The Eve / Hagar Paradigm in the Fiction of Quince Duncan

The Eve / Hagar Paradigm in the Fiction of Quince Duncan

The Eve / Hagar Paradigm in the Fiction of Quince Duncan

The Eve / Hagar Paradigm in the Fiction of Quince Duncan


Born in Costa Rica in 1940, Quince Duncan has penned an impressive body of work, including novels, short stories, essays, and literary and cultural criticism. Despite his reputation as Costa Rica's leading novelist, Duncan remains one of the least studied writers. Dellita Martin-Ogunsola seeks to remedy this inequity with The Eve/Hagar Paradigm in the Fiction of Quince Duncan. In this first book-length study devoted to Duncan's work, Martin-Ogunsola explores the issues of race, class, and gender in five of Duncan's major works published during the 1970s. Focusing primarily on the roles of women, Martin-Ogunsola uses the figures of Eve and the Egyptian slave Hagar to provide, through metaphor, an in-depth analysis of the female characters portrayed in Duncan's prose. Specifically, the Eve/Hagar paradigm is employed to examine how the essential characteristics of femininity play out in the context of ethnicity and caste. The book begins with Dawn Song (1970), the story of Antillean immigrants struggling with migration, oppression, and resistance while adapting to a new environment, and continues through Dead-End Street (1979), a novel exploring the ramifications of the myth, perpetrated through history, that defines Costa Rica in terms of Euro-Hispanic culture. Martin-Ogunsola illustrates Duncan's use of a female presence that challenges the traditional treatment of women in literature. Spanning the period between the initial settlement of the Atlantic region of Costa Rica during the early years of the twentieth century to the 1948 Costa Rican Civil War, Martin-Ogunsola's book invites the reader to view the world through the eyes of Duncan's female characters. The Eve/Hagar Paradigm inthe Fiction of Quince Duncan examines some of the most compelling issues of contemporary Latin American literature and illustrates how a prominent Costa Rican writer deconstructs the stereotype of woman as wife/lover/slave. In


Eve and Hagar are two historical figures who have captured the human imagination across time and place — Eve because she is the archetype of womanhood, and Hagar because she is the prototype of the survival and resilience of femaleness in a patriarchal society. Moreover, the actions of these women offer compelling and contradictory models of behavior, not only for real people but also for fictional characters and artistic representations. Eve is the first woman presented in an overview of the Creation:

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. (Gen. 1:26— 27; emphasis added)

In the above passages the word man is synonymous with humanity, which is then developed into its gendered, interdependent components. Man as male is not named until chapter 2 of Genesis, but it is clear that gendering is a fundamental part of the human condition. Thus, in chapter 1 “man/human” is to “them” as “man/human” is to “male and female, ” distinct but equal aspects of the same being. According to Edith Deen, “the fact that God did not give man dominion until he had woman standing beside him is evidence enough of her exalted place in the Creation.” Thus, the Edenic model of humankind illustrates a relationship of parity and shared authority. a secular explication of the Creation portrays Eve as a “deposed goddess, ” or “humanity's earliest attempts to articulate the nature of Woman, the Feminine as a religious concept, and the very origins of human consciousness of the sacred.” Another viewpoint attempts . . .

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