In History Jamaica Kincaid Analysis

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In her thought provoking essay “In History,” author Jamaica Kincaid explores the idea of naming things in a historical context through various anecdotes. Kincaid makes a purposeful choice to tell her story non chronologically, beginning with the tale of Columbus, putting her own reflection on plant nomenclature in the middle, and ending with an overview of Carl Linnaeus, the inventor of the plant naming system. This choice gives Kincaid the opportunity to fully vet out each point that she makes, an opportunity she wouldn’t have gotten had she written her essay in chronological order. Throughout each anecdote that Kincaid tells, the theme of names and giving things names is central. Kincaid argues that by giving something a name, one unrightfully takes ownership of it and erases its history. Kincaid, who is from the South American country of Antigua laments the loss of her country’s history at the hands of famed fifteenth century explorer Christopher Columbus. Kincaid sarcastically describes Antigua, a country “discovered” by Columbus, from his perspective. “In the writings, in anything representing a record of the imagination of Christopher Columbus, I cannot find any expectation for a place like this. It is a small lump of insignificance, green, green, green, and green again… the…show more content…
In fact, she even says, “The invention of the this system [of naming] has been a good thing” (7). She merely tries to warn that the dangers of naming things one has no knowledge of or experience with is a destructive practice. It completely erases the object’s history, and is disrespectful to the community who already had a name for the aforementioned object, as it effectively tells them that they never had a relationship with the object in question, and that they do not have a right to it. By structuring her essay non-chronologically and making purposeful word choice, Kincaid effectively demonstrates the inherent destructiveness in
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