Everything is Not What it Swings


In the novel, Swing Time by Zadie Smith, the narrator walks us through the majority of her young life. She educates the audience on not only important figures in her life but also realizations she’s come to since getting older. We are shown both the good and the bad aspects of her life, the narrator makes the readers feel as if they know her or have even lived her life. Throughout the book the narrator keeps readers entertained while leaving us curiousfor me after each page.

As I mentioned earlier, the narrator comes to many realizations while telling her story. She sees that everything is not as it seems as a child and discovers there are “shadows” in everyone’s lives that aren’t commonly known or discussed. They are more likely to be kept hidden from the public eye, but when these demons are released, there is a price to pay.unnamed

In this novel, Smith brings special attention to the hidden personal issues of the characters as well as the innocence of the oblivious mind of a child. Throughout the course of this story the narrator comes to many conclusions about questionable things that she witnesses or happened to her personally. For example, the narrator shows her curiosity about her friend’s Father start to grow when she notices her behavior while she’s around her father, to the point she even senses a sexual tension between the two. In this moment the narrator begins to notice the hostile relationship Tracey has with her Father. This shows the audience since growing older and wiser the narrator starts to notice more of the “shadows” that were once hidden from her as a child. Another great example of this is the letter Tracey sends the narrator concerning her father. At one time in her life she may have believed Tracey’s lies but since growing distant from her and facing the reality of her once friends true-self, she sees right through her lies. In the novel the narrator states,

In her version she walked round the back of my father’s flat, stood in the small gravel courtyard, and then, because the kitchen seemed to be locked, took two steps to the left and brought her nose right up to the back window, to my father’s window, the one in which I slept, cupped her hands upon the glass and looked in. There she saw my father, naked, on top of something, moving up and down, and at first she naturally thought it was a woman, and if it had been a woman, or so she assured me, the she never would have mentioned it, it was none of her business or mine, but the fact was it was not a woman at all, it was a doll, human sized but inflated, and of very dark complexion like a- ‘golliwog’ (Smith 349-350).

This is just another way the writer shows the audience the growth, maturity and new point of view the narrator has gained and she is finally seeing the reality of her childhood and her life today.

As you can see, the shadows of Tracey’s life are brought to light as the narrator becomes wiser. As children we as humans trust most everyone and believe there is no evil in this world but as we grow older we are forced to face reality which brings us to the conclusion that everything is not always what it seems.




Smith, Zadie. Swing Time. 2016. Penguin 2017.

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