The author of the story No Telephone to Heaven, Michelle Cliff, retells a story of a Jamaican girl, Clara Savage, who is searching for her identity. The author is a Jamaican-American writer and this tension and inconstancy between two cultures ”“ the American and the Jamaican one is very close to her. Clare, the main character, has a darker-skinned mother and a light-skinned father. She leaves her native place and settles in the States. Â However, she feels a stranger in this country.
She is torn between two different countries while searching for her identity. Clara continuously struggles for her national identity and sense of belonging. She tries to find out what identity can be: her language, traditions, family or individual history, race or her sex. However, the answer is very simple: the notion of identity includes all these components and that is the reason why Clara’s way of self-development and self-identification is so long and difficult.
In No Telephone to Heaven, Clare is torn by her inner conflict: she is not able to identify which country she belongs to. She searches for her identity in England, however, not finding it there, makes a decision to come back to Jamaica. There she realizes that her own identity is the part of Jamaican identity.
The main character’s inner conflict is conditioned not only by the fact that her parents have different color of skin but also by the different social classes they belong to. For Clara’s father, being a light-skinned person, it was much easier to adopt in the USA and enjoy life there, while Clara’s mother was out of place there and she returned with Clara’s darker-skinned sister back to Jamaica.
Getting at the higher level of the development, Clara realizes that is not torn by two cultures, on the contrary, she assimilates both cultures and acknowledges her black and white roots. She chooses to return to Jamaica but it does not mean that she rejects her “white”ť part of identity. She is identified with Jamaica and finds her real destination in serving her country. She starts working at a local school and learning Jamaican illiterate children.
There can be even created a parallel between Clara and Jamaica. Clara does not have children, she is infertile in the book. Jamaica as a country is similar to the personality of the main character. Jamaica has been influenced by so many nationalities and cultures that, in fact, it does not have any concrete identity and so cannot transfer self-identification to its children. “Jamaica can no longer function for Clare as womb space, secure home, or nurturing mother. She sees that the histories of slavery and colonialism and the present realities of imperialist industrial capitalism are all connected and that they disrupt the narrative of Jamaica as idyllic Eden”ť (O’Driscoll, 59). Stiff delivers a message how a national struggle can become a struggle for identity. Clara realizes her connection with her physical motherland and devotes all her efforts to become useful in her native country. She chooses to learn little children real history of her country that lives in language, customs and traditions and that is not truly depicted in the European books. Real history in Clara’s interpretation is ” a matter of recognition”¦memory”¦emotion” (Cliff, 217). Clara has at last found her real identity that is one whole with the identity of her country.