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James 1 Tiffany James Mr.

McCauley Foundations of Criticism 7 November 2013 Split in Two The definition of postcolonialism is an academic discipline featuring methods that analyze, explain, and respond to the cultural legacies of colonialism and of imperialism, to the human consequences of controlling a country and establishing settlers for the economic exploitation of the native people and their land. For the most part, postcolonial studies excludes literature that represents either British or American viewpoints and concentrate on writings from colonized or formerly colonized cultures in Australia, New Zealand, Africa, South America, and other places that were once dominated by, but remained outside, the white, male, European cultural, political, and philosophical tradition (Bressler 200). The main point of postcolonialism in literature is to look at the tension/ conflict between the colonizer and the colonized, to look at what the literature says about the speakers cultural identity and sense of self and how language plays a part. All of these aspects can be observed in Derek Walcotts poem The River. Right off the bat Walcott starts inferring that there is tension between the colonizers and the colonized. As the title of the poem flows into the poem itself the speaker says, the river was one, once; reduced by circumstance the Council tends it (Walcott 1-4),

James 2 this lets the reader know that something happened to cause the river to lose a piece of itself. However, with just these lines Walcott is not just talking about a river dividing, but a people, a nation dividing and becoming separate entities with different backgrounds and culture. At one point the river could roar through town,/ foul-mouthed, brown-muscled, brazenly/ drunk, a raucous country-bookie (Walcott 5-7). Before the colonizers came and took over, the people of Barbados were free to do as they pleased. The men could drink as much as they liked, when they liked and could make as much noise as they wanted when walking through town. However, with the colonizers coming in and taking over all of that has changed because lately it has grown/ too footloose for this settlement/ of shacks, rechristened a city (Walcott 8-10). The way the people of Barbados acted before is no longer seen as acceptable because the European colonizers feel that their way to acting and living is the only way that things should be done. The colonized do not like the fact that their way of life is being overturned by the colonizer and that they are losing their sense of self and cultural identity little by little. The old town and the colonized peoples strength (was) wasted on gutters, (they) never understood the age,/ what progress meant (Walcott 11-13). The colonized people and their home is slowly, but surely being changed and the people are not sure how to deal with it and do not understand it. Their small dirt village has become a small polished city which the new generation grows up in. Somewhere among the European changes like the stern, stone Victorian bridge (Walcott 18), the people of Barbados have lost their cultural heritage that could be found in the way they lived which no longer exists. This brings about a pivotal point in the poem where the reader has been shown how things are changing and how the children of this mixed ethical breeding are not sure of their sense of self and what their cultural identity is because they do not feel as if they belong to either group: the Barbados of the Europeans.

James 3 The speaker shows this loss of identity and sense of self through how language is referred to in the poem. The speaker says, so its clear, brown integument/ shrivelled, its tongue stutters/ through the official language (Walcott 14-16). The children from these mixed unions do not know where to place themselves and are not sure where they would be accepted because they are not all of one ethnic group, but a mixture of two. They cannot truly speak the official language so they do not belong to the group of the colonized, but their skin may be darker which causes them to be shunned by the colonizers. Realizing that they need to survive, the colonized surrenders its gutterals (Walcott 17), its language. However, they reclaimed (Walcott 19) them before they lose them all together. But one day these children with conflicting identities will have forged their own place in society and they will wake up and realize that no one gave a damn what the words (from the original language) meant (Walcott 31). Walcotts poem provides the reader with a new way of looking at literature: a postcolonialism way. The poem touches on aspects of tension between the colonizer and the colonized, the speakers sense of self and cultural identity and how language plays a part in it all. It provides the reader with a grasp of how the speaker felt confused because they were not sure exactly where they belonged. When it comes down to what the reader needs to truly understand is that when a people are taken over and the colonizer mixes with the colonized, the people who suffer the most are not the colonizer, not the colonized, but the children born from them.

James 4 Works Cited Bressler, Charles. Postcolonialism. Literary Criticism. 5th ed. United States: Pearson Eucation, Inc., 2011. 197-209. Print. Walcott, Derek. The River.