The Place of Identity and Hybridity on Literary Commitment in Bessie Head’s When Rain Clouds Gather
AbstractThe current study examines the influence of identity on literary commitment in Bessie Head’s When rain clouds gather. In particular, the study is interested in the hybrid syncretic crossings reflected in the text and which define her commitment as a writer in the Third Space – a dimension that has so far been overlooked by critics of her literary works. The study adopts the analytical research design. The postcolonial theory is instrumental in the reading, analysis and interpretation of the selected text. The data collected through content analysis of the text is coded according to thematic concerns, the mode of characterization and the vision of the author. The findings reveal that Head’s identity influences her commitment in her choice of characters that like herself, are cast in the in-between space. These characters shuttle between points of inclusion and exclusion. Within this in-between or Third Space, identities defy fixity thereby remaining fickle, fluid and unstable. People are thus cast in a perpetual process of becoming, always mutating or changing into something ‘other’. Essentialist formulations of identity are undermined by defiance of territorial confinement which allows for cultural fusion, but in the process also results in fission or more precisely, a shift from essentialist perceptions of self image. Hybridity, on the other hand, emerges as the coexistence of differences. In such cases, differences meet, mix and tolerate one another. However, it does not imply total erasure of cultural differences; its only impact is to blur the boundaries. Despite this, hybridity is propped by the author as the recipe for a perfect society.
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