No Telephone to Heaven: Post-Colonial Writing, the Pursuit of Freedom and Colonialism's Genocidal Impulse Luís Madureira UW-Madison Tous les cieux se . No telephone to heaven by Michelle Cliff, March 1, , Plume edition, in English. Teaching Michelle Cliff's No Telephone to Heaven in a. Postcolonial Context. Alison Van Nyhuis. Radical Teacher, Number 93, Spring , pp. (Article) .
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No Telephone to Heaven Paperback – March 1, A brilliant Jamaican-American writer takes on the themes of colonialism, race, myth, and political awakening through the experiences of a light-skinned woman named Clare Savage. Michelle Cliff was born in Jamaica and is the author. Get this from a library! No telephone to heaven. [Michelle Cliff]. “I am in awe of Michelle Cliff’s achievement. A powerful book, truly a stupendous achievement: the complex sense of Jamaica with its anguish and its beauty. In her generation, Cliff is rare and is already distinguished as a writer of great substance and power.”.
As she rides up the mountain, she reflects on her life to this point and how she became a revolutionary in the cause of Jamaican black rights.
Clare's narrative is paralleled by the story of a black man named Christopher who grow up poor in the slums of Kingston. His near-psychotic rage and frustration drove him to kill the upper-middle class family for whom he worked. Narration eventually reveals that although he remained at large and never faced legal consequences for his crimes, his mental state deteriorated, to the point that he becomes a familiarly, safely insane figure on Kingston's streets.
For her part, Clare's story begins with her parents, Boy and Kitty, and their decision to leave Jamaica for what they believe will be a better life in America a decision triggered in part by Christopher's killings.
The lighter skinned Boy is determined to put behind the inhibiting, violent racism he encountered in Jamaica, but when he discovers that similar racism is also prevalent in America, he does everything he can to make his family as white as possible. Kitty, however, feeling abandoned in her blackness, subversively tries to both maintain and defend it. She eventually leaves her husband and one daughter Clare to what she thinks is the white-defined life they want.
Clare, however, discovers that she doesn't want to abandon her racial identity in the way her father has taught her, and so leaves for a journey of self-discovery and affirmation.
Clare's journey takes her first to England, where she loses herself in the study of ancient cultures and becomes friends with a fellow academic who, to Clare's disappointment, eventually reveals herself to be as racist as so many of the other people she has encountered.
She abandons her studies and travels through Europe in the company of an expatriate American soldier who was wounded in Vietnam. She becomes pregnant with his child, but miscarries. Shortly afterward, the soldier abandons her and she finally returns to Jamaica.
There she re-encounters an old friend, once known as Harry but now known as Harriet after a self-castration. Harriet introduces her to the world and the battles of a group of Jamaican revolutionaries, leading Clare to realize this is an opportunity to follow through on the altruistic ideals of both her mother and grandmother.
The stories of Clare and Christopher intersect again late in the novel when Christopher now known simply as The Watchman is hired to portray a "wild native" in a film about blacks being produced and shot by whites in Jamaica. The lives of both Clare and Christopher, as well as those of the other revolutionaries, are ended when the police, apparently alerted by a traitor to the revolutionary cause, strafe the trees and bushes around the setting for the shoot with gunfire.
In this sense, teaching No Telephone to Heaven and other Caribbean novels in English classrooms and programs encourages students to reconsider their ideological location s within the discipline of English and also to cross and remap the boundaries of various literary traditions.
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LOG IN. Radical Teacher. In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content: Agency and Resistance in Africana Women's Narratives. One chapter, titled "The Memories of Old Women: Alternative History in Michelle Cliff's No Telephone to Heaven and Free Enterprise ," deals with Clare Savage as a crossroads character, as well as exploring Jamaicans as "a fragmented people," and Michelle Cliff's utilization of history.
Claiming History. Again, Nada Elia's book mentioned in note 5 explores this idea quite intriguingly. Also, a sort of introduction to the idea is explored on the Literary Style vs Historical Accuracy theme page of this website.
Cliff and the Book. It includes a biography and discussions about all her books-it's like this page, but with different information.
It is also very good. It includes similar, but, again, different information. It is also the link on the picture of her without sunglasses. A brief Michelle Cliff biography, essays about the book, links about the book and author. It's under construction, but promising to be great. Caribbean Information. A who's who of Caribbean writers and artists.
It categorizes them by profession, name, and Island they are from. It is not terribly scholarly, but it is very inclusive: The effects of colonialism are still present in Jamaica, and the information here is quite relevant to the struggle common to de-colonized countries. Here you can get history of places, information about authors, Caribbean literature chronology, etc. It is a good site for finding an overview of the types of research and arguments there are on a subject-and this is true not only for Caribbean literature, but just about anything.
You'll have to do a search for aribbean authors or something, but it will give you lots of links in return. Some Possible Begining Discussion Questions. A connection is drawn between Christopher, who murders Paul's family, and Jesus Christ in the book. What is their connection? How are they different?
Also, how is Christopher like and different from Clare? Near the end of the book, Clare is asked repeatedly, "To whom do you owe your allegiance? Presently, in the United States, social divisions are much more subtle and unstated than in the Jamaica presented in the book. How has your class affected your upbringing? Your view of the world? What kind of things do you believe in? What does the American and British film crew at the end of the book represent?
They are making a documentary. What does that imply?
What other ideas come to your mind because of this? Also, the website Chapter 12 Michelle Cliff gives information about Michelle Cliff and links to other sites, as well as has a comprehension quiz and essay questions. It's mostly for art teachers, and also has a brief history of Jamaica that is longer than most the other histories of Jamaica on the web. And, always be sure to check out Vicki's teaching page.
Cliff, Michelle. New York: Plume, , O'Driscoll, Sally.
James, C. The Black Jacobins. Vintage Books, , Elia, Nada.
Trances, Dances, and Vociferations: Garland Publishing, , Bloom, Harold, ed. Caribbean Women Writers. Chelsea House Publishers, , Barkan, Elazar, ed. Borders, Exiles, Diasporas.
Stanford University Press, , Levy, Michael B. Political Thought in America: An Anthology. Waveland Press, Inc. Page Created by: Mickey D'Loughy. Last Updated: