Style and Technique
The anonymity of the narrator suggests that this story is representative of the experience of many young West Indians. The characters fit neatly into two groups: the young, who will either stay in Barbados and try to assume positions of power or emigrate and achieve self-satisfaction, and the old, who are adjusted to the limitations and oppressions or perquisites of island life. Together, they suggest that there is no viable middle way. Some readers may find the constant repetition of “I am leaving” too repetitive (it occurs seventeen times, and there are five additional variations of the same idea); however, it clearly is intended to convey the narrator’s obsession with departure. It becomes a leitmotif.
There are several vivid expressions that suggest Clarke’s skill at both characterization and description, for example, “the smell of stale urine and of sweat and faeces whipped me in the face,” and “The two large eyeballs in the sunset of this room are my father.” The inclusion of snippets of the godmother’s conversation throughout the story indicates that her remarks, unsettling rather than comforting, are a constant irritant. Most of the dialogue is void of the idiosyncracies of Barbadian dialect; as a result, the story becomes more than a single-island story and can be seen as a metaphor for all islands or small, isolated communities.