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Prejudice in “On Seeing England for the First Time” by Kincaid

Jamaica Kincaid’s “On Seeing England for the First Time” is a piece that reflects on her pessimistic view of the country. The narrative of the writing constructs a growing dislike, or even hatred, for England through comparisons to what can be seen as negative metaphors, such as a leg of mutton or a jail (33). She also notes that the smell of the people in England is ‘unbearable’, ‘different’, and that they were ‘ugly’. This leads Kincaid to confront the descriptions as prejudiced, but she addresses this by saying that “I may be capable of prejudice, but my prejudices have no weight to them” (39). This conclusive statement is essential in understanding much of the thematic issues that are addressed in Kincaid’s writing. First, it assesses the long-lasting effects of colonization on the identities and perception of both the colonized and colonizing nations. Second, the piece considers the relationship between the idea of a nation and its reality, and how certain people confront this distinction. Third, and perhaps most important, the piece is an insight into Kincaid’s loss of identity at the hands of colonization and how it transforms into the hostility that can be seen in the writing.

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Based on many morality systems, the generalization of any nation has no positive results and is inherently wrong. As such, prejudices built upon these generalizations cannot be justified. Kincaid’s hostility towards England based on the people’s hair, smell, weather, traditions, or beliefs is not justified in isolation. However, the narrative of “On Seeing England for the First Time” does not simply exist as a text that criticizes England without context. Much of the hostility within the piece is a symbol for Kincaid’s anger towards her own loss of culture and identity when confronted with the respected and protected English culture. She feels that it is unfair that they continue to have an identity while hers was taken by the same people. As such, the text illustrates a deeper meaning of cultural loss behind prejudice towards England.

Reference

Kincaid, J. (1991). On Seeing England for the First Time. Transition, 51, 32-40. Web.

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StudyCorgi. "Prejudice in “On Seeing England for the First Time” by Kincaid." October 7, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/prejudice-in-on-seeing-england-for-the-first-time-by-kincaid/.

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StudyCorgi. 2022. "Prejudice in “On Seeing England for the First Time” by Kincaid." October 7, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/prejudice-in-on-seeing-england-for-the-first-time-by-kincaid/.

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StudyCorgi. (2022) 'Prejudice in “On Seeing England for the First Time” by Kincaid'. 7 October.

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