A Leg of Mutton Essay

Antigua became independent from England in 1981, but before that, every aspect of Jamaica Kincaid’s life was affected by England. The way she ate, what she studied, what she wore, how her family acted all were influenced by the historical incident during this time period… she absolutely hated it. To display her negative feelings of defeat and betrayal she used rhetorical strategy in her essay, such as intense figurative language, sarcastic syntax, and development of persona of her own parents.

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For example, Kincaid refers to the shape of England as a leg of mutton which is nasty, old, smelly lamb (showing her dislike towards England) Although she compares it to a jewel, she concludes that only Englanders deserve to wear it, as if Antiguans are not worthy. She feels as though her own people do not belong in this culture, “They [Englanders] wore it well and they wore it everywhere.” Repetitively, Kincaid says “Made in England” so much, that it is as if every object she encounters comes from this country. The reader can sense that seeing this enrages her with frustration.

Throughout the essay, “On Seeing England for the First Time,” Kincaid uses sarcastic syntax. Referring to the jewel again, Kinkaid writes, “England was a very special jewel ALRIGHT only special people wear it.” The use of sarcasm reveals a feeling of hatred. This tone continues throughout the entire essay although she never directly tells her negativity of England, her syntax shows it perfectly. Kinkaid adds, “I did not know much – CERTAINLY not a blessing.” The subtle addition of words like “certainly” and “alright” express her attitude of defeat. She feels like her home of Antigua has been conquered and taken over by England, and dreads the feeling of not having independence, not just for her country but also for herself.

One last important rhetorical strategy Kincaid uses is the development of persona of her own parents. Her own family, the people closest to her even represent the country she despises so dearly. Although the father lives in a blistering hot and humid climate, he chooses to wear an England styled hat just because he admires the origination of the article of men’s clothing. The mother makes Jamaica Kincaid use proper utensils when eating because it is the English way, but she rather not and eat with her hands traditionally. Even her breakfast is done in the English way, big and heavy, making her feel slow and lazy.

Kincaid owns and precisely displays her opinion perfectly, without even ever having to say it directly to the reader. She uses descriptive and meaningful words to express an angry tone. Through the use of figurative language, negative syntax, and development of persona of her family (the peoples supposedly closest to her), a deep and clear message of defeat and attitude of betrayal by England is conveyed… this is why England is just so difficult for her to draw.

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