Jamaica Kincaid’s In the Night
Jamaica Kincaid’s short story
In the Night maps out a continuous present while encircling the night by adding, adding and repeating with a difference. It’s a fantasmatic night yet perfectly real; it’s a night of sounds, flowers, dreams and fantasies, haunted by night-soil men and jablesses - some real, some not.
The sounds are for real - they alert you to listen, to enter the picture drawn before your eye - they encircle the night while anchoring the text in a continuous present by repeating “there is ... there is ... there is ...”
There is the sound of a cricket, there is the sound of a church bell, there is the sound of this house creaking ... There is the sound of a radio in the distance ... There is the sound of a man groaning ... There is the sound of the man stabbing the woman ... There is the sound of her spirit [and so on…](7)
The sounds undercut language. The repetition undercuts linearity. The rhythm of the night grows forth in the mind’s eye, like a bouquet of flowers that has come alive -
In the night, the flowers close up and thicken. The hibiscus flowers, the flamboyant flowers, the bachelor’s buttons, the irises, the marigolds, the whiteheadbush flowers, the lilies, the flowers on the daggerbush, the flowers on the turtleberry bush, the flowers on the soursop tree… The flowers are vexed. (10-11)
Sight gives way to the cinema of the imagination. Reality turns real. Rhythms of the invisible. Roots sophisticated.