“The Day They Burned the Books
Ella Gwendolen Rees Williams, known as Jean Rhys was born August 24, 1890 on the small island of Dominica in the West Indies. Born to a Creole mother and a welsh-born doctor she was one of the only white girls in a predominantly black community. Feeling isolated, Rhys left her small island for schooling in England only returning once in 1936. After attending several schools in England Rhys was considered the outcast and mocked because of her accent. After being told she was unable to speak “proper english” Rhys became a successful chorus girl. Rhys was involved in three different marriages and began writing after a near fatal abortion. She began to write some of her greatest pieces after moving in with English writer Ford Madox Ford who also convinced her to change her name to Jean Rhys. She died May 14, 1979 with a somewhat unhappy state of mind.
English writer Ford Madox Ford was one of the first writers to discover Jean Rhys’s literary significance. He praised her for “singular instinct for form,” and also noticed that the fact that she was an outsider gave her a very unique viewpoint. Jean Rhys was always the underdog and most of her background showed through in her stories. Her contribution to English literature came from her childhood. She showed what she had been through growing up in the West Indies, and the things she had seen. She then portrayed these certain things through out several of her stories. Her stories reflect outsiders who come back with a sense of dominance and independence. Regardless of the things she had seen and been through she still came out on top.
Jean Rhys’s short story “The Day They Burned the Books,” is set in the Dominican Republic in the 1900’s just before the world war one. Economic times were very trying during this time and extremely hard on the people who lived there. The narrator seems to take the role of Jean Rhys as a young, naïve child...
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