Date of Award

5-1-1999

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.

Department

Department of English

First Advisor

Mary Arnold Twining, Ph.D

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine the underlying maternal motifs in selected works by African American and Native American women writers. The study, specifically focused upon African American author Toni Morrison’s Beloved, and Native American author Ella Cara Deloria’s Waterlilv. These respective African American and Native American women, through their unwavering positions on maternal supremacy, have rightfully positioned the mother figure, whether biological, cosmic or surrogate, to the forefront. Within this formation, the bearer of life is revealed and revered as the authoritative source of spiritual growth, generational sustenance, and ancestral tribute. Both authors emphasize the significance of the maternal figure through the use of revision and (re)memory, important literary devices reflective of both cultures, to illustrate the simultaneous past, present and future. The research confirmed that the selected African American and Native American women writers strategically devised their literary language to demonstrate the prominence of this central maternal figure, and her role as maintainer of cultural traditions, thus the preserver of a society.

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