The Daughter's Return: African-American and Caribbean Women's Fictions of History

By Caroline Rody | Go to book overview

6
Decolonizing Jamaica's Daughter
Learning History in the Novels of Michelle Cliff

THE NOVEL AS ABENG

“You taught me language, and my profit on't / Is, I know how to curse” (The Tempest I.2.363–64). For Jamaica-born novelist Michelle Cliff, the famous retort to Prospero that inspired a host of twentieth-century Caribbean Calibans “immediately brings to… mind the character of Bertha Rochester, wild and raving ragout, as Charlotte Brontë describes her. ” Feminizing the New World rebel savage, Cliff claims mad Bertha as Caliban's missing sister. To complete the mythic family tree, Cliff declares herself “Caliban's Daughter” and “granddaughter of Sycorax. ” As for Clare Savage, semiautobiographical heroine of Cliff's first two novels, “Bertha Rochester is her ancestor. ” And, she adds, “It takes a West Indian writer, Jean Rhys, to describe Bertha from the inside…” (“Clare” 264–65). 1 Consciously deriving from Rhys a tradition of West Indian women's literary resistance, Cliff creates in Abeng (1984) and its sequel No Telephone to Heaven (1987) a heroine whose life story appropriates European “language”—in its genres of historiography, historical fiction, and the bildungsroman—in order to reclaim her maternal history.

Perhaps no contemporary writer has engaged more overtly in the enterprise of rewriting history than Michelle Cliff. Born and raised in Jamaica, educated in England and the United States, resident here for decades, Michelle Cliff is a quintessential New World writer, whose fiction recrosses the Caribbean and the Atlantic to tell the interwoven histories of New World peoples. In Cliff's revisionary project, the problem of colonization is first of all that of the colonization of minds, and liberation first a matter of selfeducation. We might say then that her two-novel bildungsroman traces the decolonization of the heroine's mind as prelude to her self-education in her own story. 2 Learning her history and her own place in it, Clare Savage can develop from “colonized child” (Abeng 77) to revolutionary. Though the novel of her childhood imprisons her in an allegory of colonized consciousness, the novel of her liberation allows Clare to emerge beyond racial division and self-alienation to accept the full complexity of her history, and so to turn a daughterly embrace to the motherland.

-151-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Daughter's Return: African-American and Caribbean Women's Fictions of History
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 267

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.