Lit Help for CSEC

Hello friends!  CSEC is fast approaching and I kinda forgot that we had like 3 other books to read in addition to the ones we did this year.  As a result, the next few posts will be about these books, which will help everyone involved; I’ll get a chance to review them, and hopefully the content will help your revision.  if this attempt is successful, i may do books from lower grades to reach a wider audience. So anyway, let’s get into the post.

The first piece to be discussed will be “Shabine” from the anthology of short stories “A World Of Prose”

Shabine by Hazel Simmons-McDonald

Characters

  • The unnamed persona of the story, referred to only as He.  Was infatuated by the titular Shabine.
  • Justine, who is a young woman of mixed race, and seems to have a reputation of being a loose woman.  Is also a social outcast because of this.
  • Gold, one of Justine’s sons, is also of mixed race and is presumed half white.  His father is the white sailor the persona sees Justine’s mother ushering into their house.  He has thick, curly reddish hair like Justine’s.
  • Silver, Justine’s second son. Is also of mixed race, but has spiky, short blond hair.
  • Misié Cazaubon, employer of Justine’s mother, also Justine’s father from an illicit affair with her mother, a sore point with his wife, Madame Cazaubon.  Is relatively wealthy and white.
  • Madame Cazaubon, wife of Misié Cazaubon, is bitter about his affair with Justine’s mother and the fact that she and Justine are in her presence constantly to remind her of this.   Takes her anger out on Justine by treating her as a second class citizen and encouraging M. Cazubon not to send her to school.

 

Setting

The story is set in St Lucia, shortly after it gained its independence, so the old mentality of colonialism remains.

Point of View

The story is told from the third person perspective of an unnamed “he” who used to know Justine (the titular Shabine) when they were younger. He used to be infatuated with her, and it was possible that she had feelings for him. However, class and social stigmas prevented them from being together. This perspective is effective, because it allows us to see the events of the past from his perspective, enhancing their credibility. The point of view used also conveys a sense of nostalgia, in “his” memories of the relationship between himself and Shabine, enabling the reader to empathize with the persona.

Themes

One of the themes in the story is racism/ prejudice. Prejudice is a difference in the treatment of a person due to something which makes them different. Racism is prejudice based on skin colour or race. This can be seen in how Justine is ostracized because of her mixed heritage. Her looks set her apart from the other villagers, and make her a target for name calling, boys which pass her taunting her with the name “Shabine.” however, her exotic look makes her attractive to the persona. This situation illustrates the theme of racism, because Justine is treated differently and taunted because she looks different from everyone else.

Another theme in the story is love. Love is genuine, deep feeling of care for another person and can be between family members or lovers. Familial love was shown to Justine by her mother, who stood up for her, and did not allow madame Cazaubon to treat Justine as a servant. Unfortunately, as Justine gets older and matures, her mother essentially invites people, namely men to take advantage of her daughter. The first instance shows love because Justine’s mother was willing to speak up for her daughter, and sacrifice her comforts for her. As abusive as the second situation may have seemed, it may be construed as a twisted kind of motherly love in that Justine’s mother sees that Misie Cazaubon has no intention of sending Justine to convent school. Therefore, she feels that the only alternative for Justine’s future is for her to become a loose woman. By inviting strange men to take advantage of Justine, her mother is preparing her for what seems to be the final solution for her future.

Techniques

One of the techniques used is symbolism. Many names/ items have a double meaning, and are used to enhance the overall story. Some of the symbolic elements include the wall which separates Justin’s house from the persona’s house, and the paradise plums. The wall represents the social barriers imposed upon Justine by a society which refuses to embrace her differences. The paradise plums signify how Justine’s life could have been ‘sweeter’ if she had been allowed to associate with the persona, i.e. she would have had less hardships.

Another technique is irony. Irony is an unexpected outcome. In Shabine, it is ironic that the persona is angry/ upset that Justine and her children are being teased, yet he does nothing to stop it. It is also ironic that the very society which chastised Justine’s behavior and called her “jamette” comprised the very individuals who patronized such loose behavior.

©2016 Rajini Coore

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