Developing Identities: Jamaica Kincaid Evaluates the Challenges of Identification in a Postcolonial World in her Novel 'The Autobiography of My Mother'

Ms. Elizabeth Corson
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Analyzing the novel, The Autobiography of my Mother, by Jamaica Kincaid, uncovers how Kincaid's narrative reflects the challenges developing identity in a post colonial society. Those challenges are most strongly represented through the relationships encountered in the institutions of family, church and school, as they are the primary sites for moral and intellectual development in most cultures.

Prior to text analysis, there is a brief introduction about Colonialism and its effects on the social structure (oppressor vs. oppressed, us vs. them) and how that social structure created the Post-Colonial challenge.

A plot summary allows those unfamiliar with the novel to get an understanding of the points to be evaluated and analyzed. The main themes covered are the relationships between mother-daughter, father-daughter, student-teacher and husband-wife, and the weight of those relationships in the process of self-identification. Also evaluated are the elements of choice and validation in the recording of history and memory.

Keywords: Postcolonial Identity, Developing Identity, Colonialism, effects of, Jamaica Kincaid
Stream: Ethnicity, Difference, Identity, Immigration, Refugees, Race, Nation, Sexuality, Gender, Families
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Developing Identities

Ms. Elizabeth Corson

Graduate Student, Graduate English Department: Multicultural Literature Program, East Carolina University

Elizabeth Corson graduated from East Carolina University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and a Minor in Theatre and Dance in May 2002. Upon graduating, she participated in the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program to teach English in public high schools in Japan. After one year, she moved back to the United States and realized her life in academia was not complete. During the summer of 2004, she began her graduate studies with a Summer Study Abroad program co-sponsored by East Carolina University and the University of Belize. Ms Corson is currently pursuing a Master of Arts Degree in Multicultural Literature at East Carolina University, focusing her research on finding identity in narratives and the world.

Ref: H05P0350