Sunday, 12 February 2012

"Blackout" by Roger Mais

 'Blackout' is a short story by Roger Mais. It is set in Jamaica and is about racism and the contrast of two different races, sexes and cultures! 

The story starts off explaining the blackout in the city and the general atmosphere of uncomfortable and tense over the city. At this point the story builds an expectation of some sort of conflict. An American women was waiting at a bus stop. Suprisingly she was not bothered by the darkness, and she was not nervous. 

A black man slowly approaches her and asks for a light for his cigarette. As she does not have matches she offers her cigarette and as he thanks her she flicks the cigarette away. She does that because she is disgusted that a Black man touched her cigarette and therefore she doesn't want to smoke it anymore. After the flicking, there's a moment of discomfort and she asks him why he was still there. He replies with an apology as a comment on her action. He stays and keeps talking about her apparent wealth and as he talks she becomes more uncomfortable. The conversation between the two then focuses on gender and race. At that moment the reader can sense that actually the woman is interested in the current situation and she might actually be looking for an adventure, but he tells her that she is not his type of women which undermines her. During the conversation the reader can also see that the woman has some very racist thoughts. 

After a while he sees the bus coming and points at it. She gets on the bus and as it starts moving, she urges herself to look back at him and challenge her prejudices, but thinking of the society and worrying about how unacceptable it would seem she can't succeed and doesn't look back while the man picks up the cigarette from the gutter. 

During this short story there is always this feeling of menace and some kind of threat which is created by the blackout and the odd conversation between the two. This feeling is created especially at the beggining, introduction of the story when the blackout and the loneliness were being described by Mais. He used words and phrases such as; wave of panic, bands of hooligans roaming the streets after dark and assaulting unprotected women, slinking black shadow, to reinforce his point.


  1. This was a fantasic essay.

  2. excellent I now understand the story thanks alot

  3. Excellent. What a fantastic essay. It made me understand the story in a musch more simplier way...
    Thanks alot

  4. thanks alot .i now have a better understanding on the story

  5. As i set out for my exams in 2015 i have started using this site an it has been helping alot.. Thank you very much, i can now have a better understanding of short stories an also poems :)

    1. yep its always helping

  6. This helped a lot! Thanks! :)

  7. Awesome Essay keep it up

  8. thank you a lot. Now i can understand the essay.