Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Mère et fils, homme et femme dans la littérature antillaise
by Campbell-Hewitt, Laurie, Ph.D., University of Louisiana at Lafayette, 2015, 219; 3712152
Abstract (Summary)

While most studies focus on the mother-daughter relationship in French Caribbean literature, the mother-son relationship has received much less academic interest. However, this relationship is no less important in understanding the dysfunctional relationship between man and woman shaped by cultural upheavals such as the uprooting from Africa, slavery, and more recently assimilation. In order to paint a more complete picture, this dissertation considers the feminine perspective as well as the masculine perspective. First, the works of Simone Schwarz-Bart and Gisele Pineau illustrate the installation of patriarchy in the French West Indies that accompanied cultural assimilation. Schwarz-Bart’s Pluie et vent sur Télumée Miracle demonstrates the transformative power of maternal love; the mother has the power to heal a society traumatized by its history of slavery. In La Grande Drive des esprits, Pineau depicts maternity within the confines of patriarchy. In a society that was once matrifocal, the acceptance of patriarchal values has harmed feminine solidarity and further separated man and woman. In Pineau’s work, suppressed maternal energy becomes a destructive force. Next, this dissertation considers the maternal figures in the autobiographies of Joseph Zobel and Raphael Confiant. Zobel’s autobiographical project, La Rue cases-nègres , aims to commemorate his grandmother M’man Tine and his mother Delia who propelled him to success. On an unconscious level, however, the author tries to resolve issues resulting from traumatic events in his childhood, such as the corporal punishment he suffered at the hands of his grandmother and the abandonment by his mother. The young Raphael is often met with maternal silence as he tries to comprehend his marginalized identity as a chabin in Ravines du devant-jour. Confiant’s La Panse du chacal sheds light on the experience of the Indian immigrants who came to the islands to replace the former slaves in the sugar cane fields. While maternal figures are central characters in his autobiography, Confiant questions maternal authority in this novel. He reconfigures the preeminence of the Caribbean grandmother as a colonial construction and challenges the certainty of maternity which originally led to the matrilineal descent system.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Clifton, Deborah
Commitee: Ancelet, Barry, Barry, Allen, Ouedraogo, Amadou
School: University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Department: Francophone Studies
School Location: United States -- Louisiana
Source: DAI-A 76/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Romance literature, Caribbean literature
Keywords: French Caribbean literature, Mother-son relationship
Publication Number: 3712152
ISBN: 978-1-321-88786-0
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