Collections > Electronic Theses and Dissertations > Remember me: identity formation in Clarice Lispector, Isabel Allende, and Michelle Cliff
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This dissertation deals with contemporary women writing in Spanish America, Brazil, and the Caribbean. I explore how identity is constructed in Clarice Lispector's Perto do coração selvagem [Near to the Wild Heart], A paixão segundo G.H. [The Passion According to G.H.], Água viva [The Stream of Life], and A hora da estrela [The Hour of the Star]; Isabel Allende's Eva Luna, Hija de la fortuna [Daughter of Fortune], Retrato en sepia [Portrait in Sepia], and La casa de los espíritus [The House of the Spirits]; Michelle Cliff's Abeng, No Telephone to Heaven, and Free Enterprise. In these texts the characters have difficulty accepting their compulsory gender roles, which are for the most part attributable to a hierarchical, male-dominated society and perpetuated by almost everyone. I argue that this process of gender identity formation is both particular (individual, formed by the inner strength of each character) and collective (shaped by society's demands). Since gender identity formation is an open-ended process, none of the characters can be said to have clearly defined their genders or to have definitively shaped their identities. Other issues, such as class and race, also play an important role in shaping identity and are dealt with in my analysis. The role of history is questioned in the works of Isabel Allende and Michelle Cliff, who attempt to bring new perspectives to historical facts. My theoretical approach synthesizes various analyses by scholars such as Judith Butler, Benedito Nunes, Hélène Cixous, Nancy Chodorow, and Stuart Hall. Chapter I discusses some complexities regarding the definition of gender as well as gender relations in Latin America and the necessity of mutual support among genders. Chapter II reads Clarice Lispector's novels, paying particular attention to the journey within that composes the characters' search for identity. The third chapter argues that Isabel Allende's texts encompass a search for the self with rewritings of history from a woman's point of view. Chapter IV examines Michelle Cliff's novels, which present strong awakenings concerning racial as well as gender identity and the struggle for power in the relation between colonized and colonizer.