What I Have Been Doing Lately by Jamaica Kincaid

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Ideas for Group Discussions

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

In "What I Have Been Doing Lately," Kincaid examines issues of femininity and colonialism through a circular narrative. She has been applauded by critics for her lyrical prose and her use of symbolic imagery.

1. How can colonization affect the literature of a region? More specifically, how might writers who have been colonial subjects use their art to address issues of colonization?

2. How does Kincaid's use of symbols contribute to or hinder your understanding of "What I Have Been Doing Lately"?

3. Contrast the version of "What I Have Been Doing Lately" that appeared in The Paris Review, with that which appears in At the Bottom of the River. How are they different? Do these differences change your first impressions and/or understanding of the work?

4. Discuss the similarities between the issues raised by Jamaica Kincaid and other contemporary Caribbean and/or African writers.

5. Research Carl Jung's idea of "individuation" and his understanding of alchemic processes, then reread "What I Have Been Doing Lately" to see what parallels can be drawn between the story and Jung's ideas about personality growth and development.