Austin C. Clarke's short story "Leaving This Island Place" has been published in the short story collection From Ink Lake: Canadian Stories, collected by Michael Ondaatje, in 1990.
"Leaving This Island Place" is told from the perspective of a first-person narrator, the protagonist of the story, who is not named. The narrator is a young man preparing to leave his native Barbados ("this island place") in order to attend college in Canada. As the story opens, he is going to visit his father, who is dying in an almshouse. The narrator's mother and father were never married, and so he grew up in a home with his mother and stepfather and was not given his father's surname, making him a "bastard" child. Although his mother forbade the mention of his father's name throughout his childhood, the narrator occasionally sneaked off to visit his father. However, during the present time of the story, the narrator, who has made his way into the realm of the privileged social classes through his education, has become completely alienated from his father. His girlfriend, Cynthia, who is from a wealthy family, as symbolized by the Jaguar sports car her father has given her, does not even know he had a father. And, although she promises to see the narrator off at the airport, she does not show up. Throughout the story, the narrator repeats to himself the statement that he is "leaving this island," a step away from his family, friends, and native home about which he feels a mixture of guilt, anxiety, fear, and relief.
This story centers on themes of family, paternity, death, socioeconomic class, and the significance of "leaving" one's homeland for a foreign culture. The narrator is aware that he is, to some extent, "out of place," as an illegitimate child of an underprivileged family who has worked his way into the realm of the privileged classes. His success as a cricket player represents both his connection to his father, who had been the captain of his village cricket team, and his own hard-earned success as a social climber.