Michelle Cliff 's Utilization Of Language Essay

Michelle Cliff 's Utilization Of Language Essay

Length: 1185 words (3.4 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Better Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Michelle Cliff’s utilization of language in Abeng is paramount to the novel’s discussion of nationality and identity. As it is a postcolonial text, Cliff faces the decision of what language she would adopt to tell the story, ultimately deciding on hybridizing formal English in narration and dialogue with occasional Patois dialogue. Her decision here communicates several of the underlying themes of the text that Cliff attempts to address. Throughout the novel, there is juxtaposition between Clare’s narration and the dialogue that occurs between her and other characters. Cliff introduces the juxtaposition in a way that it is difficult to notice at first, due to early encounters with characters being in English. However, as the novel progresses, it exposes the readers to further Patois and the juxtaposition is clear. Throughout the essay, I will be examining four examples of dialogue in Cliff’s novel, and what she calls attention to with her choice of language in the passages. I will argue that by calling attention to the politics of language, Cliff is urging the reader to recognize the alienating effects of language.
Typically, Clare continues to speak in formal English to people who respond in Patois for example, a conversation with Dorothy “’But how is he off, Dorothy?’ ‘Him is battyman – him want fe lay down wit’ only other men. No ask me no more’” (125) this suggests that Clare does not feel completely comfortable speaking Patois to people that she does not intimately identify with, such as Zoe and her grandmother. Therefore, suggesting that speaking Patois is a personal, cultural practice that is excluding Clare however, there is the possibility that she is excluding herself. Both of these situations add weight to the idea tha...


... middle of paper ...


...e novel allows the reader to interpret the text in multiple different ways. Here, Cliff employs it to convey closeness and distance, even taking it to the extreme of alienation. There is a significant attempt to rid the novel of the euro-centric overtones present in other texts. Moreover, she does this in creative and interesting ways, utilizing the juxtaposition between the formal English narration of Clare, and the Patois dialect that both Clare and the reader encounter throughout the text. At first, portraying this as ‘other’, however later in the novel the shift becomes that the English narration is the other, the Patois serving as the base of connection for Clare. However, the text never allows the reader to forget constant tension between the narration and the dialogue and it serves to highlight the alienation and distance that Clare feels throughout the novel.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Clare in Michelle Cliff´s Abeng Essays

- As stated in my previous answer, Michelle Cliff’s novel Abeng is a coming-of-age story and a provocative retelling of the colonial history of Jamaica. The main character in this novel is Clare Savage, who is a light-skinned, twelve-year-old, middle class girl growing up in Jamaica during the 1950s. Throughout the novel, Clare tries to find her own identity and place in culture while also dealing with her gender, sexuality, British imperialism, her race/ethnicity, social class, etc. Abeng is a novel that tells multiple stories within one whole story....   [tags: Gender, Race, Identity]

Better Essays
646 words (1.8 pages)

Abeng by Michelle Cliff and Mistreated Women of the Carribean Essay

- The Caribbean regional colonial imperialism produced institutions and movements that deeply affected and continue to affect the lives of Caribbean women. Caribbean women’s literature represents sexual violence and the ideological appropriation of gender identity, gender roles, sexuality, race and ethnicity, and culture and class. The impressionable and forming years of an individual are too often controlled by what society feels correct is based on gender, race and culture. Although one may not behave as their society feels is appropriate, in no way should this result in making someone feel less or wrong because they are of color, female and strong-minded....   [tags: gender, race, Jamaica]

Better Essays
1311 words (3.7 pages)

Utilization Of Spanish Speech Testing

- Utilization of Spanish Speech Testing Flores, Martin, and Champlin (1996) moved into studying the application of Spanish speech tests in a clinical setting. Their study involved audiologists from across five states with the highest reported Spanish speaking population at that time: New Mexico, Arizona, California, Texas, and Colorado (Flores, 1996). 35% of audiologists from each of the aforementioned states were chosen randomly to participate in the 26-question survey that requested information about current clinical approaches to providing audiological services to their respective Spanish populations (Flores, 1996)....   [tags: Spanish language, Language, Multilingualism]

Better Essays
808 words (2.3 pages)

