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Banana Bottom

bita

a novel by C. McKay, published in 1933. Set in Jamaica, its theme is cultural dualism, the clash between European and indigenous black values. The central character is Bita Plant, from the village of Banana Bottom, who is raped at the age of 12 by an idiot youth. The Craigs, a white missionary couple, adopt Bita as their protégée and send her to be educated in England. After years abroad, Bita returns to the island as a piano-playing paragon to assist her benefactors. However, she becomes restless at the Mission. Falling under the spell of an unlearned dandy named Hopping Dick, she rebels against the Calvinist domination of her guardians. An attempt to arrange a respectable marriage between Bita and a young divinity student is brought to an abrupt halt when the prospective bridegroom is caught in an act of bestiality. Rediscovering Banana Bottom, Bita is at home among its unaffected pleasures and personalities, which her sophisticated education should have taught her to dismiss as vulgar amusements and bad company. One link with the cultivated life is in her friendship with Squire Gensir, an elderly Englishman who lives simply among the villagers, collecting and celebrating their folk culture. Eventually marrying Jubban, a stalwart peasant, she finds no contradiction in linking her destiny with his: ‘Her music, her reading, her thinking were the flowers of her intelligence and he the root in the earth upon which she was grafted, both nourished by the same soil.’

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