Songs of Silence

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Songs of Silence - LITERATURE NOTES
ABOUT CURDELLA FORBES
* Born in Claremont, Hanover, in Jamaica.
* Taught at the University of the West Indies from 1990 to 1995. * She is currently a professor of Caribbean Literature at Howard University.

CURDELLA FORBES' NOVELS
* Songs of Silence, 2003
* Flying with Icarus, 2003
* A Permanent Freedom, 2008
* From Nation to Diaspora: Samuel Selvon, George Lamming And the Cultural Performance of Gender, 2005

SUMMARY
The book is about the recollections of a female narrator called Marlene (Nice). Her recollections are dispersed chronologically, and appear to have no rational order, but many of the same characters can be found in most of the 'stories', which occur in and around the same district.

SETTING
* Rural Jamaica.
* Recollections/ stories are set in the 1960's.

MAJOR CHARACTERS: Marlene, Effita, No Name, Nathan, Miss Minnie, Raymond, Ionie, Maas Barber, Long Man, Cudjoe Man, Dolly, Minna, Mr. Papacita.

RECOLLECTIONS/ STORIES
1. 'EFFITA'
This is a recollection of the Sunday ritual of taking food to Aunt Sare. Her habit of praying for the carrier of the food is explored in great detail. The comedic telling of Effie's death announcements is another detail that is explored. We learn what happens when she gives a wrong announcement for Melwyn, and no announcement for Son Son. This recollection ends with Effie's death in 1995, with the implication that few people attended her funeral, despite the fact that most of the people in the district were related.

SETTING: Green Town, Maaga Bay, Lucea, Montego Bay.

CHARACTERS:
Marlene/ Nice - the protagonist and narrator.
Effita - the person who did informal death announcements for the district. Son Son - the narrator's male schoolmate who died, also Effie's nephew. Melwyn - Marlene's cousin who was shot by Chisel Bwoy, then given an incorrect death announcement by Effie. Aunt Sare - the elderly lady who was a mid-wife. She would pray for every child that delivered food for her. Ionie - Marlene's mother

Chisel Bwoy - the police constable who shot Melwyn
Miss Zeta - the shop owner.
Maas Levi - the only person in the district with a car, an old Chevrolet that the villagers called 'May Reach'. Mass Rat - the carpenter and coffin maker.
Miss Herfa - Man Teacher's wife and a teacher herself.
Man Teacher - the principal of the local school.

THEMES - death, old age.

2. 'A STORY WITH NO NAME'
This is the story of a lady with no name. It is reputed that she was abandoned by her wealthy family. She is an anomaly in the district because she is high coloured, did not speak, was very expressive in church before her silence, and was reclusive. She put her reclusive nature on pause once a month, when she went to town in order to visit the post office to collect packages. The story gets interesting when she got pregnant and no-one knew the father. The child became her life, and she shared him with no one, but kept him to herself. He turned out to be even more silent than his mother. It was, however, rumoured that Maas Barber, Marlene's father, was the child's father. In between the telling of this story, is Marlene's explanation of her own silence.

SETTING: Tam Briscoe Hill, Baltree District,

CHARACTERS
Marlene/ Nice - the protagonist and narrator.
No Name - the light skinned lady who was related to the Briscoes (rich landowners in the district)Ionie - Marlene's mother. Maas Barber - Marlene's father.
Magsie - Marlene's sister.
Long Man - a traveler who used to pass through the district and stay at the narrator's house. Luce Blagrove - the person who spread the rumour that Paul was Maas Barber's child. Miss Clemmy - the lady who ran the post office.

Paul - No Name's son.
Evert Briscoe - He was the only member of the Briscoe family who came home sometimes, he owned the piece of hill and the land that Maas Barber oversaw.

THEMES: Racism, Alienation, Women in Society,...
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