First Impressions: Q2. Explain how the writer presents his experience of going to school for the first time. By Raphael Kahlid


A2. Written by Austin Clarke, this passage is an excerpt from “Growing up stupid under the Union Jack”. It is a first person narration that provides us the experience of the narrator in his first day of school. A short sequence of the emphasis on skin color is a reference to the date provided in the passage, 1944 and holds an underlying message.

This passage adopts very conversational and casual tone with much homage to the time period and region (the Caribbean) to allow the reader to relate with the similar atmosphere of schools, that is, a friendly and frank one. This tone is achieved through terms like, “dunce” and phrases like, “Go ‘long, boy…”  and the dialect is seen too through phrases like, “ You is Comberemore boy now!”

The time period and area is important to note as in 1944 under British rule in Barbados (the country where the school is) there was a lack of education and equal rights, so this notion is presented through the excitement of the narrator’s mother and entire village upon his entry into school. This is done to allow the reader to acknowledge the clear differences brought about through the decades. This is further emphasized on by the introduction of an otherwise irrelevant character, Delcina, praised to be “Beautiful…” with emphasis on her being “black” twice, and also done by the following contrast, of her washing being “white as snow”.

The audience is young adult to adult with the theme being first impressions. The audience is held interested through a descriptive touch, “shining, gold-painted…”, “Looking like a small silver coffin,” and perhaps the nostalgia brought about by the uniformity of school through the haircut segment.

The overall intended effect the writer hoped to achieve was to allow his reader to realize how person’s initial goals may be lower than a higher possibly achieved standard. The author wants his reader to know that the goals he set for himself can be raised and that there should be no limit to goals. I believe the writer does this gracefully while keeping in mind the time period and cultural standards by the author having his mother tell him that he can be a doctor; where as the child’s highest expectation was that of a civil servant.

Comments are closed.