|Wallace, Jo-Ann “De-Scribing The Water-Babies:
‘The Child’ in Post-Colonial Theory,” in Chris Tiffin and Alan Lawson (eds.)
Empire: Post-colonialism and Textuality (London and New York: Routledge,
Wallace argues that whereas the child in The Water-Babies is the center of educational, social reform and imperialist debate, he is depoliticized in the 1984 abridged Puffin Classics edition and repoliticized in Jamaica Kincaid’s 1983 short story ‘Wingless’. The Puffin edition, mirroring post-colonialist guilt, “is paradigmatic of ‘the West’s’ continuing and contradictory investment in a vision of childhood as a universal unmarked by class, place, or history”. However, ‘Wingless’, “disallows such a disavowal of historical and geographical specificity by returning both the text of The Water-Babies and the child reader to colonialist history” (182).