No Telephone to Heaven

by Michelle Cliff
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Clearly state the dilemma faced by Caribbean immigrant people, especially Caribbean women, who immigrate to the US to escape the bad life.

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In Michelle Cliff ’s novel, the main characters who leave Jamaica for the United States are the Savage family. The father, Boy Savage, makes this decision in large part because of poverty. He has incurred many debts. His wife, Kitty, and their daughter, Clare, accompany him to New York. The...

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In Michelle Cliff’s novel, the main characters who leave Jamaica for the United States are the Savage family. The father, Boy Savage, makes this decision in large part because of poverty. He has incurred many debts. His wife, Kitty, and their daughter, Clare, accompany him to New York. The family members, who are partially of African descent, face numerous problems upon arrival in the highly segregated country. Each of them suffers an identity crisis in a different way. Their problems are related to racism, which brings both internal and external conflicts.

Boy, who is light-skinned, is determined to pass as white. He believes that this is the best path for his daughter to follow as well. His efforts to hide their race fail when he attempts to enroll her in a segregated school. The administer does not believe that Clare is white and refuses to admit her.

Kitty Savage is opposed to her husband’s efforts to conceal their race. She, being darker, could not pass as white. She also believes that lying will cause psychological damage to her daughter. These conflicts prevent the family from connecting with other members of the Jamaican community. Kitty’s response is to give up on the United States, returning to her Jamaican home. Clare first tries to find a better environment in England. Later, she returns to Jamaica to engage in radical political activism.

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