Melanie Clore

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Daryl Cumber Dance

Second Advisor

Dr. Suzanne W. Jones

Third Advisor

Dr. John Marx


In Jamaica Kincaid's Annie John and Paule Marshall's Praisesong for the Widow, the sea incites a vital discourse on western influence, diasporic identity, and self-discovery. Both female protagonists, Annie John and Avey Johnson, purge their old identities and learn to embrace their cultural origins through the guidance, care, and persuasion of ancestral figures. The sea is not only a purifying agent, but also a catalyst for change as both women struggle to manage their multiple cultural influences, and achieve a unified, stable, independent self. The sea is also charged with socio-political controversy as colonization and tourism intrude upon the Caribbean and its people; the sea becomes a commodity to be bought, consumed, and exploited. In both novels the sea acts as a dynamic medium by which complex binaries are expressed and is the guiding force behind personal transformation and rebirth.