Dark Phoenix: The Representation of Black Woman in "Je Suis Martiniquaise" by Mayotte Capecia and "Mon Examen De Blanc" by Jacqueline Manicom.
Black women writers in the French West Indies were conspicuously absent from the literary canon during the negritude movement in the 1940's. Mayotte Capecia was one of the few who managed to write during this time. Capecia was criticized severely for her novel Je suis Martiniquaise by Frantz Fanon and accused of betraying her race because of the inter-racial love affair between her heroine and a French soldier. Jacqueline Manicom, her literary descendant who wrote Mon Examen de Blanc in 1972, was ostracized from the medical profession for her political beliefs concerning women's rights. This dissertation examines images and representation in Je suis Martiniquaise by Mayotte Capecia and Mon Examen de Blanc by Jacqueline Manicom. Chapter One explores the subject of autobiography and how one person's story can represent a collective consciousness through the use of the autobiographical first person. Chapter two discusses Capecia's Je suis Martiniquaise and how she employs the autobiographical first person to subvert stereotypes found in the historical travelogues, specifically those of Lafcadio Hearn in Two Years in the West Indies. Amazingly, Capecia plucked characters and text straight from Hearn to create an autobiography not of herself, but of a sort of "everywoman." It could have been any Martinican woman and she uses this to slyly criticize postcolonialism. She did it so well, that it has taken her critics over fifty years to scratch the surface and understand what she intended to do. Chapter three focuses on a Jacqueline Manicom's Mon Examen de Blanc. She also employs the autobiographical first person, but in a more overtly militant novel. Her graphic images of the female body in the context of a gynecological wing of a hospital serve to promote her agenda of contraceptive rights for the women of her country.