Form and Language in Sam Selvon’s The Lonely Londoners Nick Bentley Introduction When Sam Selvon moved to Britain from the Caribbean in the s he was part of a group of writers including E.K. Brathwaite, George Lamming, V.S. Naipaul, Andrew Salkey and Derek Walcott that began to make an impact on the London literary scene. () While analyzing the two postcolonial novels The Lonely Londoners by Sam Selvon and Corregidora by Gayl Jones, the relationship between the formation of community and belonging in terms of gender and sexuality are compared to find out how solidarity works to help provide these formations of social and historic structures. Sam Selvon’s style of writing 6. Harris’ character and style of talking 8. 4. Racism in Sam Selvon’s “The Lonely Londoners” 9 Racism through exterior influences 9. The characters’ awareness of racism /5(1). Ramchand, Kenneth. “Song of Innocence, Song of Experience: Samuel Selvon’s The Lonely Londoners as a Literary Work.” World Literature Written in English 21 (Autumn, ): Samuel "Sam" Selvon (20 May – 16 April ) was a Trinidad-born essay2019.pw novel The Lonely Londoners is groundbreaking in its use of creolised English, or "nation language", for narrative as well as dialogue.
It is within the latter that the exploration of solidarity surfaces when looking at the post-colonial Black subject and their plight to finding their own sense of self in relation to others.
Gender is an important specificity in regards to belonging and community. Therefore, with racial tension at height, the West Indian men in the novel, Moses, Cap, Galahad, and Bart to name a few, stuck together because of their shared oncept of identity.
The obvious of their solidarity would be that of their skin color, background, vernacular, and situation. For example, when Galahad is talking to Daisy, a white girl, on their date she has trouble communicating. You know it will take me some time to understand everything you say. The way you West Indians speak! An example of this coercion takes place within the living facilities, workplace, and in common occurrences in every day life.
What it is we want that the white people and them find it so hard to give?
A little work, a little food, a little place to sleep. We not asking for the sun or the moon. It is within the same passage that Galahad speaks of how his incident finding housing was not specific to him, but to all of them, the West Indians, and blames Black for it because it is Blacks fault that they are not equal.
He refers to Black as an awful person, rather than a skin color. However, this prejudice did not just happen with housing, work was hard to find, even if one were a skilled worker. Galahad was a trained electrician from Trinidad, and traveled across the Atlantic Ocean for hopes of opportunity and change. But what he received instead was a manual labor job, as did many of the West Indians who worked overnight hard labor and other physically demanding jobs. The purpose was to leave the skilled labor for the British, which the West Indian thought they were but soon found out they were not seen that way, and this became a conflict and a tool to keep the men of the Caribbean together in roots, in location, and in oppression.
Gender and sexuality also play a big role in terms of solidarity. While the men held together in their fights of oppression and color, West Indian women faced oppression two-fold, one for being black and the other for being a woman.
Selvon shows the power struggle within the male and the female immigrant when Lewis starts to beat up on Tanty because he hears that wives chat on their husbands with the milk man, and he becomes paranoid.
It is important to recognize that throughout the novel, English women were a prize possession and means for competition for the West Indian men. On the other hand, it was the West Indian women who were not mentioned sexually at all through the novel, and remain at the bottom of the power struggle as Tanty did when she was abused for being a victim of suspicion.
They have rights over here, and they always shouting for something. Tanty ends up leaving Lewis, which one is to wonder if that would be so in Jamaica, and one is to see how the family dynamic shifts in a more progressive society.
The West Indian women, while not key players in The Lonely Londoners, had their sense of solidarity with each other, and their situation. Your own kind of girls not good enough now, is only white girls!
Selvon 73 Tanty becomes a victim of her own environment within her relationships, and it is the female who must also deal with sexist oppression beyond the economic, racial, and psychological struggles.
Corregidora, in terms of community, is quite different then that of The Lonely Londoners specifically because of gender. Corregidora is a novel based around women, specifically the heroine Ursa Corregidora, and explores black female sexuality as well as relationships with men, women, family, and colonial history. Her struggle to discover her individual identity must be conquered by her historical and family solidarity.
I have tears for eyes. I was made to touch my past at an early age … Let no one pollute my music. I will dig out their trumpets. And you got to leave evidence too. And your children got to leave evidence… …we got to keep it as visible as our blood. They were forced into prostitution, as many woman slaves were, and subjected to numerous sexual encounters with the plantation owner as well as his white wife.
The anxiety of not being able to pass down the legacies of the Corregidora women and possibly break the solidarity of their shared history demonstrated to be a whirlwind of emotion. Beyond the solidarity that exists within the women holding the Corregidora last name, there lingers a bond of sisterhood among the relationships in women that Ursa interact with.
There is Cat, who befriended Ursa on a more personal note when Ursa left Mutt because of the attack. Cat becomes a friend and an enemy to Ursa, as she begins her life without Mutt. She tried to tell Ursa not to marry Tadpole, and objects of any relationship with a man so soon, but possibly because of her new found sexual orientation. Cat refutes the thought of being with a man anymore because she will not succumb to be dominated, and turns to Jeffy as a resistance object to her sexual oppression.
The Lonely Londoners Essay
Sexuality ties into belongingness here because while both want to be loved and want to act out on their sexuality, they refuse to face the oppression brought on to them by the Black man. Ursa, who was fondled by Jeffy herself, makes it clear that she finds the act of homosexuality disturbing, yet throughout the novel there lays a question of curiosity in Ursa. It is at the end of the novel where she runs into Jeffy that she remembers the sisterhood she shared with Cat, and considers paying her a visit.
May Alice, a childhood friend of Ursa, also used her sexuality to feel a sense of belonging. While Corregidora has more of a story and plot than The Lonely Londoners, it is important to look at one the climatic events that take place at the end of the plot driven novel.
Ursa tells the story from a twenty-two year time span, and at the end of the novel she is alone and has continued singing the blues at a bar in Kentucky.
She runs into Mutt, and after all this time she still loves him, and has forgiven him. The question at hand, however, is if she has changed and is willing to leave the past in the past, and make her own history. She submits to Mutt, pleasing him orally for the first time. This is a focal point, because not only is it an act where she puts the man before her, but an act that contradicts the pressures of her mother and the push for reproduction.
Ursa, at this point, puts her shared experiences and histories aside, to conquer her own and conquer love. Ursa is not dominated in this instance, because she has stood her ground, will continue to sing, to remember, and to be a woman of Corregidora, however, she is now free from the constraints that the past put on her future. She becomes, at the finale, heroine as she has conquered her loses and oppositions, and also finds her own sense of identity. As both novels were written in rather different historical and geographical contexts, it is important to mention that each character suffered from their own oppressions and remained cohesive in someway to help overcome or get through them.
It is their relationships to each other, their histories, their conditions, and so on that have helped develop each of them into a strong Black individual. Black Feminism and the Boundaries of Sisterhood. Imagining Political Culture beyond the Color Line.
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