Africanism and Authenticity in African-American Women's by Amy K. Levin

By Amy K. Levin

Africanism and Authenticity strains the continued impression of West African women's traditions and societies on late-twentieth-century literature through African-American ladies. the 1st half the publication makes a speciality of how those affects permeate either subject and imagery in novels via Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Jamaica Kincaid, and Gloria Naylor. the second one part makes a speciality of fresh neo-slave narratives as works that sprang from the African event instead of works that purely parallel the unique slave narratives. Levin is without doubt one of the first writers to debate Toni Morrison's Paradise and Gloria Naylor's males of Brewster position. Amy Levin's examine is the 1st to concentration so explicitly at the significance of West African women's traditions in modern writing through African-American girls. Levin demanding situations feminist stories of those writings through revealing the level to which these stories stay Eurocentric, at the same time they query Afrocentric readings that draw simply on African male traditions as though they have been similar to women's practices. In addressing those concerns, Africanism and Authenticity is helping to refine the present dialogue of literary authenticity and records a particular culture that

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Winnicott (14). Not all Eurocentric readings are so effective. The shortcomings of Eurocentric feminist discussions of motherhood in Toni Morrison’s Beloved and Jamaica Kincaid’s novels will be considered in later chapters. Still other critics have traced references to canonical works in African-American women’s novels: for instance, when Catherine Ward compares Naylor’s Linden Hills with Dante’s Inferno. While some might argue that Naylor and her sister novelists reinforce the canon, Peter Erickson suggests that allusions to such “classics” as Shakespeare’s Hamlet or The Tempest sub- 28 Africanism and Authenticity vert the dominant paradigm: “Naylor’s interest in Shakespeare neither translates into kinship nor supports a model of continuity; the main note is rather one of conflict and difference” (246).

And Junior Lee is a ridiculous figure, ruled by his wife, Ruby. To all intents and purposes, then, Willow Springs is a matriarchal society, its roots going back to the slave girl Sapphira who murdered her master, Bascombe Wade, after he deeded her his land. Sapphira later walked over a cliff into the ocean, away from her seven sons. Yet Sapphira has lived on in the minds of her descendants, her death the subject of whispers. Her name comes to Mama Day in a dream after she has prayed to the “Father and Son as she’d been taught” (280), suggesting that Sapphira inhabits a powerful realm beyond the level of consciousness.

Yet, Thompson argues, chickens “are ever-present in the ritual drama of the diaspora. As noted by Zora Neale Hurston, they are especially important in sacrificial rites of the Hoo Doo culture of the American South and the Caribbean” (97), which in turn bears marks of African rites. And, as I shall demonstrate, an Africanist reading also reveals that the cane is a sign of leadership, a staff of office. Barbara Christian’s article, “An Angle of Seeing: Motherhood in Buchi Emecheta’s The Joys of Motherhood and Alice Walker’s Meridian (1984),” also provides a conceptual framework for reading Mama Day.

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