“The Post-Colonial writings of women throughout the African diaspora often reflect ambivalence toward place and language (). ” Discuss with reference to Olive Senior’s Gardening in the Tropics. ‘ Displacement and Doubt in Post-Colonial Literature Nostalgic yet ambivalent, is the unrelenting reaction expressed by Post-colonial female writers of the African diasporic community living and writing abroad.
Jean Rhys and Olive Senior are two such female writers who portray via their literary works, the personal struggles they experience, of yearning to be home whilst fearing rejection and seeking their own national and cultural identity through their own displacement. Olive Senior’s ‘Gardening in the Tropics’ is an example of a collection of work that through the use of poetic and literary techniques, effectively displays her ambivalence towards her identity whilst gaining affirmation.
Post-colonial writing embraces the language and ideas that have been rejected by the Europeans while seeking to disseminate the Hegemonic thinking imprinted on the West Indian groups and reshaping our values and identity. This literature is rich in passionate and determined female writers that seek to present a once muted female voice on issues that may arise in the mind of individual who feels out of place and doubtful.
Sushiela Nasta quotes that “the Post-Colonial woman writer is not only involved in making herself heard, in changing the architecture of male-centred ideologies and languages, or in discovering new forms and languages to express her experience. She has also to subvert and demythologise indigenous male writings and traditions which seek to label her1. ” Language is an important technique utilized by Post-colonial writers to express frustration and grievance.
As Sushiela Nasta states in the book, Motherlands: Black women’s writing from Africa; Caribbean and South Asia, “language is both a source and womb of creativity, a means of giving birth to new stories, new myths, of telling stories of women that have been previously silenced. ” Language is in fact a creative medium to express a writer’s deepest thought, experiences and struggles. Olive Senior utilizes language in an interesting way that has garnered much attention by critics.
Her life history stems from a bi-cultural childhood that has allowed her dynamic use of language to not only represent her Caribbean and African roots that are embraced by Senior, but as well her English heritage. In an interview with poet and novelist Kwame Dawes, Senior expresses how ‘Gardening in the Tropics’ is a medium to give a voice to the voiceless and the collection explores gardening as metaphorically representing a quest through the landscape for her identity and place of belonging influenced by her Jamaica and English mix.
‘Talking in the Trees’ is another collection by Senior in which she first explored the personal questions that remained in her mind of where she belongs. Her racially and culturally mixed background amidst social rejection in her Mother Country and abroad has caused her experience a feeling of displacement and to seek greater affirmation of her Caribbean identity whilst embracing her current Canadian culture as she states below: “I affirm myself as a Caribbean person and identity and the way I define that is somebody who, precisely like me, embodies not different races, and different cultures.
I mean people just have to take me or leave me. ” Olive Senior is attributed for her technique of tonial and linguistic variation and her ease of switch. As she has often expressed, her switch is effortless due to this being her natural style influenced by her dynamic cultural background. “Though I not quarrelsome I have to say: look I tired now” The lines above from the poem, ‘Meditation on Yellow’ exhibits one of Senior’s dialect changes.