Universally, male writers have tended to create images of women which reveal the familiar male tendency to view women merely as functionaries whose role basically is determined by male needs, male motivations, male fears, and male fantasies. When woman is submissive, docile and pure, she is to be protected and revered; then, she is the virgin/goddess. When she is assertive and strong, she is to be avoided and despised; then, she is the bitch/shrew. When she is passionate and active, she is to be resisted and feared; she is the whore/temptress. While this genera] categorizing of women characters carries over into Caribbean literature, it is interesting to observe that the specific role of female characters in this body of literature is most frequently determined by race. Here, the common image of the black woman is that of a strong matriarch, dedicated to protecting and nourishing her male charges. Here, the most frequent image of the Indian woman is that of a docile, insipid, tractable shadow of a being with no mind, personality, or significance of her own. However, the most persistent, stereotypical, and restricted image in this context is that of the white woman, who is viewed as an eager, lustful, sex-starved nymphomaniac, one whose goal in life is to be desired, seduced, and violated by a black or Indian buck.
Copyright © 1993, Georgia State University's Department of English. This article first appeared in Studies in the Literary Imagination: 26:2 (1993), 21-31.
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Dance, Daryl Cumber. "Matriarchs, Doves, and Nymphos: Prevalent Images of Black, Indian, and White Women in Caribbean Literature." Studies in the Literary Imagination 26, no. 2 (Fall 1993): 21-31.