Ideologies in the Characters of Small Island

Topics: Black people, World War II, United Kingdom Pages: 8 (3295 words) Published: November 17, 2012
The plot of the great book seller Small Island (2004) is formed around four characters: Hortense, Queenie, Gilbert and Bernard. Each character has a different past, identity, ideology, dreams and expectations. But they also have one thing in common: all of them change after the war. Although, everyone experiments the war in a different way, all felt affected by it. At this point, all that they have experience before or what they believe in seems lost, with no sense (Gilroy, 2004). This war is not the only factor that makes them feel bizarre and strange. The England that all believe to know has also changed, it was not the England in which they believe in, in which they had trust once. In this essay I will compare the ideologies and expectations of all the characters before and after the war, making emphasis in the concept of identity related to other conceots such as’ race’ and ‘social class’. The characters can be easily divided in many different ways. One of them is their marital relations: Queenie is married with Bernard, and Hortense is married with Gilbert. Another division can be made by analyzing their origins. The first couple is from Jamaica while the second one is English. The third division could be separating them by their colour of skin: Queenie and Bernard are white and Gilbert and Hortense are black. Race is an important topic in the whole book and is expressed in the way of ‘color of skin’ (Cinková, 2010). The colour of skin of the characters makes them ‘better’ or ‘worse’ in the atmosphere of the book. Britain and its ally France was beating against the fascist Germany. How can be possible then that Britain’s attitudes was racist? Why Britain makes differences between the race white and black and at the same time tried to suffocate the fire of fascism? The reason is simple, Great Britain was not used to the ‘aliens’ or ‘strangers’ before the war. Their imperialistic ideology could not see the pain and suffering that their colonies were living. For the British all the colonies were the same: colonies. They didn’t believe that ,in a way, their identities were linked. Here we find a double reality: the reality of the colonies and that one of the British. For the British, their superiority was evident because they had a ‘Great Empire’ formed by many colonies who had bowed their heads to Great Britain’s power. These colonies were not just weak, but also inferior. This inferiority is the same that the fascism was trying to end up with. Jews and black were persecuted by Germans while in England black were repudiated and treated as ‘foreigners’ and ‘inferior’. The ‘Emperialistic ideas’ were strongly based in the term of ‘nation’. The definition of Anderson of nation as ‘imagined political community’ helps to understand the situation in England. England lived a dream after the industrialization and her expansion in the other continents These two factors made England the first potency of the World. English people were very proud of their achievements and their ‘superiority’. However, all this disappear after the World War II, when England lost its position as a first potency to give way to the United States. Before the war, the Imperialistic ideals dominated in Great Britain while the reality of the colonies was quite the opposite. The colonized loved the ‘mother country’ and had expectations on her. Their dream was come to her one day and being welcome by her. Even if they ancestors had been colonized some time ago, the mother country had done lots of things for them. In the book this double reality is represented by the two couples. Bernard and Queenie represent the Emperialistic ideas while Hortense and Gilbert embody the colonies’ naïve ideology before the World War II. However the reality changes after the war for all the characters. The ideology of a ‘Great Empire’ disappears because, even if Great Britain had won the war, England was not the same that they remembered, its prestige had vanished: the people...
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