‘At Last’ by Jamaica Kincaid

Kincaid, Jamaica 1979a

At Last by Jamaica Kincaid, 1979

The magic trick:

Breaking the story into two sections and uniting them with dark thoughts and disturbing imagery

This is a haunting speech by an old woman pondering the passage of time and the oh-so-happy idea that we barely make a mark at all during our brief and futile existence. Interestingly, the story, though very short, is split into two sections – The House and The Yard. They are united by the repeated mention of dead things or things rotting, along with the woman’s tendency to let animals and other living things only remind her of her own constrictions. It’s deep, depressing stuff. And that’s quite a trick on Kincaid’s part.

The selection:

(But at last, at last, to whom will this view belong? Will the hen, stripped of its flesh, its feathers scattered perhaps to the four corners of the earth, its bones molten and sterilized, one day speak? And what will it say? I was a hen? I had twelve chicks? One of my chicks, named Beryl, took a fall?)

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