Mother Imagery in the Novels of Afro-Caribbean Women

By Simone A. James Alexander | Go to book overview

2

I Am Me, I Am You
The Intricate Mother-Daughter Dyadic Relationship

My past was my mother. . . . Oh, it was a laugh, for I spent so much time saying I did not want to be like my mother that I missed the whole story: I was not like my mother—I was my mother.

—Jamaica Kincaid, Lucy

This quote gives an insight into the complex mother-daughter relationship as it exemplifies the existing ambivalence within this relationship. The mother-daughter relationship is classified equally by intense love and intense hatred. Noticeably, the daughter's childhood years are marked by innocence and great love and admiration for the kind, understanding mother. Inexplicably, this love is transformed into hatred and exacerbated during puberty by the mother's need to control. It is about the tumultuous adolescent years that Kincaid writes when she concludes that the relationship between the mother and the daughter mirrors the relationship between “Europe and the place that [she is] from, which is to say a relationship between the powerful and the powerless. The girl is powerless, and the mother is powerful.” Although Kincaid admits that the struggle for autonomy is neither political nor public, but personal, in her works the personal is always conflated with the political. By placing the personal mother-daughter relationship within a political context, Kincaid insinuates that the personal, more often than not, is conditioned by the political. This conditioning is concretized by Rosalie Riegle Troester: “The currents that flow between Black mothers and their daughters are often tumultuous and intensified by the racism and sexism of white America. Black mothers, particularly those with strong ties to their community, sometimes build high banks around their young daughters, isolating them from the dangers of

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