Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Document Type

Dissertation (Access Restricted)

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy




Literary and Cultural Studies

Committee Chair

Ladrica Menson-Furr

Committee Member

Jeffrey Scraba

Committee Member

Emily Thrush

Committee Member

Reginald Martin


This dissertation focuses on the ways Morrison's The Bluest Eye and McMillan's Mama, present their African American female characters, taking into consideration the different time periods about which the authors write and whether those representations support or stand against common stereotypical images about African American women. In addition to the introduction and conclusion, this dissertation consists of four chapters exploring the Black female identities in the two examined works. Chapter two of this dissertation goes through the definitions of Feminism and "Radical Feminism," and highlights the reason behind the evolution of African American Feminism and Womanism. Chapter three examines the different portrayals of Black mothers in the two works and discusses how both authors show their characters of Black mothers as victims of the society who, at the same time, have other strong attributes; which leads this chapter to an interesting conclusion that the main mother characters in both works can be classified as powerful and powerless simultaneously. Chapter four explores the representation of African American girls in The Bluest Eye and Mama and analyzes their relationships to their parents and other siblings. This chapter finds out that these relationships are affected by the social norms of the community where the family lives, the financial status of the family, and the mother's strength. These factors also cause African American girls to take on adult responsibilities, in both novels, at early ages. Chapter five examines the relationships of African American women with men as well as those between women themselves. It finds out that male-female African American relationships in both novels are complex. In The Bluest Eye, Morrison represents African American women's relationships with men in various forms. However, no African American woman in The Bluest Eyegets involved in more than one relationship with a man while, on the contrary, McMillan'sMama shows the African American heroines as having multiple relationships with men. Moreover, this chapter finds out that the relationship between women is not presnted in The Bluest Eye as it is extensively shown in Mama where Mildred and her sister-in-law appear as more than friends.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.