Dissertations and Theses

Date of Award


Document Type




First Advisor

Lyn Di Iorio

Second Advisor

Kedon K. Willis

Third Advisor

Andras Kisery


Caribbean Literature, In Praise of Creoleness, Jamaica Kincaid, Jean Bernabe, Patrick Chamoiseau, Raphael Confiant


This thesis makes the claim that Xuela, the protagonist of the novel The Autobiography of My Mother mirrors the principles of the essay In Praise of Creoleness by Jean Bernabé, Patrick Chamoiseau, and Raphael Confiant. These works, published nearly a decade apart address a process of identity formation in which specifically Caribbean identity features blend together in a fluid and complex way, the process of creolization. The essay, In Praise of Creoleness, can be seen as the manifesto of creolization, while Kincaid’s Xuela in The Autobiography of My Mother is the manifestation. Kincaid’s work presents an account of an individual’s spiritual and intellectual journey towards self-reclamation, while the essay’s ambition is to present this process in a broad sense theoretically, by presenting utopian declarations; both works however do so with statements and accounts that are universal to the Caribbean diaspora.

The protagonist and narrator of Jamaica Kincaid’s novel The Autobiography of My Mother, Xuela is a complicated, compelling, and fiercely independent character. Xuela and Jean Bernabé, Patrick Chamoiseau, and Raphaël Confiant call for an abandonment of generalizations associated with race, gender, and social or political identity, thereby constructing a counterpoint to racial essentialism. Both texts investigate and celebrate elements of identity that they uphold as more profound. The novel’s protagonist Xuela and the essay, published eight years apart, mirror one another in their attention to key elements of creolization: death, self-reclamation and empowerment, the rejection of colonial mindsets, and the reclamation of identity free from racial essentialism. These elements stand apart from a rigid adherence to racial and cultural essentialism.



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