Literature Courework Essay
Choose two stories from ‘An Evening in Guanima’ that you considered to be the “best” or your favourite. Explain the reasons for your choice considering: theme, characters and writer’s style. The author got her inspiration for these stories from her birthplace, Cat Island, which many believe was originally called “Guanima” by the Lucayans. She frequently visited her grandparents in Port Howe, where, via storytelling, she discovered the fascinating world of Bahamian folklore. Therefore, it was for this reason ‘An Evening in Guanima’ was created.
One of my personal favourites is “The Girl on the Gallows” because of the writer’s style – which I felt encompassed varied techniques; impressive characterization and theme. Another favourite is “The Gaulin Wife” with its distinct writer’s style, ingenious characterization and obvious, clear-cut theme. I love the writer’s extremely descriptive writer’s style; it paints picturesque scenes of this exotic land and enabled me to visualise the characters while learning about their personalities.
“The sheen of Christa’s skin, the colour of honey from bees feeding on wild marigolds… and no less golden and beautiful was her hair” – this allowed me to effortlessly visualise Christa and Glinton describing her personality as being “sweet” told me she was a kind-hearted character. On the contrary, the author used words like “jealous” and “spiteful” when describing Anacarla and this, to me, denoted a vicious character. Christa was portrayed as a becoming yet humble girl with a kind personality while Anacarla on the other hand, was portrayed as “a cruel viper of a princess”.
This made me despise Anacarla but feel nothing except fondness and sympathy toward Christa. I greatly admired the manner in which Glinton intertwined structure and symbolism when discussing the bird-messengers. She structurally highlighted the words “Princess” and “Queen” by capitalizing them and used each type of bird to symbolize both Christa and her impending destiny. The first bird was common; a duck, this to me represented Christa’s humble social status as “a daughter of the common people”.
The second bird was an iridescent parrot which, I felt represented Christa’s undeniable beauty. The bird’s feathers were used to fashion a bonnet for “a sour-faced woman who had no eye for their beauty” and I took this to mean that this woman did not appreciate the bonnet’s inordinately beautiful plumage. In the same way Christa’s rejected admirers and jealous rivals ceased to appreciate her beauty when she was sentenced to be hung. The third and final winged-messenger was a powerful, majestic eagle.
It was observed that this was the only messenger that addressed Christa as “some-day Queen” and because of her prowess the eagle was able to soar above the clouds, thereby evading hunters. From my perspective, the eagle soaring above the clouds symbolized Christa rising in status and power to the prestigious position of queen. The theme of this story was that “Good always triumphs and evil doers eventually get what’s coming to them”. This made me feel optimistic that this theme would hold true to real life.
I like the title of “The Gaulin Wife” because it is short and has an interesting key word. I like the fact that the title is short because it does not reveal much about the story, leaving me to puzzle over what the story will entail. This coupled with the use of the key word “Gaulin” piqued my interest and prompted me to read the story. The writer’s style added to my joy in reading the story because it contained an abundance of Bahamian dialect. I felt the writer infused the writing with Bahamian dialect in order to add a “cultural flavour” to the story.
This, in turn, made the story more interesting to me. This technique was used in the line “her ma musse pity frog or goggle-eye fish”. It was lines like this that showed me that the main character was disrespectful and completely inconsiderate of others’ feelings. The author’s description of his actions also added to my perception of his personality. The fact that he promised to wed several girls before leaving them “high and dry” showed me the narcissistic and down right cruel aspects of his personality.
This characterization flowed perfectly into the theme which was “Bad karma tends to seek out those who deserve it”. I gravitated toward “The Girl on the Gallows” because of its writer’s style, my favourite technique being the imbedded symbolism, and characterization – which made me feel different emotions toward the characters; I despised Anacarla but sympathized with Christa. I chose “The Gaulin Wife” because of the use of dialect in the writer’s style and the clear-cut, hard-to-miss theme.
Subject: Bahamian American,
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 21 September 2016
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