The Water Babies Chapter Summaries

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History and Decolonising: A Critical Study of Jamaika Kinkaid Fictions

M. Premalatha Dr. T. Deivasigamani
PhD Research Scholar Assistant Professor
Department of English Department of English
Annamalai University Annamalai University

The fundamental anti-colonialist strategy that she employs is to delete the voice of the patriarch who narrates The Water-Babies and to replace it with that of the West Indian girl, who fluctuates between mimicking him and speaking in her own tentative fashion. With its Manichean constructs and its didacticism regarding social issues such as child labour, the British education system, and even the poor state of sanitation in England, Kingsley's work can be described as a master discourse.
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Like the figure in Dream, they signify racism.8 In addition, in this novel the primate contributes to the notion of the palimpsest, for the vehicle “monkey” automatically carries the tenor “evolution." As well, Kincaid’s figure evokes the Trickster nature that is present in Louisiana. In “Wingless” the mother laughs scornfully at her daughter because of the manner in which she is eating: “'You should see how you look trying to remove all the strings from the bananas with your monkey fingernails,'” the woman tells her (24). The suggestion is that although the mother herself is black, having been educated by the Empire she perceives the world through European eyes. In her reaction to the child handling the fruit, a racist undertone is laid down. She refers to the girl’s “monkey fingernails” in the voice of the European coloniser who equates blacks with lack of refinement and with apes. She is mimicking her master. The child responds with deep fear to the mother’s seemingly frivolous comment because it conveys the degree of insidiousness with which the Empire educated the colonial. The mother has obviously internalised a key racist stereotype. However, the implied association between the narrator and the African Monkey Trickster subverts Europe’s racism. According
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