Subverting Patriarchy in Jamaica Kincaid’s The Autobiography of my Mother: Orderly Disorder

Asma Krifa


Concern with questions of order and disorder has risen in a variety of fields and disciplines, resulting in a great deal of controversy in relation to these two apparently ‘dichotomous’ concepts. In literature, for instance, writers, not only of different nationalities and ethnicities, but also of various intellectual affiliations, have displayed a particular focus on this area of interest. A female postcolonial and a feminist writer, who also writes within the framework of post-modernism, Jamaica Kincaid is among those who have tackled the issue of (dis)order in a multiplicity of ways in their fiction. In her The Autobiography of my Mother, the Caribbean author seems to overthrow traditional modals of order that adhere to the superiority of the figure of the “patriarch” through the female narrator, who is at the same time the protagonist. The current paper will explore how Kincaid attempts to reshape the conventional order of established social conventions through her fiction. By empowering her female protagonist both sexually and intellectually, Kincaid seems to refuse to reduce women to any forms of submissiveness or victimization. The current paper will also investigate how Kincaid’s act of endowing the protagonist with a mind and a will of her own mirrors the writer’s rebelliousness against the conventional assumption that male power is given and monolithic. Through her endeavor to subvert traditional modes of patriarchy, Kincaid lays down the pillars of a new order –as opposed to an old order which cherishes male supremacy –thus, an orderly disorder. 


Order, disorder, orderly, subversion, patriarchy.

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