different, and Annie is certainly smart enough, even at the age of sixteen, to

understand this difference, to financially afford and/or receive the required documentation that will

allow her and her parents to see each other easily, again.

Emotional separation between family members due to conflicts of family reactions to cultural

identity can be found in “Beka Lamb”, by Zee Edgell. In this story, Beka's father and paternal

grandmothers relationship, although a loving one, is strained by the differing opinions...

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