Fatherhood in Caribbean Fiction

Figuring the Father in Contemporary Caribbean Fiction
Jennifer Rahim

The figure of the father has long troubled the Caribbean’s imagination. This unease is perhaps most demonstrated in the fact that, across the disciplines, fatherhood has often been represented in various states of absentia: not so much completely missing, as relegated to the margins of literary and cultural studies. The region’s matriarchal construction has generally been given more attention, and understandably so. Edith Clarke’s foundational  1957 study,  My Mother Who Fathered Me, evokes this well-circulated feature of the Caribbean’s social landscape. Clarke’s title alludes to George Lamming’s novel,  In the Castle of My Skin  (1953), where the protagonist G. praises the almost hermaphroditic heroism of his mother: “My father who had only fathered the idea of me left me the sole liability of my mother who really fathered me” (11). From the beginning of the 1990s, a new cadre of novels from the Anglophone Caribbean that gives prominence to fathers and fatherhood suggests this trend has shifted. Some of these include Shani Mootoo’s Cereus Blooms at Night and  Valmiki’s Daughter, Nalo Hopkinson’s  Brown Girl in the Ring  and  Midnight Robber, Lawrence Scott’s Night Calypso, Merle Hodge’s For the Life of Laetitia, Jamaica Kincaid’s Mr. Potter, Martin Mordecai’s Blue Mountain Trouble and Patricia Powell’s The Fullness of Everything. 


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