In History By Jamaica Kincaid Analysis

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In History “In History”, by Jamaica Kincaid, weaves together the stories of Christopher Columbus, George Clifford, and Carl Linnaeus so that the reader may understand why the author is questioning her own history and those who are like her. Kincaid questions us, “What is History? Is it a Theory? Is it an Ideal” She answers these questions through the stories of these three men as they come across and label foreign people, lands, or plants. Kincaid implies that the act of identifying and labeling unfamiliar with familiar terms are taken from these men 's subjective lives. This familiarity equips these “discoverers” with the illusion of knowing the thing that they have labeled. Kincaid digs into the motivations behind such labeling and …show more content…
There is an implication that their understanding of these exotic creatures and customs is incomplete. In the same way Kincaid claims these men labeled things, Kincaid herself understands Columbus, Linnaeus, and Clifford through the same process, sometimes even intentionally altering the history of them. For example, she decides to call Clifford “neurotic”, although she admits she has found no mention of any such neurosis in historical records (6). She states that he is only neurotic, “obviously only to me, I arbitrarily deem him so; no account of him I have ever come across has described him so” (6). Her understanding of his motivations and her depiction of Clifford have been negatively affected by her own …show more content…
Is it a collection of facts, all true and precise details…” (1).
These questions suggests that, like everything else, history is a “truth” that cannot be viewed without considering perspective. Is history an idea or an open wound? Is this name “history” like Linnaeus’s stately tree, a tree that was not ordinary and that one could choose as one’s name? Or, is history an open wound? Is it the wax and wane of domination and cruelty throughout time? Kincaid strongly suggests that only those who desire an objective standard to name things are those who wish to control those very things. History, it seems, rests in an open wound. Through the use of such a loose and personal rhetorical style and through the use of differing perspectives of the truth, Kincaid implies that anything that we choose to stamp with an immovable name is ultimately us naming the nature of

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