How does Levy tell the story in the Prologue?
Levy uses a number of different techniques and aspects of narrative in order to tell the story in the prologue of Small Island. She opens the story in the perspective of Queenie, but when she was a child (‘Before’) – (use of time as an aspect). This is also the use of characterisation to tell the story, because the perspective lends a naivety to the telling of the story, the most prominent example being when Queenie meets the African man – she is intimidated by him and is too young to hide it. She is fascinated by him, and also attracted to him - but as a child doesn’t she realise that - however Emily and Graham do, and proceed to tease her. There are underlining themes of ignorance, power and prejudice (of the British) in the prologue, which are part of the context of the time and place in which the story is set. Ignorance is shown immediately, when one of Queenie’s teachers tells her that ‘Africa was a country’. She is not even a child, but a grown woman, and she does not know that a region belonging to her own empire is not in fact a country, but a continent. Irony is also added because she is a teacher, so she should be teaching the next generation correctly, but ignorance has affected her knowledge. These themes are shown again when the family visit the different countries in the exhibit. Her mother rejects every delicacy each country offers to her; seemingly she was ‘not interested in the different woods of Burma or the big-game trophies of Malaysia’. Notice the word ‘different’ in that quote – the reason she is not interested is because they are different and unfamiliar – i.e. not important to her. The family (who in this case are used by Levy to represent the British in general at the time) are wary of these different and unusual cultures and characters – at one point Queenies mother told her not to touch the Indian women, because of the red dots on their foreheads – ‘in case they were contagious’. If she...
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