International Journal of
English and Literature

  • Abbreviation: Int. J. English Lit.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-2626
  • DOI: 10.5897/IJEL
  • Start Year: 2010
  • Published Articles: 275


Ambivalent identity and self repatriation in the plot characterisation of selected black auto/biographical novels

Ndubuisi Martins Aniemeka
  • Ndubuisi Martins Aniemeka
  • Department of English, Faculty of Arts, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 04 August 2015
  •  Accepted: 13 September 2016
  •  Published: 31 March 2019


Literature of the Black Diaspora locates within its multi-layered gamut, a kaleidoscope of artistic productions; self-narratives careered by the quest for identity and self-expatriation from a ruthless atmosphere of slavery and racial subjugation. Studies have fixated on thematic preoccupation, language form in works of Afro-American and Caribbean traditions. Not so much has been explored especially on identity and journey motifs in the autobiographical novels of both traditions. This study seeks to interrogate novels from both climes for the purpose of foregrounding the signposts of journey through plot characterisation. For the purpose of this study on plot character reading of novels of the two literary traditions, we shall deploy aspects of Aderemi Raji-Oyelade’s reading kinesis, a character theory which hinges on two axioms of character kinesis. One privileges the reader who attempts to construct a network of transformative acts of the main character negotiating a conscious retrieval of his/her presence in the text. The other is the kinetic dimension which underlines the function of the character as he/she evolves in a process of motion introducing, confirming or contradicting and ultimately completing the image of the self. Characters’ movements towards awareness are evident in V.S Naipaul’s A House for Mr Biswas, Michael Anthony’s A Year in San Fernando, George Lamming’s In the Castle of My Skin, Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man and Richard Wright’s Black Boy. These texts were subjected to critical analyses to show their identarian aesthetics informed by character transmutability. All the texts evince a great degree of the kinetic reader’s locomotive sense of self struggle and realization gleaned from the characters’ textual kinesis. Literature of the Black Diaspora, drawing from two major traditions of prose writings, employs similar aesthetic rendering of the self; that is, their ordeals in the excruciating environment where their colour confines them to the receiving side of the yoke of second class citizenry.

Key words: Identity, self-narrative, Afro- American- Caribbean traditions, reading kinesis