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In Cliff’s novel, Clare Savage and her father, Boy, spend an afternoon wandering through the decaying remnants of a former slave plantation that once belonged to their white ancestors. While the physical structure of the great house remains, only “faint gullies” mark the presence of the slaves. Cues such as the quaint images of the Victorian families on the wallpaper and the modern family on the poster announcing the imminent arrival of condominiums enable Clare to read the images as the figured presence of the great house’s former owners. Yet, Clare is most haunted by the absent presence of the slaves, and the novel itself spends much time imagining what their lives would have been like. Although the “faint gullies” can certainly be read as absence, they also powerfully suggest presence in that the gullies are not literally “empty”—they can also be read as the only surviving fragments from the slave houses, the banked dirt foundations.1 These “faint gullies,” the ephemeral and fragmentary traces of Jamaican slaves, are not easily deciphered and consequently require a different, more imaginative manner of reading.
KeywordsAfrican Slave Middle Passage Female Slave Black Slave Colonial Archive
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