ASSIMILATION VS RESISTANCE: IDENTITY ISSUES IN APRIL SINCLAIR´S COFFEE WILL MAKE YOU BLACK (1994)

Marcela Eugenia Clark

Resumen


This study focuses on the experience of African-American women portrayed in Sinclair´s novel Coffee will make you black (1994). The setting of the novel recreates the social milieu of the city of Chicago during the 1960s. The mimetic representation of this city in revolutionary times –these where the times of the Black Power and Civil Rights Movements-  raises the questioning of the notorious difference in the identity features of the female characters of the novel. The purpose of this paper is to unveil what lies at the heart of the dissimilar attitudes that black women adopt, considering that they share the same historical and cultural background and a common present context. One positioning is represented by those women who assimilate to the discourse of white supremacy. The other perspective accounts for those who do not conform to the hegemonic status quo and strive to achieve civil rights. The theoretical framework on which this work is based draws mainly from Hall´s theory on cultural identity. Sarup´s study on identity and culture and the insights provided by psychoanalysis regarding the inner and outer phenomena involved in the process of identity construction have also been considered for the discussion. The conclusions arrived after the hermeneutic scrutiny of the literary piece suggest that it is the personal dialogic relationship between the subject and the two simultaneous operative axes of similarity and difference which explains the divergent attitude within an African-American community.


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