(In)forming the female bildungsroman in Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea and Jamaica Kincaid's Annie John Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/t148fn10t

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  • Caribbean women authors, in an attempt to reclaim their voices lost to patriarchy and colonialism, are creating a new literary tradition by expanding the boundaries of the Bildungsroman genre. Many have challenged the conservative male Bildungsroman's deeply entrenched gender bias where female transcendence was impossible due to cultural prescriptions that mandated women's passivity and selflessness. As a revision of this narrow tradition, many Caribbean women authors have radically transformed the quest through female protagonists attempting to define themselves, not through isolation and autonomy as with their male counterparts, but through female-centered spaces in which they can (temporarily) escape the ramifications of colonial hegemony. Jean Rhys in Wide Sargasso Sea and Jamaica Kincaid in Annie John confront the complex relationships between gender, genre, and race, as they help to inform an emerging female Bildungsrornan tradition. Through their use of biological mothers, other-mothers, female friends, and motherlands, Rhys and Kincaid investigate their protagonists' shifting locational identities within the racially torn, poverty-stricken islands. By revising the genre to include female protagonists and complex issues of race, Rhys and Kincaid, as well as many other Caribbean women authors, give voice to the marginalized female Other of the West Indies.
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