Giving voice to the Alter-/Native: A Critique of Edward Brat

Giving voice to the Alter-/Native: A Critique of Edward Brathwaite's The Ancestors
Even though Edward Brathwaite's poem The Ancestors, as its title suggests seems to be about our ancestry and the reclamation of it, the overall structure of the poem itself reveals insights into the struggles of the poet and delves into issues of identity.Central to the issue of identity is the question of language and how it gives voice to the "other".Language, in this poem, also represents one of the ways in which Brathwaite attempts to give voice to the fragmented and scattered people of the New World.
The poem is divided into three main sections, with thefirst two sections seemingly structured within a narrative framework.Both sections are divided into two stanzas that provide us with the bulk of information about the persona's ancestors as represented by his grandfather in Section one and his grandmother in the second section.
In section one, the persona openly acknowledges and accepts his relationship to his grandfather, who symbolically represents the Eurocentric, colonial "English" gentleman, by the use of the personal pronoun "my" in reference to him.This image of the persona's grandfather as a "black English country gentleman" is contrasted with that of the grandmother who is not acknowledged and instead referred to as "his wife".This reference removes all personal attachment from the persona and places it firmly on that of the grandfather.The image of the grandmother who "would polish every night " the grandfather's shoes has stark undertones of slavery and is indicative of the English/Folk relationship of domination and servitude, with the wife being representative of the Black/Folk ethos.On another level, this relationship could also be Brathwaite's way of commenting on the gender roles that existed during and after the post-coloni…