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Discuss Merle Hodge'S Crick Crack Monkey As a Novel

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Introduction

DISCUSS MERLE HODGE'S CRICK CRACK MONKEY AS A NOVEL DEALING WITH THE CONFLICT OF CULTURES. Merle Hodge born in 1944, in Trinidad is the daughter of an immigration officer. After studying at the Bishop Anstey's high school of Trinidad, she obtained the Trinidad and Tobago Girls Island Scholarship in 1962 which led her to the university college of London. She obtained a degree in French and later in 1967 a Master Philosophy degree. Merle Hodge traveled a lot in Eastern and Western Europe and when she returned to Trinidad she started teaching French in junior schools. Later she obtained a post of lecturer at the University of the West Indies. In 1979, she started to work for the bishop regime and she was appointed director of the development of curriculum. In 1983, she left Grenada because the bishop was assassinated and she is now working for the Women and Development Studies at the University of the West Indies in Trinidad. She wrote the novel Crick Crack Monkey in 1970 where she deals with the theme of childhood in the West Indies. The main protagonist called Tee lives with Tantie who is a working class woman. She later goes to live with her aunt Beatrice and she faces a new and different world from that of her Caribbean world: "Hodge's story is presented through the eyes of a black, lower class girl of Trinidad in the 1950s." The whole story is one presented from one point of view: Tee's. She is left alone by her father who goes abroad after the death of her mother and she has to live with her lower class Tantie where she learns about being independent. Later in the story her aunt Beatrice takes her and she then has to adapt herself to the 'white' world. She faces a lot of cultural and identity conflict as she does not really know where she belongs or what culture is wrong or right. ...read more.

Middle

She is always lacking in her acceptance of this culture: "her whole socialization process comes to affirm that however many of the cultural standards prescribed by the educational system, her teachers, or Aunt Beatrice she adopts, she always falls short -- and so do her teachers and Aunt Beatrice, who are similarly caught in a cycle of self-denial and self-hatred." Tantie representing the Caribbean culture warns Tee not to get carried by the colonialist instructions and this warning comes in time when Hodge introduces the teacher, Mr. Hinds who "is bent on living an English reality in the face of the facts of the Caribbean because he holds Englishness as the highest value in his life, and so it is not surprising that "[e]everyone knew that Mr. Hinds had been up to England" because he is eager to let everyone know about it. His devotion to the metropolis assumes a worshipful attitude illustrated by his "daily endeavor to bring the boys to a state of reverence" towards a "large framed portrait of Churchill" (24)." He makes the colonial education, the center of his teachings and what he teaches the students does not even include the Caribbean reality that the children are living. He tries to instill the English culture in the students: "from apples to Christmas to snow and the haystacks the children learn about in their school primers -- who do not have any lived knowledge of England, thus attempting to erase Caribbeanness in them as it has been erased in him." There is one passage which addresses the issue of language, identity and of culture. Mr. Hinds being irritated with his students says, "'Here I stand, trying to teach you to read and write the English language, trying to teach confounded piccaninnies to read and write. . . . I who have marched to glory side by side with His Majesty's bravest men -- I don't have to stand here and busy myself with . ...read more.

Conclusion

Such alienations are experienced in conditions of mental exile within one's own culture to which, given one's education, one un-belongs." (62) Tee has received an education and a western culture which is very much unlike the culture of Tantie and which in a way makes her feel the dullness of her Caribbean culture and of Tantie's world. Tee feels alienated and marginalized since the time she has started to learn the European culture and she did not feel this before in Tantie's household. Tee's alienation leads her to hopelessness and feelings that she is unworthy of living: "(Thorpe 37): "I wanted to shrink, to disappear. . . . I felt that the very sight of me was an affront to common decency. I wished that my body could shrivel up and fall away, that I could step out new and acceptable" (97). Though she does not actually contemplate killing herself, her self-hatred and eagerness to assimilate are the cultural equivalent of suicide." Tee is found without a culture and 'Aunt Beatrice's self-negating and self-hating cultural influence' on her seems to destroy her identity. Tee is unable to live in both culture and the novel: "thus ends on an ironic note: to save Tee, who is unable to return to the Caribbeanness she has known in Tantie's household through having become socialized in the worship of Englishness, Tantie sends her to the ultimate source of this cultural negation: to the metropolis, to England" "Hodge goes to great pains to portray the cultural bankruptcy of playing monkey to the Great White Ancestor. In this important respect, the narrative, which in the fiction a mature Tee relates, places considerable vaule on the vulnerable African oral culture that so easily succumbs to the power of the written". Crick Crack Monkey ending gives us a hope for Tee who goes to London and "The goal of the novel, it seems, is not to idealize a lost African past but to reveal the cultural sovereignty of Trinidad. ...read more.

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