The contexts of her story : an exploration of race, power and gender in selected novels of Bessie Head
Author(s)Ngomane, Elvis Hangalakani
Head, Bessie, 1937-1986 -- Criticism and interpretation
Head, Bessie, 1937-1986 -- Question of power
Gender in literature
Identity (Philosophical concept) in literature
Power (Social sciences) in literature
Women, Black -- South Africa -- Social conditions
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AbstractThis study explores the triple imbrications of race, power and gender in the selected
novels of Bessie Head. A critical analysis of Maru (1971) and A Question of' Power
(1974) is undertaken with a view to identifying the subordinating and the
marginalising tropes that result in silencing of female subjectivities in Head's
protagonists. Linked to a critical reading of the novels, this study examines the role of
cultural and psychological forces in maintaining patriarchal hegemony, which is
based upon hierarchy and domination of women rather than equality.
Furthennore, this dissertation suggests that Head's depiction of narrow ethnic and
racial bigotry serves a broader etiological purpose of accounting for "the state of
thingsff within the South African context. Thus this study oscillates between the
abstract constructs and the concrete social experiences within which Bessie Head's
literary imagination subsists.
In this study, particular attention is paid, in addition to critiques of individual texts, to
some of Head's biographical elements with a view on the one hand, to highlighting
the moments, events and issues which are reflected as " contexts of her-story" and on
the other, to amplifying how Head's formative experiences contribute to her critique
of the exploitative racially structured narratives.
By using Foucault's theories within the social constructionist model, this dissertation
aims to demonstrate the insidious intersections between racism and sexism and how
these constructs are implicated in the conception and construction of power.
Specifically, this study argues that due to their arbitrary applications, racial and sexual
difference be viewed as dynamic and contested, rather than fixed.
A synthesis is reached which accords literarure a role within the framework of socio-cultural practice in general.
Ngomane, Elvis Hangalakani (2009) The contexts of her story : an exploration of race, power and gender in selected novels of Bessie Head, University of South Africa, Pretoria, <http://hdl.handle.net/10500/1157>