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‘Jamaican Fragment’ is written by A.L Hendricks. Arthur Lemière Hendricks (Known as Micky Hendricks in his broadcasting career) was a Jamaican poet, writer, and broadcasting director who lived from 1922 until 1992. He was born to a Jamaican father and a French mother in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1922.
The ‘Jamaican Fragment’ is a narrative about a man who experiences an oddity (irregular situation) on his way to and from work, that he perceives as an act of social inferiority. ‘Jamaican Fragment’ is based on the author’s personal experiences rather than a fictional occurrence. The fragment is written in such a way that it piques the reader’s interest. Hendricks incorporates irony while also imparting a moral message to the reader.
The writer begins by describing the surroundings, bungalow, and doors in the opening paragraph. To depict the scene, the author uses imagery. Every morning and evening, the narrator would walk half a mile from his home to the train track. Because of the red and green-roofed houses, green lawns, and gardens on each side, he enjoys the stroll, which also proves to be good exercise.
The Little Boys, Stereotypes and more…
One morning, the narrator spotted two little boys playing in the garden. One of them was black, while the other was white. The author observed the little boys. The black child might be five years old, whereas the white boy could be four years old. Both of them were dressed in the same attire. The older of the two was a tall, dark, young fellow with coarse hair and coal-black eyes. He had a distinct Jamaican flavour about him. The youngest of the two was white-skinned, with light brown hair and hazel eyes. The white boy was seen yelling and commanding the black boy about. The black kid followed the white boy’s commands.
The narrator was also a black Jamaican man. Within himself, he felt puzzled. Dozens of questions ran through his head. The children were quite little, almost like babies. How could they discriminate at such a young age? Who were they, exactly? Was the black boy the child of a servant? Who was he, exactly? Were they neighbours or friends? Were we truly so inferior as a race that we recognised our shortcomings even as children and accepted a role as the white man’s servant? Hendricks was constantly troubled by these questions. His confidence in his people had shattered.
The boys were not around when he stopped by in the afternoon. As a result, he ended up spending the rest of the evening pondering about this. The next morning, Hendricks spotted them again and observed them. To his amazement, the dark boy was in charge this time, and the white kid was following the orders. The narrator then realised it was a game and reminisced how he used to play the same game, as a kid. Within himself, he grinned. Hendricks then noticed a white man standing by the gate. His thoughts went to the possibility that the white guy believes the black race is superior to the white race. He thought to himself, how ridiculous it is for adults to misinterpret a child’s behaviour.
The author anticipated the uncertainty that would result from such a sight. He considered resolving any doubts the white man could have. After hearing Hendrik’s ideas, the man was surprised. Hendricks reveals the truth to the white man standing by the gate, in the final paragraph. However, he learns that the white man is married to a Jamaican lady and the father of the two boys. We may conclude from this that the author makes stereotyped assumptions and is prejudiced. Although he had only good intentions, the idea of the boys being the children of multiracial parents did not occur to him.
We can agree that Hendricks entices the reader into self-reflection through this essay. He has touched upon prejudice. Prejudice refers to deeply held beliefs that aren’t built on rationality or experience. It is a sensitive topic in today’s culture. The chapter, ‘Jamaican Fragment’, written by Hendricks, explores prejudice with wit, innocence, and humour, making it a light read.