MISERY BABY: A (RE)VISION OF THE BILDUNGSROMAN BY CARIBBEAN AND U.S. BLACK WOMEN WRITERS

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2005-05-27

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Emerging from a description of the protagonist in Edwidge Danticat's short story "Caroline's Wedding," the phrase "misery baby," is developed as a critical trope to engage questions of gender, as well as individual, national and regional identity in the Caribbean and the United States. Using misery baby as a template, I discuss two other Caribbean Bildungsromane: Jamaica Kincaid's Lucy and Edwidge Danticat's Breath, Eyes, Memory. I then analyze Toni Morrison's Beloved to make larger diasporic connections. The characteristics that mark misery baby include her positioning as a coming-of-age character between two nations/cultures; her questioning of false dichotomies; her travel across geographic borders; her ability to negotiate a hybrid identity through a questioning of borders and binaries allowing for the reconceptualization of an ironic nationhood; and lastly her participation in a new way of remembering the past through an understanding of the role of the past in the present.

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