Small Island

Small Island


Andrea Levy

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Small Island: Chapter 48: Bernard Summary & Analysis

Bernard dreams that he’s lying in bed with Queenie when he hears a Japanese fighter plane flying over the house. He knows the pilot is coming for him, so he’s not surprised when his door opens, but Bernard lies in bed, paralyzed with fear. He sees a Japanese man enter, but instead of killing him, the pilot smiles. Bernard doesn’t know whether he should shoot the man or trust his smile. Suddenly, Queenie sits up in bed. When she sees the Japanese man, she says hello and welcomes him inside as if she’s always known him. Bernard wakes up.
In his dream, Bernard vacillates between hostility and acceptance of the unknown, symbolized here by the Japanese pilot but in real life represented by immigrants like the Josephs. It’s important that his hostility is clearly rooted in fear (he worries that the pilot is an enemy) rather than hatred, which suggests that he could potentially overcome it. Interestingly, while Bernard opposes his wife’s actions in real life, in the dream he sees her as brave and admirable.
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