New Feminist Voices in American Literature: Telling Tales of Mothers and Daughters

By Mabel Deane Khawaja.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In Playing in the Dark, the African American Nobel laureate, Toni Morrison refers to the
untold stories of unrequited love of mothers and their pain of separation from their daughters when
she alludes to Willa Cather’s early twentieth century effort to address this theme in Saphira and the
Slave Girl. However, lacking the necessary cultural framework, the English novel remained incomplete.
With the advancement of literary theory, pluralism and feminist perspectives have enriched American
narratives. In A Mercy, Morrison’s recent novel, Sorrow names her daughter ”Complete” because
the birth of this daughter frees her from her schizophrenic past, giving her a new purpose in life. In
her Nobel prizewinning novel Beloved, Morrison transforms the archetypal illusions of motherhood
as she recounts the shocking tale of a mother who is haunted by the memory of her daughter whom
she murders to save her from the tortures of slavery. Several American authors have infused new
feminist perspectives to expand the transnational scope of American literature by portraying the mother-daughter
relationship as a revealing aspect of the family structure amidst cultural diversity. This paper
examines the significance of cross-cultural discourse in stories about mothers and daughters by Toni
Morrison, Khaled Husseini, Sarah Suleri, and Amy Tan.

Keywords: Narratives, Cross-cultural, Feminism, Diaspora, Mothers and Daughters, Global Family

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 8, Issue 11, pp.281-288. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 605.898KB).

Dr. Mabel Deane Khawaja

Associate Professor, English Department, Hampton University, Hampton, Virginia, USA

Mabel Deane-Khawaja, M.A. (Western Illinois University), Ph.D. (West Virginia University) teaches literature and composition courses at Hampton University, Virginia, USA. She is a former International Programs Coordinator/French Translator of the US government and a recipient of the 1999-2000 Fulbright Award as Senior Scholar to Tunisia, North Africa. Her cross-cultural research includes several scholarly articles in refereed publications. Her recent participation in Tocqueville Institute (University of Richmond, 2010) has engaged her in research that incorporates new transnational perspectives in humanities curriculum. She is the chair of the NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English), Assembly on American literature and Editor of a peer reviewed journal Notes on American Literature.

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