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fanonstudentpaper - PH 110A Tracy Stark Cultural Identity...

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PH 110A Tracy Stark Cultural Identity in School Days In School Days by Patrick Chamoiseau, the “little boy” narrator, placed into a French colonial school system, must acknowledge and mentally deconstruct the strong divide that separates his language and culture from his colonizers’. The little boy symbolically represents Chamoiseau’s own boyhood life in Martinique. Through specific concepts articulated in Black Skin White Masks by Frantz Fanon, the racial and colonial issues within School Days can be read with a dehumanizing and oppressive lens. Fanon lived as “an important black voice against colonialism” (Fanon, “Fact” 134). Fanon questions, “In a Eurocentric world full of racism, self-loathing is not uncommon; but how does this self-destructive identity form?” (134) By examining School Days through Black Skin White Masks , as well as “The Fact of Blackness,” also by Fanon, the negative effects of colonialization on cultural identity expose themselves, as the little boy enters the colonial school and proceeds to be educated by it. Although Chamoiseau’s successful life exemplifies the possibility of emerging from colonization with knowledge and power, his novel, School Days , when read through the lens of Fanon’s concepts, illustrates the destructiveness of colonialism on Creole culture. The teachers in the colonial school system forbade the little boy to speak his Creole language; according to Fanon, the loss of native language initiates the imprisonment of the human soul (17). The little boy’s desire for an education begins
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“with the longing to go to the mysterious school which daily took away his big brothers and sisters” (Hal 1). His mother finally answers his eagerness by sending him off to his first day of school: The first day with the ‘Master,’ his first real teacher, marked the beginning of a “long struggle with the central alienation of colonial society” as he forbids the students to speak Creole (1). Fanon declares that an absolute “importance to the phenomenon of language” must be addressed (17). The weight of Caribbean culture rests on the little boy’s generation; the colonized must survive their colonizers’ education or assimilation will mark the end of their culture. Fanon asserts that “[t]o speak means to be in a position to use a certain syntax, to grasp the morphology of this or that language[…] [and]above all to assume a culture, to support the weight of a civilization” (17-18). The little boy, denied the language of his ancestors, finds school to be a prison rather than a base to learn and grow. Language functions as a vital piece of Caribbean culture, which the colonial
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fanonstudentpaper - PH 110A Tracy Stark Cultural Identity...

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