Quest for Identity: A Major Concern in the Life and Literature of African-Americans

Pratidhwani the Echo (I):82-88 (2012)
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The painful and tragic experience of the African- Americans in the United States of America led them to struggle for and establish an identity of their own. The survey of the history of the African- American people in different geographical spaces such as the African homeland, the middle passage, the American South and then the industrialized North, presents a picture where identity has been the foremost casualty in a history of displacement and migration, embittered by a conflict with the majority voice, engaged in a struggle for survival against unexpected suffering. The tragedy was that the African- American’s quest for identity began over the things for which he himself was not responsible- his black colour, his race, his ancestors, and his physic. All this led the black men to turn himself into an object. It is under such circumstances that an unending and always expanding quest for identity began. Both the African- American men and women were the victims but there is a marked difference in their approach. While the men had to fight only in terms of race and class, the women were additionally burdened with the issues of gender as they saw that it is not only the white man but also the black man who often ill-treated them or misrepresented them in the literature.

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