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How has Grace Nichols created a sense of other cultures in her poems 'Fat Black Woman goes shopping', 'Tropical Death' and 'Praise Song for my mother'?

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Introduction

How has Grace Nichols created a sense of other cultures in her poems 'Fat Black Woman goes shopping', 'Tropical Death' and 'Praise Song for my mother'? Grace Nichols was born and brought up in Georgetown, Guyana. She was moved to London where she still lives. Due to the history of invasions the people from the Caribbean Islands are a mixture of races. Most of the original Caribbean people were killed off by disease brought to the Islands by western explorers. As a result of this, Grace Nichols is a mixture of races and this comes through in her poetry, as she mixes standard English and Creole. Also her multicultural background leaves her searching for her roots and her identity. This also comes through in her poetry as she often creates an idyllic image of the Caribbean using warm imagery, and contrasts this with a cold, unwelcoming image of northern Europe. 'Fat Black Woman goes shopping' is a humorous poem that delivers a serious message. The message is that the British fashion industry does not accommodate everyone. The character feels out of place, when she is shopping in London. This is because of the weather and the welcome she gets. ...read more.

Middle

That links with 'The fat black woman goes shopping' poem, where the 'salesgals' behaved coldly towards her. The line 'no quiet jerk tear wiping also tells us a lot about how Grace feels about European funerals. Firstly the line is awkward to say, many of the words are monosyllabic and are difficult to say. This tells us that Grace feels Europeans find it hard to express emotion. It also tells us what kind of funeral fat black woman, and possibly Grace Nichols wants. It tells us she wants people to express emotions and 'brawl' backs this up. A brawl is usually an emotionally driven event, and that is what she wants her funeral to be. The alliteration of 'heart/hibiscus' also tells us more about the funeral that the fat black woman wants. A 'hibiscus' is a shrub that is usually placed on the coffin at Caribbean funerals. When we link this, with the other information we have, its clear that the fat black woman wants a traditional Caribbean funeral. A long, emotionally driver celebration of her life. The rhythm of: 'first night third night nine night' This is like the beat of a drum or a heart, reinforcing the idea that she wants to die in her roots, in the Caribbean. ...read more.

Conclusion

Another way the poems can be linked is that they all are about strong, assertive characters searching for their identity. We see this the most in 'The Fat Black Woman Goes Shopping'. The 'fat black woman' is in search of accommodating clothes to make her feel closer to her roots. The three poems together are about the cycle of life. "Praise Song for my Mother" is written in a very simple style and is about Nichols' childhood. "The Fat Black Woman Goes Shopping" is about a woman struggling to belong in her adulthood and "Tropical Death" is about death. However all three poems show a character searching for her identity at all stages of her life. Through the poems Nichols makes it clear where she feels most comfortable. It is in the Caribbean. In "The Fat Black Woman Goes Shopping" she shows this by contrasting North Europe with the Caribbean. Dull bleak imagery is used to describe Europe and warm natural imagery is used to describe the Caribbean. In "Tropical Death" it is shown in a similar way, but by contrasting European funerals with Caribbean funerals. In "Praise Song For My Mother" it is made clear by using imagery to create an idyllic image of the Caribbean. Ryan Wanklyn ...read more.

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