71 pages 2 hours read

Zadie Smith

The Fraud

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2023

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Symbols & Motifs


Content Warning: This section of the guide discusses enslavement.

In this novel, the only authentic depiction of Jamaica is told through Andrew Bogle’s point-of-view, as he was born and raised there. However, Jamaica has a symbolic hold over all the characters in the novel. English people who live far away from Jamaica romanticize the island for its natural beauty, ignoring its dangerous weather and the plantations built upon the enslaved labor of unhappy Black people. Jamaica has both a magical and sinister representation in the English mind. In this way, the average English person’s perspective of Jamaica is a subconscious byproduct of the guilt of colonialism. In an effort to make a distant colony in their own image, the English have actually achieved the opposite: creating Jamaica as the setting of the Other.


Writing is an important motif in this novel because it reflects the thematic preoccupation with The Complexities of Authenticity and Narrative. Writing can be overwrought and disingenuous—as it is in William’s works—but it can also illuminate the human experience. Charles Dickens achieves fame and respect because his English readers see their real lives reflected back at them, creating a meaningful and deep connection.