So Far From God

History and Identity in So Far From God and The Autobiography of My Mother College

The characters in Ana Castillo’s So Far From God and Jamaica Kincaid’s The Autobiography of My Mother each straddle a line between two worlds representing old and new, the conqueror and the defeated. Kincaid’s narrator, Xuela Claudette Richardson, is a product of colonialism in the Caribbean: a mixture of European, African, and Carib. Meanwhile, the people represented in Castillo’s novel are Chicano, Mexican, and Spanish living on the border of the United States and Mexico. In many ways, Kincaid and Castillo’s characters are defined by their ancestry and the histories of their families. This definition, or the forging of identity based on history and legacy, is expressed as problematic in both novels due to the natures of colonization and defeat: the ancestral lands of the people of Tome, New Mexico are bought by white newcomers and the Carib people, who Xuela identifies her mother and, therefore, herself with, are now extinct. Consequently, the characters in both So Far From God and The Autobiography of My Mother are creating identities based on a shadow world, a world that exists through the idea of ancestry but, at the same time, is unable to survive because of the oppressive events of history. In their novels, Castillo and...

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