In the Castle of My Skin, the first novel by Barbadian writer George Lamming, tells the story of the mundane events in a young boy's life that take place amid dramatic changes in the village and society in which he lives. First published in London in 1953, the novel uses such characteristic devices of modernist fiction as shifting perspectives and unreliable narration to recount the boyhood of a fairly traditional fictional protagonist: a sensitive, unusually intelligent young boy, with a protective mother, who grows up among his peers but, because of his intelligence, takes a different path.
The novel's main concern, however, is not the individual consciousness of the protagonist. Rather, Lamming uses the growth and education of G. (his hero) as a device through which to view the legacy of colonialism and slavery in Caribbean village society in the middle of the twentieth century, and to document the changes that time brings to this sleepy hamlet. The novel's primary concerns are larger than the experience of G. as an individual. Through his eyes, we see the effects of race, feudalism, capitalism, education, the labor movement, violent riots, and emigration on his small town and, by extension, on Caribbean society as a whole. In later books, Lamming continued to examine the Caribbean experience, as his protagonists migrated to London and the United States, returned to their homes in the Caribbean, and helped their home countries obtain independence. But in In the Castle of My Skin, as befits his choice of protagonist, the scope of perception is limited to the personal, domestic, and village spheres. Through this restricted view, the reader receives a comprehensive image of significant sociocultural changes in a tradition-bound part of the world.