Date of Thesis
In this exploration of Maryse Condé's novels I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem (1986) and Tree of Life: A Novel of the Caribbean (1987) , I investigate the prolific francophone West Indian author Maryse Condé's ability to write the female perspective back into a literary tradition dominated first by a French colonial perspective, then by her Antillean male predecessors. I will examine her rejection of previous theory and practice and, in so doing, highlight how she spotlights gender as a critical component of identity that has been traditionally neglected in the historical literary trajectory. My analysis focuses on the ways in which the narrators Tituba and Coco navigate their silenced spaces. In my first chapter, I will explore how Condé re-appropriates female literary figures, stereotypes, and sexual pleasure to combat Caribbean stereotypes and clichés in I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem. I will pay particular attention to the ways in which sexual violence silences women, and further emphasize Tituba's self-empowerment through her choice to embrace her promiscuousness. The following chapter shifts focus to Tree of Life: A Novel of the Caribbean, exploring the ways in which cultural violence is enforced in colonial and post-colonial communities. I will delve into the intricacies surrounding the erasure of francophone Antillean identity through the educational colonial project, and highlight Coco's project of transcending the long-standing silence that oppresses both her multigenerational Guadeloupean family and herself. Finally, I will analyze Condé's literary decisions to augment strong female friendships that help Tituba and Coco find and further craft their unique female voices. The third chapter investigates Condé's use of autobiographical storytelling and first-person narrative as a way to reinscribe female subjectivity into a sphere of silence, allowing Tituba and Coco to turn towards the act of writing as a means of survival.
Maryse Condé, francophone Caribbean, female voice, recontextualizing tituba, transcending silenced histories, identity, breaking the silence, first-person narration, female friendship
Honors Thesis (Bucknell Access Only)
Bachelor of Arts
Languages, Cultures & Linguistics
Minor, Emphasis, or Concentration
French & Francophone Studies
Renée K. Gosson
Sprague, Emily Lila, "Breaking the Silence: Reclaiming Francophone Caribbean Female Voice in Maryse Condé's Writing" (2017). Honors Theses. 390.