John Thieme


Superficially the bulk of the stories in Olive Senior's Summer Lightning (1986) are primarily naturalistic accounts of a particular experience of growing up in rural Jamaica in the 1940's and 1950's. The stories repeatedly construct a situation in which a child-protagonist, usually a girl, has been displaced from the peasant home of her early youth and relocated in a middle-class household. Senior has said that this situation replicates the experience of her own youth,1 which involved a similar movement between houses and made her socially, as well as racially, 'a child of mixed worlds, socialized unwittingly and simultaneously into both'/ and the reader who knows this, even if s/he is anxious to avoid seeing the text simply as a fictionalized transcription of aspects of the author's own experience, may well be tempted to assume that its range is narrowly circumscribed by the particular nature of this situation represented.



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