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Language in Jamaica Kincaid’s Autobiography of My Mother

Use of Language in The Autobiography of My Mother

Language. It is the way words flow into sentences, which flow into paragraphs, which flow into novels. It is the ability of the author to create an intricate web of plot, emotion, symbolism, and relationships through only words. In The Autobiography of My Mother , Jamaica Kincaid uses language in a way that is very simplistic, yet highly effective. Her writing is direct and to the point. There is neither flowery wording not complex sentence structure. Without the distractions of overflowing language, the depth of Kincaid’s material comes through with particular effectiveness. It is the simplest of writing elements, that of repetition and opposition, that Kincaid uses to create a novel rich in language and eloquence.

The most prominent linguistic aspect of the novel is its lack of dialogue. There is not one line of dialogue throughout the entire novel. This reliance on narration accomplishes several things for Kincaid’s protagonist, Xuela Claudette Richardson. First, it allows Xuela to be defined by no one but herself. There…

Abandonment in Jamaica Kincaid’s Autobiography of My Mother

Abandonment in Jamaica Kincaid’s Autobiography of My Mother

Xuela, the protagonist of Jamaica Kincaid’s novel, The Autobiography of My Mother , comments, “I felt I did not want to belong to anyone, that since the one person I would have consented to own me had never lived to do so, I did not want anyone to belong to me” (112). The outward coldness of this statement is clearly observed, but it is the underlying statement Xuela is making that is truly a significant theme within the novel; Xuela’s fear of abandonment. She aborts the child she is carrying, leaving her barren. She chooses not to be a mother herself. She refuses to form close relationships with men or women. She is terrified that, like her mother, everyone around her will desert her.

Shortly after her mother’s death, Xuela’s father places her in the care of the the woman who does his laundry. Even as a child, Xuela understands that first her mother, and now her father, have abandoned her. She realizes, “My mother had died when I was born, unable to protect herself in a cruel world beyond ordinary imagining, unable…

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