The Wretched of the Earth: Violence and Motherhood in Conceição Evaristo’s Insubmissas lágrimas de mulheres
Conceição Evaristo has contributed significantly to the discussion about Afro-Brazilian literature and literary criticism, especially that produced by black women writers, through her literary works and critical essays. In many of her novels, Evaristo challenges preconceived ideas and depicts the implications of being a black woman in Brazil. Evaristo’s Insubmissas lágrimas de mulheres (2011) is a collection of thirteen short stories that have Afro-Brazilian women as the protagonists. In each story, Evaristo creates a literary narrator that hears each character share her memories, in a process of remembering and rearticulating her experience. One common theme is that of motherhood, which is characterized by conflicts between women who are trying to help each other survive in a society that constantly tears them apart, mainly because of the constraints imposed by a racist and sexist society. In light of Frantz Fanon’s theories, this paper focuses on “Aramides Florença,” “Shirley Paixão,” and “Lia Gabriel” to analyze the peculiarities of the experience of motherhood and violence, which deeply shapes the characters’ subjectivities. As each woman character suffers different kinds of physical and psychological violence, they resist in different ways. Nevertheless, motherhood becomes their source of strength to fight against victimization. The maternal figure in the short stories is portrayed differently from the traditional perspective of submission, because motherhood can be help women challenge their oppressors and shape their sense of self. This new reading of Afro-Brazilian literature draws on Fanon’s understanding of violence and resistance to analyze how motherhood offers a possibility of empowerment for the three women characters.
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