12/01 Native Guard Response

December 1st, 2010

“You can get there from here, though/ there’s no going home./ Everywhere you go will be somewhere/ you’ve never been. Try this:/ head South on Mississippi 49…”

I chose this excerpt because I found it to be good example of  a constant theme for both Kincaid and Trethewey: that of denying where home is, and then contradicting themselves deliberately. Here we see that Trethewey feels that there is no getting home, there’s just “here” and “there”, and yet the first location she uses as an example is Mississippi, where she was born. If there is no such thing as “home”, she could have very easily said “Ohio”, or some distant-sounding place like Tulsa, Oklahoma. Instead she chose Mississippi, indicating that her parting point could be none other than her origin, and isn’t that “home”?

Kincaid goes through the same denying process by referring to Antigua as a small place, and Antiguans as “they”. Yet to emphasize the consequences of colonization her main focus is Antigua, not a cluster of small Caribbean Islands, or whole continents (i.e. South America). She is telling us directly that her sole concern is Antigua, and indirectly that Antigua matters to her. I would attribute this interest to the fact that she is Antiguan, and that Antigua is her home.

They both use place as a way of reflecting their attitudes toward their origins and also to exemplify how distance, actual or temporal, transformed their identities. It’s true, there’s always a “here” and ‘there” and a long walk in between, these authors thrive on this to give us useful information about themselves, where they come from as opposed to where they are. Inevitably, they become home-denying as their identities morph under the influence of other places, nonetheless, their books reflect that they are ultimately home-bound.