Identity Development And Survival Strategies In Selected Novels By Michael Anthony And Cyril Everard Palmer

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English and Languages


Doctor of Philosophy

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The problem of this study was to trace the identity development of Afro-Caribbean adolescent males against their socio-economic and historical backgrounds and how they use mimicry, create hybrid practices, and adopt strategies of Anancy in order to subvert colonial authority and to survive in novels by two postcolonial Caribbean writers from Trinidad and Jamaica. The researcher employed a number of theories—economic, psychosocial, psychosexual, moral, cultural, and postcolonial—to assess the young Afro-Caribbean males' development. To analyze the above problem, this investigation identified three novels by Trinidadian author Michael Anthony: The Year in San Fernando (1965), Green Days by the River (1967), and King of the Masquerade (1973); and three by Jamaican author C. Everard Palmer: My Father, Sun-Sun Johnson (1974), The Cloud with the Silver Lining (1987), and its sequel Full Circle: The Rami Johnson Story (2003). Anthony and Palmer suggest that young Afro-Caribbean males' identities are affected economically, socially, sexually, and morally by colonial ideals. Additionally, poverty compounds the Afro-Caribbean adolescents' problems, and Anthony and Palmer reveal that a lack of social infrastructure, particularly physical and mental health care, affects poverty, leading to sickness and death. Afro-Caribbean males suffer because of lack of strong male role models and/or breadwinners in their homes, which forces them to take on adult responsibilities at an early age; hence, education is often aborted or delayed. Landownership marks one distinction between Anthony's and Palmer's novels; because Palmer's characters own lands, they experience upward social mobility through agriculture. Another difference is in the treatment of adolescent sexuality, where Anthony is more explicit, while Palmer shows unadulterated male/female relationships. Anthony and Palmer posit that the young men are entrenched into their Afro-Caribbean cultures despite colonial or colonial influenced societies; however, some upper-class characters reject Caribbean culture. The intricate plots also depict Afro-Caribbean males subverting colonial ideals through mimicry and hybridity but especially through Anancy-like trickery. At the end of the novels, Anthony's characters, Francis and Shellie, stay dependent in poor oppressive societies, remaining in James Marcia's Identity Foreclosure stage, while his character Alan, along with Palmer's Milton and Rami are identity achievers.