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English Literary File_Vol 6

Despite having a stubborn sense of pride instilled within our identity, due to the colonial regime and its consequential effects, our people of that time fought inherent obligations with futile strikes. This history of futility also shapes Jamaican identity. As Patterson depicts it, Dinah ponders in bittersweet frustration: Work…get money…spend it…and work again for more money. Something nice about that. Sound good. Sound secure. Sound like what nice, decent people do. . . . But blast it, though, It was this that revolted her. Work and get your pay and come back again for more and that’s a good girl. There was something about this which made her sick and want to vomit in as much as it attracted her…It was such a nasty, bitchy world, but she would lick it yet. . . . Her soul raged with humiliation and bitterness, but in the humiliation and bitterness there was the sheer pleasure of pain. (126, 134) It is apparent that in these passages, although Dinah despises the system in which she lives, it is paradoxically enticing. This, now intrinsic anomaly stems from colonizers and their persistent attempts to “civilize” Jamaicans, as well as the people of our motherland. Their argument was essentially that they were helping these uncivilized and savage nations by bringing their definition of “civil traits” and government to Africa, and Jamaica, alluding to their inherent sense of superiority and belief that we were stray dogs to domesticate. This claim of civilization was essentially a façade and is more analogous to one of animal domestication, i.e. house pets. The result of the extended oppression has ultimately lead to blacks suffering from self-loathing, and has had such an intoxicating effect upon their mindset, that its ramifications have lead them to be convinced that the Black race is “in fact” inferior. In some instances this belief is prevalent in black communities today. For instance, many black males today believe that white girls are more attractive than their black counterparts, and thus don’t even date dark-skinned girls. This has a detrimental effect throughout contemporary society, and generations to come. Patterson alludes to this issue throughout his novel, but the most tangible example of such indoctrination is evident when a proud mother, Mary, who is also a prostitute, is overzealous about her brown-skinned bastard daughter, Rossetta, and the possibility of her gaining a scholarship ahead of the other students in the shantytown Dungle. During the back and forth Rachael, another resident of the Dungle, exclaims, “Education no mek fo’ neager people, yu know” (88). Mary sharply defends her daughter, but not herself, in her retort, “Yu see me pickney look like dem other little dry-head, black pickney dem ‘bout de place. Yu no’ see she ‘ave backra blood in her. Is her father she get de brains from. Me black an’ stupid, but her sailor father give her all de brains she need” (88). After she receives the news of her daughter’s scholarship, Mary immediately promises Rachael a job as her nanny and a pension when her daughter marries a rich white man. This illustrates the proud aspirations of the contemporary black people in the island, portraying that the primary objective of her intelligent daughter shouldn’t be to seek financial security as a result of her higher education, but rather that she should seek out a “rich white man” to end their impoverished struggle. This undoubtedly reveals that no matter what opportunity presents itself, the poverty-stricken people believe that the only way out is via the superior white train. With this said, it is irrefutable that the incessant brainwashing has worked its way into the depths of black person’s consciousness that one of them has the audacity to say, and believe, “Education! Is education an’ too much ambition cause it. Black people mus’ learn fe know dem place. Is right here we belong. Right down a’ duttyground ya” (89). White imperialism has had such a critical effect on blacks’ mental reasoning that it has put it into a fragile state of being and driven them to concede that they are subordinate to the white man, leading blacks to believe that whatever the colonizers say is factual. These instances referenced above depict an inherent sense of internal racism within the black community against their own ethnicity. They grow up in an era in which they are forced into despising themselves, hating the color of their skin, regurgitating at their “subordinate” vernacular, and scorning the mirror more than anything because their reflection was revolting. Jamaicans have battled to eradicate this self-loathing from their identity, and have succeeded for the most part, but it was driven so far into the crevasses of our very existence that it has become an irremovable stain left upon our being. Patterson’s title, The Children of Sisyphus is exceedingly relevant due to the basis of the Greek myth. Sisyphus was punished for his actions and was forced to repeatedly roll a massive boulder to the top ELF 2015 (Vol. 6) 18


English Literary File_Vol 6
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