West Indian Cultural Influences On Female Identity Development In Paule Marshall's Brown Girl, Brownstones, Praisesong For The Widow, And Daughters
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DepartmentEnglish and Languages
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Praisesong For The Widow
West Indian Women
The problem of this study is to examine in Paule Marshall's Brown Girl, Brownstones (1959), Praisesong for the Widow (1983), and Daughters (1991) how West Indian culture influences identity development in female immigrants in America who use their collective community, cultural practices, and ambition to maintain their cultural values. The writer will employ theories from Edward Said, Homi Bhabha, and James Marcia to locate immigrant women as the Other, to establish hybrid communities and practices, and to discuss stages of identity development. In Brown Girl, Brownstones, Marshall suggests that female West Indians struggle with community identity versus individual identity. Additionally, it is argued that Marshall places these female characters in a state where a disavowal or embrace of cultural values plays a significant role in self-development. In Praisesong for the Widow, Marshall recounts a widow's quest for identity, which culminates in her physical and metaphorical journey. The writer posits that the collective community in Praisesong is lauded for its support system and nurturing ability in the text, and readers are forced to examine the value of belonging to a community versus establishing and maintaining individual identity. In Daughters, Marshall traces the life of her female protagonist, suggesting that her dependent relationship with her father stifles her individuality and self-development (Denniston 150). It is believed that Daughters therefore reveals an antagonistic relationship between the protagonist and her father because of her conflicting desires to please him while simultaneously wanting to break free. Furthermore, through Daughters, Marshall empowers her female readers to rid themselves of relationships that prevent them from developing as individuals.