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Black IntersectionalitiesA Critique for the 21st Century$
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Monica Michlin and Jean-Paul Rocchi

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781846319389

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781846319389.001.0001

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“Weh eye nuh see heart nuh leap”: Claude McKay’s Literary Drag Performance in Banana Bottom

“Weh eye nuh see heart nuh leap”: Claude McKay’s Literary Drag Performance in Banana Bottom

(p.98) 7 “Weh eye nuh see heart nuh leap”: Claude McKay’s Literary Drag Performance in Banana Bottom
Black Intersectionalities

Jarrett H. Brown

Liverpool University Press

This essay examines the persuasive fit between the biographical evidence of Claude McKay’s life, his characterization of Bita Plant as a maroon figure returning to “the point of entanglement” (Glissant, Caribbean Discourse 26), and the continuum of masculine subjectivity in McKay’s work, from Jake/ Ray to Banjo/Ray to Bita. The author posits the idea of Bita as McKay’s maroon self returned in drag on two bases: one, that the life of a vagabond troubadour, and the habit of literary self-portrait had so become second nature to McKay, that he was unable to inhabit a less ambiguous, less tricksterish persona; two, that McKay’s unresolved issues with his mother and father play out as impersonation or ventriloquism, reconciliation, exorcism, and homage in the figure of Bita. The essay argues also that McKay’s lifelong and haunting need to return to the country of his birth played out in this literary disguise in which, if we also see Bita as Jamaica developing a decolonized subjectivity, her move is from (feminized) colonial territory to an authoritative republic of the self.

Keywords:   Banana Bottom, Caribbean, Creolization, decolonization, drag (in), Jamaica, marronage, masculinity, McKay, Claude, subjectivity

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