Colin Grant: The son of a difficult father | Summary and Q&A

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Colin Grant: The son of a difficult father


This content explores the complicated relationship between the narrator and his father, highlighting themes of fear, immigration, and acceptance.

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Key Insights

  • 💔 The speaker shares a childhood desire to harm his abusive father, highlighting the fear and tension within their household.
  • 🤐 The speaker explains how their father demanded silence at home, creating a climate of fear and secrecy among the family members.
  • 💼 The father and his Jamaican friends presented an image of themselves in order to combat stereotypes and racism in their new country.
  • 👔 The speaker discusses the pressure to uphold a positive image and avoid confirming negative stereotypes as a person of color in society.
  • 🤝 The speaker reflects on the lack of communication and emotional distance between his father and himself for three decades.
  • 🚘 The father engaged in illegal activities to fund the speaker's education, demonstrating the sacrifices he made as an immigrant to afford his child's opportunities.
  • 👮 The speaker's father had a complicated relationship with authority, alternating between mocking and deferring to it.
  • 🗣️ The speaker recognizes the power of storytelling and memoirs in bridging the gap between generations and initiating conversations.


This is a photograph of a man whom for many years I plotted to kill. This is my father, Clinton George "Bageye" Grant. He's called Bageye because he has permanent bags under his eyes. As a 10-year-old, along with my siblings, I dreamt of scraping off the poison from fly-killer paper into his coffee, grounded down glass and sprinkling it over his br... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: What was the relationship like between the speaker and their father during their childhood?

The speaker describes their father as a terrifying ogre, who demanded total silence in the house and instilled a fear of drawing attention to themselves. They had no communication for three decades and never laid eyes on their father during that time.

Q: How did Bageye and his friends project themselves in their new country?

Bageye and his Jamaican friends exhibited a kind of Jamaican bella figura, where they projected themselves in a way they wanted to be perceived. They invented traditions like wearing trilbies to defy stereotypes and show their best side to the world.

Q: What were the expectations placed on the speaker as a child of Jamaican immigrants?

The speaker explains that as a child, they were constantly aware of being watched and judged based on whether they conformed to the host nation's stereotype of Jamaican immigrants. There was a pressure to defy these expectations and confound stereotypes.

Q: How did the speaker's parents view education and their role in their child's education?

The speaker's parents did not trust the state to educate them and therefore took education into their own hands. While the father wished for a better education for the speaker, he resorted to trading illicit goods to fund their private school education.

Q: How did the speaker's relationship with their father change after their book was published?

The speaker's book, which explored their relationship with their father, caused a rift between them. Their father felt betrayed by the public airing of his shortcomings and demanded a right of reply in the newspapers, leading to a return of silence between them.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • The speaker had a strong desire to kill his father when he was young, but his father managed to avoid any harm.

  • The speaker's father was a terrifying and strict figure, who demanded silence and obedience from his children.

  • The speaker's parents were Jamaican immigrants in England who faced stereotypes and pressures to conform, but they instilled a sense of pride and style in their children.

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