Migration Themes in Caribbean Literature: More Social Problems Than Solutions

1773 Words Mar 11th, 2011 8 Pages
Migration Themes in Caribbean Literature: More Social Problems than Solutions

Migration is a prominent theme within Caribbean literature. Despite the migrants’ initial perceptions of good fortune, the foreign countries are invariably a place of social inequalities and uncertainty. This paper discusses the varying ways in which migration is portrayed through the medium of Caribbean writing. Migration is exhibited in novels, short stories, and poems. Migration itself is portrayed with curiosity, trepidation, regret, but most often with fear; fear of being discovered, fear of ‘not making it’, fear of not being accepted, fear of the unknown situations. These elements are exposed in George Lamming’s novel The Emigrants, Edward
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That’s what we say.” (Lamming, 52). This can be compared, yet contrasted to the migrants in The Lonely Londoners. These migrants do not consider themselves as ‘fleeing’ their former countries, yet see themselves more as ‘coming’ to a new country. So they make the most of their situations, enjoy life during the summer, and huddle around the stove in the winter, discussing bonding through mutual hardships. When “Greek Meets Greek” more prominently establishes the racial persecution theme, which has a stereotypical presence in Caribbean works. Actually, the entire story is based upon this racial issue. The racism exhibited in all of these literary works is not a cruel, physical racism, but a subtle undercurrent which rarely has a direct, personal effect upon the characters. Granted, the living conditions and social structure are due to racial prejudices, but racial actions and expressions are distant and ambiguous. Selvon adds humor to the situation, perhaps masking its true historical significance, and while the manner of the story does not reflect a terrible situation, it serves to illustrate the presence of London’s prejudicial landlords. In each instance, the migrants feel the pressure and anxieties of society’s problems. The emigrants in Lamming’s novel arrive on the chores of England already with their hopes and confidence tarnished. Higgins, the most enviable character on the ship, quickly becomes the most ridiculed member, when
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