Having trouble reading this email? View it in your browser.

Wesleyan University | Center for the Humanities



"I Wished I Had A Scythe"; or, Questions of Inheritance, Relation, and Haunting in Jamaica Kincaid's Lucy

Ren Ellis Neyra • Wesleyan University

February 7th @ 6 P.M. via Zoom: https://wesleyan.zoom.us/j/98168770558  

In Jamaica Kincaid’s novel Lucy (1990), the white, midwestern American character Mariah wills that the black, Anglo-Caribbean character Lucy, who works, for a time, as a domestic, would “echo” the way she feels about her favorite flower, daffodils (Narcissus). Lucy does not: when she looks at the flowers, before knowing they are the “daffodils” of Wordsworth’s poem that she has tried to erase from her memory, she thinks, “I wished I had a scythe.” A “crisis of relation” ensues, which this paper reads via Paul de Man, Jacques Derrida, and Gayatri Spivak. It considers the differences between and within the signifiers “inheritance,” “relation,” and “haunting,” and how such may be read in Lucy, and in Édouard Glissant’s later thought. How does Lucy represent the “inheritance” of colonial violence, Romanticism, Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea, and John Milton’s Paradise Lost? How does Lucy wish to treat said “inheritance” (which, it will be argued, is a haunting), and how are we to read her wish to kill Narcissus?

Islands as Metaphor and Method
View Spring 2022 Lecture List

Center for the Humanities · 95 Pearl Street, Middletown, CT 06459

Center for the Humanities on Facebook  Center for the Humanities on Twitter

Wesleyan Logo