Why does Eddie say that he doesn't like daffodils? What do these flowers mean to both Eddie and the young narrator of "The Day They Burned the Books"? How do they both feel about the English—and why?

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In "The Day They Burned The Books" by Jean Rhys , a key theme is that of colonialism and the relationship between different cultures. When Eddie states that he doesn't like daffodils, he is referring to his dislike of the aspects of English culture that the children have been encouraged...

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to admire. He has probably never actually seen daffodils (as he is on a Caribbean island), yet they represent to him England and English culture. More than that, they represent his father and his father's love of English culture and consequent disdain of local culture.

Eddie, the "special friend" of the narrator, is the son of a Caribbean woman and her husband, Mr. Sawyer—who is presumably English, although this is never actually explicitly stated. Mr. Sawyer, we learn, is often drunk, rude, and racist towards his wife. When he criticizes her, he refers to aspects of her perceived "otherness"—such as her skin color and her smell—with demeaning, abusive comments, such as "you damned, long-eyed, gloomy half caste."

Meanwhile, Mr. Sawyer praises English culture and fills a room with books by British authors. As such, Eddie connects England and "Englishness" with his father. Eddie's "bold" outburst that he likes neither strawberries or daffodils is both a rejection of English culture and a rejection of his mean bullying father.

At school, the children are expected to read British literature and are "tired of learning and reciting poems about daffodils." There is an assumption and expectation that all things British or English are to be admired and respected, yet the children have conflicted feelings about their relationship with England. Indeed, when the narrator does meet actual English people, it is "awkward," and she finds herself snubbed for not being properly English: "you're not English. You're a horrid colonial."

For the narrator, Eddie's statement about not liking daffodils is a moment of realization that her difficult relationship with England and English people is not just a personal problem but one that is shared with at least Eddie—and maybe others. It had never occurred to her to express her conflicted feelings about England and "Englishness," and when Eddie does so, she feels able to admit it too.

Rather than assuming that everything English is good and everything local is less admirable, the narrator's true relationship with England is acknowledged, and this acknowledgement represents the possibility of coming to a better understanding of the nature of colonialism and how it impacts cultures and families.

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When Eddie says that he doesn't like daffodils it is, implicitly, because they are a symbol of England. What Eddie doesn't like is England. The daffodils have no inherent qualities or characteristics that Eddie dislikes. He simply dislikes them because they are a symbol of the England which his father is always saying is better than the West Indies, where they live now.

Eddie and his friend, the narrator, also dislike daffodils because they always have to read English poems in their school (presumably a school for English expatriates) which are "in praise of daffodils." The allusion here might be to the poetry of Wordsworth, an English poet who liked to write about daffodils. Also, the narrator dislikes the English children he meets, describing them as haughty and condescending. The English children call the local children "horrid colonial(s)."

In short then Eddie and the narrator dislike the English because they are haughty and rude, and also because the English expatriates don't seem to embrace the culture of their new home in the West Indies.

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