Adapting vs. Rebellion - Caribbean Flair Meets Industrialized Society

The Psychological Development of Selina Davis in "Let Them Call It Jazz" by Jean Rhys

Term Paper, 2006

7 Pages, Grade: 1,5



1. Introduction

2. Character Analysis of Selina Davis
2.1 Main character traits
2.2 Selina’s behaviour in interaction with her environment

3. Adapting vs. rebellion: The psychological development of Selina Davis
3.1 Outline of the protagonist’s psychological development
3.1.1 Anticipations and prophecies
3.1.2 Prejudices as self-fulfilling prophecies
3.1.3 Weather, nature and the house as mirrors of the inner state
3.1.4 Other characters and their meaning
3.1.5 Adapting vs. rebellion
3.2 Title, ending and point of the story
3.3 General Discussion: Adapting vs. rebellion

4. Conclusion: Is Selina’s final solution convincing?


1 Introduction

It was in the aftermath of the Second World War when a bulk of Caribbean immigrants came to the UK. In 1948, a ship called “Empire Windrush” brought the first men to cover the need of industry workers. Later, their families followed. The immigrants’ hopes, however, were mostly destroyed by discrimination and prejudices.[1] That leads me to the question whether there is a way out of an aggressive clash of cultures due to immigration. Actually, both adapting and integration may be good solutions. But how much of one’s identity does one have to give up by adapting oneself to a completely different culture? At the same time, is it possible to adapt oneself and remain one’s old self? The story “Let them Call it Jazz” by Jean Rhys raises these questions. In brief, it is a story about a young Caribbean immigrant called Selina whose different cultural background makes it difficult for her to cope with the problems of her new environment. She is not able to find a job, looses her apartment, feels often misunderstood and finally ends up in jail.

By trying to understand the inner development of Selina the reader will get a notion of how difficult it is to find its own identity in a foreign country. This paper presents her psychological changes embedded in the context of her environment. First of all, the character of the protagonist of the story will be analyzed. In the third paragraph, an outline of her psychological development throughout the course of the story will be given. In this chapter, also the meaning of the title and the point of the story will be explained. Finally, the quest of a middle course between adapting and rebellion will be explored in a more general context.

In a final conclusion, I will try to give a satisfactory answer to several crucial questions of this paper. Is Selina’s way of coping with integration problems a right way? What can the reader learn from the end of the story? Is it a good end or a bad one, especially for Selina herself?

2 Character analysis of the protagonist

2.1 Main character traits

The protagonist of the story is a young female Caribbean immigrant called Selina Davis. She has a white father and a coloured mother. She didn’t get to know neither her father nor her mother properly. The former she has seen only once when being small and the latter went to Venezuela when Selina was three or four years old. The little girl grew up with her grandmother who saved the money Selina’s mother was sending her. This way, Selina was able to come to England. Thus, at the time the story is set, she lives in London. At the beginning of the story, she is jobless. Consequently, she has not much money left. Her talent is sewing and she intends to find a job in London.


[1] Barbara Korte und Claudia Sternberg. Many Voices – Many Cultures: Multicultural British Short Stories. Stuttgart, 1997, 17-18.

Excerpt out of 7 pages


Adapting vs. Rebellion - Caribbean Flair Meets Industrialized Society
The Psychological Development of Selina Davis in "Let Them Call It Jazz" by Jean Rhys
University of Heidelberg
Colonial and Post-Colonial Short Stories
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
File size
503 KB
Adapting, Rebellion, Caribbean, Flair, Meets, Industrialized, Society, Colonial, Post-Colonial, Short, Stories
Quote paper
Daria Eva Stanco (Author), 2006, Adapting vs. Rebellion - Caribbean Flair Meets Industrialized Society, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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