Dionne Brand What We All Long for

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Dionne Brand’s use of diction, figurative language, imagery, tone, and a strong narrative voice indicate the issue of being detached from society. Clearly, the narrator is experiencing an identity crisis, in which he/she is being deprived of their identity. The uncertainty in the reading of the photograph reflects the narrator’s lack of self and the ways in which he does not fit in. “I left like you do with sunstroke. I felt dried out..” The narrator’s use of figurative language (metaphor) portrays the aspect of lifelessness. “We look as one face – no particular personal aspect, no individual ambition. All one.” The language and the imagery the narrator uses conveys a general sense, and puts the narrator in the same category as the other faceless individuals. There is no sense of individuality, seeing as how all of the people at Palau Bidong portray the same characteristics. The individuals on the island lack personal drive because they are being used for another purpose which is beyond them. Such aspects reflect those of a refugee camp, evidently residing in Pulau Bidong. “Was it us or was it the photographer who couldn’t make distinctions among people he didn’t know? Unable to make us human.” The refugees are evidently being photographed to serve a social/political purpose. The photographer is unable to distinguish amongst them because they are all the same. The imagery and tone illuminated in the quote also reflects a sense of alienation, and the idea of being estranged from the rest of society. The tone also emphasizes the idea of fearing the unknown. The themes of isolation and disengagement are reinforced throughout the passage. The narrator is unable to reconnect with his/her past and is slowly losing his/her recollection of it. The passage reproduces a life which lacks all meaning and personal ties.
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