Michelle Young : Leading A Life Of Inspiration Essays

- Michelle Young: Leading a Life of Inspiration Being an interpreter is hard enough on its own, but when a family and a life of mission is added to the mix, the product is an astounding woman. Michelle Young, a woman of thirty-one has achieved more than some people in her life. She attends Atascosita Community Church and works for Accessible Signs, as a sign language interpreter. Through her husband, Dale, she was introduced to sign language. Dale’s sister is deaf and his mother is an interpreter as well....   [tags: High school, College, Sign language]

Better Essays
1346 words (3.8 pages)

‘Goodnight Mr Tom’ by Michelle Magorian Essay

- The chapter we chose to write about was 22, 'Grieving' because it was very moving. In this chapter William tries to bottle up his feelings about Zach's death and Geoffrey seems to understand Will's grief. It is also William's first Christmas with Mr Tom, so they make homemade toys for incoming evacuees, due to increased bomb raids in London. Will also learns from Geoffrey that 'he can live without Zach, even though he still misses him’ as Will discovers that Geoffrey lost a friend while fighting in the war and learns to overcome his grief....   [tags: Goodnight Mr Tom, Michelle Magorian, ]

Better Essays
859 words (2.5 pages)

Michelle Obama, The First Lady And The Wife Of Barack Obama Essay

- Michelle Obama said “You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not always be able to solve all the world 's problems at once but don 't ever underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own.” Michelle Obama born January 17, 1964, who was Raised on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois is the first lady and the wife of Barack Obama, the 44th president of the United States. Michelle is influential in the African-American community because she has such positive impact among st them....   [tags: Barack Obama, African American, Michelle Obama]

Better Essays
802 words (2.3 pages)

Essay about Michele Cliff, Sidney Mintz and Antonio Benitez-Rojo's Writings

- Michele Cliff, Sidney Mintz and Antonio Benitez-Rojo's Writings With a focus on articles written by Michele Cliff, Antonio Benitez-Rojo, and Sidney Mintz. Michelle Cliff, "If I Could Write This on Fire, I Would Write This on Fire," and Abeng Antonio Benitz-Rojo, "From plantation to Plantation"; Sidney Mintz, "The Caribbean: A Sociocultural Area"; On this island of Black and Brown, she had inherited her father’s green eyes—which all agreed were her "finest feature." Visibly, she was the family’s crowning achievement, combining the best of both sides, and favoring one rather than the other....   [tags: Caribbean Race Racial Issues Essays]

Free Essays
1096 words (3.1 pages)

The Barriers Of Associated With Glass Ceiling And Glass Cliff Essay

- There is only 4% of Fortune 500 companies have women as CEO. Women are under-represented in senior leadership roles in business, politics and sport. Over the decades, as the world evolved, Schein’s (2001) ‘think manager, think male’’ persists in the modern world. As more women are slowly rising into leadership roles at all levels, females might prove to have the equal ability as men to become a leader (Bass, B. M., Avolio, B. J. and Atwater, L. 1996) However, there is no clear gender advantage in leadership derived from traits ( Caril and Eagly, 2011)....   [tags: Leadership, Gender, Gender role, Management]

Better Essays
1418 words (4.1 pages)

The Tragic Cliff Essay

- The Tragic Cliff Everyone needs a place to escape the everyday complications of life. Life has its ups and downs and we all learn to deal with them in different ways. Some people use exercise to release stress while others find places to hide from the stress for short periods of time. I found a place of relaxation hundreds of feet above everyone looking down. Right outside of town there is a cliff that overlooks the downtown area. There I feel as though I am above everyone and nothing could touch me....   [tags: Descriptive Essay Examples]

Better Essays
806 words (2.3 pages)

Language Essay

- The three key ideas that I have explored during my on-line and discussions are: firstly the importance of maintaining of Te reo Māori in New Zealand. Secondly, the role of teachers in maintaining Te Reo Māori in centres and finally I realised the need to acquire second language. Fishman (1996) point out that to lose a language means to lose a culture. Base on this point, I strongly agree that regeneration and maintenance of Māori language is the most imperative action that we should take. Te Kohanga Reo was developed in response to Māori concern ensuring the continuing survival of the Maori language....   [tags: Communication, Māori Language ]

Free Essays
902 words (2.6 pages)