Date of Award
University or Center
Clark Atlanta University(CAU)
African and African American Studies
Professor Melvin Rahming
This study, based on novels written originally in English by writers from English-speaking West Indian nations during the period 1949 to 1980, explores the authors' vision of the motives, nature and processes by which liberation from colonialism is sought and achieved. Extended discussion is given to the following: V.S. Reid's New Day (1949, George Lamming's In the Castle of My Skin (1953), John Hearne’s Land of the Living (1961), Andrew Salkey's A Quality of Violence (1959), Paule Marshall's The Chosen Place, The Timeless People (1969), V. S. Naipaul's Guerrillas (1975), and Michael Thelwell's The Harder They Come (1980).
Whereas New Day asserts the reality of a West Indian identity, In the Castle of My Skin stresses the need for a collective awareness of racial identity and its socio-political implications. A Quality of Violence and Land of the Living attest to the importance of establishing (in West Indian societies) spiritual values which are not Western and which are connected to the people's cultural history. Similarly, The Chosen Place, the Timeless People illustrates that a sense of history can greatly influence the struggle to achieve social change. Even though Guerrillas uses a chaotic situation on a specific West Indian island to suggest socio-political and cultural confusion in the West Indies generally, this novel nevertheless reveals the need for fundamental socio-political change. Unlike Guerrillas, The Harder They Come stresses the creative potential of the West Indian people as an agent for such change.
Thus in conclusion it is argued that these novels confirm the West Indian nations' need to change their societies in ways which are more egalitarian and less colonial. But to bring about that change, the writers generally agree that psycho-cultural resistance requires a consciousness that no longer accepts the dictates of an oppressive culture but attempts to rediscover its own validity. This attempt at rediscovery of individual, communal, and racial identities indicates an increasing vitality in the struggle for change in these societies, whose past has been stolen, whose present is being directed, and whose future has been planned by external agencies.
Sakuma, Masako, "Social change in selected West Indian novels" (1990). ETD Collection for AUC Robert W. Woodruff Library. 2196.