Caryl Phillips is concerned with the issue of racial discrimination specifically against the enslaved blacks during the period of slavery. Racial discriminatory practices manifested itself in the form of physical and psychological abuse, and the suppression of their voice.
The novel “Cambridge” was written by British- Caribbean novelist, Caryl Phillips in 1991. Phillips was born in St. Kitts in 1958, and settled in Leeds, England with his parents as a toddler. The story is set on a nineteenth century Caribbean plantation. Phillips focuses the novel on the issue of slavery. Slavery lasted from the mid 15th century to the late 19th century. The middle passage is the transportation of Africans to the Caribbean where they were to be…show more content… The phrase “small black fry” represents the constant disparaging of slaves in a society governed by European colonists, and serves as a tool to reinforce constraint on the slave population on the estate- as a constant reminder to blacks of their inferior position in society. The emphasis on the phrase “small black fry” personifies the extent to which blacks existed and were recognized in society. Thus, “small black fry” legitimizes the status and wealth of the European planters through the lasting psychological oppression of blacks in the period. Sociologist Rosenthal and Jacobson posits that one’s self concept is, in many cases, primarily based on other people’s perception of them and behave according to people’s perception. Hence, Phillips’s depiction of blacks’ psychological abuse exists on the basis that blacks accepted the label supplied by the whites (small black fry) and act accordingly, resulting in the self-degradation of blacks. Therefore, Caryl Phillips attempts to portray the psychological suffering of blacks in slave society as a result of the verbal abuse received from the whites.
In addition, the author also intends to emphasize his concern of the physical mistreatment of blacks in the period of slavery. This is done mainly through his presentation of the symbolism of the whip used to exert pain and brutality on the population of