Faculty of Arts
Department of English
and American Studies
English Language and Literature
Cultural Dualism in the Works of George Lamming
Bachelor’s Diploma Thesis
Supervisor: prof. Mgr. Milada Franková, CSc., M.A.
I declare that I have worked on this thesis independently,
using only the primary and secondary sources listed in the bibliography.
A Brief introduction to education in the Caribbean 9
Education and social barriers 12
Perception of history as a fable 13
Evading the history of slavery 14
Hostility towards social refinement 17
English hypocrisy 21
Problems of Race and Complexion 25
Racism in the Caribbean society 25
Mutual weariness between ethnic groups 26
Hostility towards authorities 31
Compulsion for breaking the law 33
Harassment of the underprivileged 35
Reciprocity of the hostility 38
Overlapping of the hostility 40
Countries in the Caribbean region all share history of colonization and slavery. Firstly, the Caribbean nations themselves are a construct of the Europeans that set to explore and colonize “The New World”. The Europeans took indigenous people from Africa and Asia and forcibly dragged them to the Caribbean as their slaves. Naturally, there was a lot of unrest among the conquered population. In an effort to avert rebellion, the colonizers sought to hinder communication between their slaves. Members of a tribe were intentionally divided into multiple different plantations, leaving slave communities without a common language. Moreover, the slave market did not show any consideration of the family ties, and even families were split up, according to the wishes of their owners. In consequence, this effectively destroyed sense of nationality and unity among the slaves, leaving them to search for a brand new identity that would encompass their community.
After the abolition of slavery and gradual decolonization, the Caribbean people were finally given enough independence to form an identity of their own. However, even in the post-colonial era, a strong European influence has remained in the Caribbean. Laws, government, public institutions, system of education, all of these are modeled in the spirit of the European tradition, and as such, they are both remnants and reminders of the colonial era. Therefore, it can be said the Caribbean identity has been formed under the influence of two cultures, the culture of the descendants of the Caribbean slaves, and the culture of their former colonizers. This kind of environment created a certain schism that has been a distinct characteristic of the Caribbean identity. This cultural dualism, combined with bitter memory of slavery and colonization, is a foundation for a complex and unique mentality of the Caribbean people.
Anglophone Caribbean literature is a term that is used to describe literature from the islands of The Caribbean region. It is typical of the works of Anglophone Caribbean literature to reflect on cultural, social and political aspects of the Caribbean society by capturing everyday lives of the Caribbean people, with numerous themes and topics which stem from the colonial legacy of the Caribbean countries. As George Lamming remarks in his literary essay, the Caribbean novel is “a way of investigating and projecting the inner experiences of the Caribbean community”. (Routledge, 255) Anglophone Caribbean literature frequently deals with aspects of exile, migration and ethnicity, establishing own national identity and culture, problems of cultural dualism, emancipation from the colonial past and the social gap that has remained between the descendants of the white colonists and the descendants of the Caribbean slave laborers that worked for them.
George Lamming (born 1927) is considered to be one of the very influential authors of the Caribbean tradition, a member of the so-called Windrush generation, a group of authors credited for the efflorescence of the Anglophone Caribbean literature (Brown, 669) A huge part of his writing is based on his own experiences of rural life on Barbados, his mother country. As Gertrude B. Rivers claims in her article on Lamming’s work, In the Castle of My Skin is “an unusually detailed account of the cultural traditions and forces which shaped the early life of the author“. (Rivers, 155)
For this reason, I have chosen to investigate the Caribbean identity through two of his novels, In the Castle of My Skin (1953) and Season of Adventure (1960). The former is a bildungsroman that presents a vivid depiction of life in a small village in Barbados through perceptive eyes of G., the author’s alter ego. As G. gets older, he is a witness to the changes that occur in the village, and through absorbing these experiences, his personality and opinions are formed, offering a valuable insight into the Caribbean mentality. The latter portrays a life in a village in San Cristobal, a fictitious country which has just recently been given political independence. The struggle of the villagers, as they are trying to cope with changes in their society, is framed by an experience of a mulatto girl who returns to the village where she grew up in order to re-discover her own past and cultural heritage of her ancestors.