Miss Essay

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How do the openings of ‘Little Bee’ and ‘A room with a view’ engage the reader? The opening sentence of Chris Cleave’s Little Bee immediately throws the reader into the dark themes of poverty and contrasting cultures which the novel centre’s around. The first person narrative introduces the audience to these ideals through the personification of a ‘British pound coin’ which she would rather be ‘instead of an African girl’. Already Cleave has brought the comparison between Britain’s immense wealth and the generalised poverty of African nations as he is insinuating that the abundance of coins in the British economy is only relative to the vast African population. Furthermore, the metaphor of suggesting life and mere money are interchangeable from the perspective of an African native, which in turn presents the perceptions of African society – that life isn’t a freedom as believed in the West, but is a privilege that can be bought or sold. Considering the shameful history of slavery that haunts the shores of Western Africa (which is in fact the country origin for the heroine, Little Bee) it would be argued by psychoanalytical critics as no coincidence that such references were to be made as the fear inflicted on the native populace has provoked a sense of vulnerability in their homeland which is felt by citizens of Britain. In this way, it could be argued that the pound coin is instead a symbol of the ‘white’ life her ancestors associated with security and protection from such a horrific trade. This assumption is described by the narrator as she continues, ‘a pound coin can go wherever it thinks it will be safest’ implying, as suggested by psychoanalysts, that the heroine believes she doesn’t share such a choice as she is disadvantage by her heritage. Conversely it could also be gathered that Cleave is attempting to provide some contextual awareness as to the

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