Jamaica Kincaid

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And Then It All Died
In Jamaica Kincaid’s short story, “On Seeing England for the First Time,” reality and idea are distinguished. More often than not, the idea of something is and it’s reality are not compatible, and we see this kind of discovery most often when growing up, and when comparing my idea of adulthood with the reality, I feel the same kind of resentment Kincaid has towards England. Jamaica Kincaid does an excellent job building up her expectations of England and then showing the disappointment she feels when she finally gets there. I think the way she introduces the topic of England is excellent because she is able to give background into her thinking and thus make the experience a little more real. By shining a little light into her childhood impressions of England she is able to accurately convey what she is expects England to be like. The glowing descriptions of England that she is given by her grammar school teacher, her recollection of how everything on the island she was raised on was named after something English, and her youthful consumption of nothing but English goods all paint a picture portraying England as the land of milk and honey. She is able to build England up to be this heaven-like place. At the same time she uses excellent imagery and descriptive storytelling to convey her disappointment in England when she gets there. Kincaid says that, “the space between the idea of something and it’s reality is always wide and deep and dark” (370). This is a hard truth that everyone learns at some point.

All of her life, Kincaid has been forced to live life the “English way”, and for a part of her childhood she didn’t even question it, it just was, until she felt suffocated by it. Much like adulthood, everyone expects certain ideals from you once you reach a certain age. You grow up thinking that you have to graduate, and then go to college, then get a job and enter the real world. This was the system we are greeted with as soon as we can...
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