I Am Who (You Say) I Am: Issues of Identity in Kincaid's Lucy and Rhys' Wide Sargasso Sea

In the beginning of Jean Rhys' novel, Wide Sargasso Sea, Antoinette Cosway, a young creole woman, lives in poverty with her mother, Annette, and her brother, Pierre, on the island of Jamaica. In the society in which they live, Antoinette is oppressed and discriminated against because of her race, class, and gender. Not only does Annette favor Pierre, but the entire family is targeted by the Jamaicans, first because of their race and the fact that they are poor, and later because of their wealth. Life is no better for Lucy Josephine Potter, the native Antiguan title character in Jamaica Kincaid's novel, Lucy. Living in Manhattan as an au pair, Lucy is constantly faced with reminders of the oppression she endured in her country, both at the hands of her mother and her British colonizers. She soon realizes that no matter how much distance she places between herself and the past, she cannot escape this oppression. The situations that these two girls face may be similar, but they both deal with them in extremely different ways. While the historical and cultural circumstances in which Antoinette grows up cause her to define herself solely as a victim, Lucy finds strength within the oppression she is forced to endure; as a...

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