Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Latin American coming of age narratives: A symbolic and psychoanalytical reading
by Roman, Ruth, Ph.D., University of Maryland, College Park, 2009, 352; 3359435
Abstract (Summary)

Childhood is a disquieting age subsequent to the inexorable exile from love. After being banned from the only boundless union of love it will ever experience, the child sets upon a relentless journey to invent her/himself. Thus, the child surmounts its first creative challenge by transposing feelings of sorrow and loss; its first self silhouette is forged from the hardships of grief. The child assimilates its loss through symbolization, and in doing so, s/he begins her/his irreversible pursuit of identity and self-definition.

This dissertation explores eight Latin American childhood narratives. The child protagonists of these stories reconstruct their world, so as to insert themselves in it. In order to achieve this, they must construct a first identity or façade through which they access their own narratives. The initial chapter focuses on three Andean boys who trial test schoolboy demeanors in and out of the school's enclosure: Timoleón Coloma (Ecuador, 1888) by Carlos Tobar; Gran Señor y Rajadiablos (Chile, 1948) by Eduardo Barrios; Los Ríos Profundos (Perú, 1957) by José María Arguedas. The second chapter explores the paternal home where three girls rehearse appearances and social behaviors: Ifigenia (Venezuela, 1924) by Teresa De la Parra; Balún Canán (México, 1967) by Rosario Castellanos; La Madriguera (Argentina, 1996) by Tununa Mercado. The third and last chapter visits the fictional childhood of two Cuban poets. We witness the dawn of imagery creativity in the poetic identity of two Caribbean boys: Paradiso (Cuba, 1966) by José Lezama Lima and Celestino antes del Alma (Cuba, 1967) by Reinaldo Arenas.

Furthermore, each of these initial attempts at cohesive identity thrive in transition, not only because of the nature of their childhood passage but also because of the volatile social and historical landscapes these eight novels depict.

After examining the different identity constructions in childhood, the following questions can be answered: with what symbolic resources do Latin American children elaborate their first identities? Who are their role models? What symbolic processes activate when confronted with threatening events? In order to answer these questions this dissertation draws insights from the disciplines of psychoanalysis and symbolic anthropology, especially from the assertions of Jacques Lacan, Melanie Klein, Gilbert Durand and Gastón Bachelard.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Aguilar-Mora, Jorge
Commitee: Cypess, Sandra, Demaria, Laura, Friedenberg, Judith, Sosnowski, Saul
School: University of Maryland, College Park
Department: Spanish Language and Literature
School Location: United States -- Maryland
Source: DAI-A 70/06, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Modern literature, Latin American literature, Psychology
Keywords: Childhood, Coming of age, Latin America, Latin American literature, Psychoanalysis, Symbolization
Publication Number: 3359435
ISBN: 978-1-109-20265-6
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