British Control of the Caribbean and Its Allusion

in Caribbean LiteratureThe British have influenced the perspective of the Caribbean people in
many ways. The people’s self awareness, religion, language, and culture has
coped with the influx of British ideals and in coping, the people have changed
to appease the islands’ highly influential British population. Three excepts
highly 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, I
Would Write This in Fire” by Michelle Cliff. All three excepts show the among
the people of the islands, whether native or foreign. In examining the three
passages, each author presents a unique perspective. Hodge’s story is
presented through the eyes of a black , lower class girl of Trinidad in the
1950s. Naipaul uses an unidentified East Indian boy to tell his story. A young
white girl becomes the narrator of cliff’s excerpt. By using Cliff’s
perspective to examine the perspective of the other two passages. A unique
interpretation of the British influence on the Caribbean people develops.

Friction among people of different color is clearly displayed within the
writings; However, looking at the story of “Crick Crack Monkey” through the eyes
of a young white girl, rather than a young black girl, the reader might see the
injustice and the ethnic discrimination that a black person must endure. She
would 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 through
the aunt’s religious affiliation. Changing the color of the narrator in My Aunt
Gold Teeth might make a difference in the way the person perceives their aunt.

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For example, the narrator says, “I was rather ashamed at the exhibition” (Na
463), when his aunt appears to have “got the spirit” (CS 462). The Indian boy
is probably more ashamed of the aunt’s reference to “Hail Mary” than her
physical exhibition. From the perspective of a white Anglican child at that
time, the behavior of the aunt would be acceptable and understandable, but for
the Indian boy, brought up on Hinduism, such actions would seem foreign and
confusing. Racism is evident in the writings by Caribbean authors, and their
intent to expose the British as the perpetrators of the racism is also apparent
when looking at it through a white girl’s perspective.

Religious confusion is another result of the British occupation in the
Caribbean. Both Hodge and Naipaul use their writing to expose the problems
Caribbean people experience with religion. The influence of the church is made
apparent in the writings by all three authors.A striking example can be
found on page 455 in Hodge’s story “Crick Crack Monkey”. The narrator of the
story tells how the students made “sound” at the beginning and at end of each
class period. The “sound” were the classic English “Our Father”, the children
did not understand the words. The children just memorized the sounds and not
the actual meaning. Hodge writes the sound Mrs. Hind attempt to redeem the
children; however, this is in the perspective of a adult looking back at her
childhood, at the time the “Our Father” was just sound.Another example,
“every Sunday afternoon Tantie dressed Toddan and me and sent us to the
Pentecost Sunday-school in preference to that of the Anglican church” (Hodge
455); however, in school “under Mrs. Hind’s direction we would recite Children
of the Empire Ye Are Brothers All” (Hodge 454). Hodge wrote of both religious
experiences to show the confusion that the children were undergoing, In the
other passage by Naipaul, a similar confusion exists. “Aunt Gold Teeth” is
confused by the barrage of propaganda by the various religious groups, and
“every day her religious schizophrenia grows” (Naipaul 459). In trading the
narrators’ perspectives, one can assume the young white girl would react
differently to the situation than the Indian boy. Assuming the white girl
believes in Christianity, she would probably be happy, rather than confused,
about the aunt’s conversion in faith. The authors clearly show the people’s
confusion with religion, and in the process, they show the problem lies in the
people’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 Teeth
sought other religions to gain even more power. Naipaul writes


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