Short Story: Let them Call it Jazz
Plot overview: The actions of the various Londoner’s (including Police) create difficulties for this woman who is an outsider. At first the victim of a crime - a set up which works to get her thrown out of her own flat - she is forced to leave and take up residence at a home in an exclusive area of London. She is pressured to stay by the gentleman who owns the house despite insistence on wanting to leave. Events slowly escalate for her, until she inadvertently becomes a criminal herself and thrown in jail, she loses hope, stops eating. She often does nothing to make things right, or acts in ways which further complicates her situation - drinking and taking “pain medication”, singing and throwing a rock through a window - but mostly she is the victim of her own passive, laid back ways and mindset which contrasts sharply with the uptight people around her. There is a major shift after she hears the “Holloway song” sung by a prison inmate whom she never sees. She begins to eat again, is bailed out of jail, moves to a new flat, takes a job, makes a new friend, and receives five pounds for inspiring a Jazz artist who interprets the bluesy Holloway song as an upbeat melody which becomes a successful song.
Setting: descriptions of setting are of particular interest: she starts off in a simple room, a flat, a place she’d like to stay. She then moves to the large home in an upscale neighborhood with a large garden- but it is run down and she shares it with a couple who show her no interest and she is antagonised by the neighbors. She then is taken to Holloway prison, described as a “black castle”. It seems as her descent from a free, independent woman to an imprisoned woman who no longer wants anything, is ironically mirrored by her movement from flat to home to castle (an upward ascent by Western standards). When she moves back to a flat, she is much happier.
The device of 1st person narration is used to great effect in this story. We get tremendous insight into the way the narrator thinks and how her way of thinking contrasts so strikingly with the way the Londoners think. We see how she is easily taken advantage of in her inability or even desire to fight back or defend herself. The effect is our understanding of how she gets herself into these difficult situations and that we ultimately sympathize with her. We also may feel a bit frustrated with her for not defending herself, or unsympathetic with her for her drinking and drug use and for throwing the rock, which she notes for herself is out of character. Dramatic irony occurs in that we the reader know that she is innocent of certain crimes, that she is provoked to throw the rock into the stained glass window by the evil neighbors, but the police do not. This use of dramatic irony helps create our frustrations as readers and desire to speak up for her when she does not. We also see her innocent, child-like behaviour in prison, which is misunderstood by the guards.
We see the tone of the narration shift from contempt and disgust over the actions of the Londoners: “Don’t talk to me about London. Plenty people have heart like stone”, and “She too cunning, and Satan don’t lie worse” “Once I laugh in his face because why these people have to be like that?” to deep apathy over her situation when she goes to prison, where she becomes “hard like a rock” and where she “care for nothing now” and she will “never cry again” (sic) and where “you have no hope”.
Of particular note is the WAY she speaks/narrates - her grammar and speech patterns reflect her West Indian culture and attitudes which contrast sharply with the Londoners’ speech and attitudes. “He tell me this” instead of “He tells me this” are slight diversions from standard English and grammatical structures such as “as if those old dark walls theyselves are complaining” and “-you never see such a thing” are phrases that we clearly understand, but...
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