Analysis Of Michelle Cliff 's ' And What She Calls Essay example

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Michelle Cliff’s use of language in Abeng is paramount to the novel’s discussion of nationality and identity. As it is a postcolonial novel, Cliff had to decide what language she would use to tell the story, ultimately deciding on hybridizing formal English in narration and dialogue with occasional Patois dialogue. Her decision here helps communicate some of the underlying themes of the novel that Cliff attempts to address. Throughout the text, 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 formal English. However, as the novel progresses, the readers see more 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 use of language in the passages. I will argue that by calling attention to the politics of language, Cliff is urging the reader to see 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 know, such as Zoe and her…

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