Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

James Olney


Although some critics claim that autobiography is not a West Indian literary mode, I maintain that autobiography, of a special West Indian variety, is necessarily present, for it provides a way of defining the self and bringing the parts of the self together into a unified and coherent whole. Autobiography is the genre that oppressed and colonized populations have traditionally used to write themselves into history and to proclaim their humanity to the world. The writing of autobiography is essential to the process of decolonization, for the colonized must define themselves and recreate themselves in their own images thereby resisting and rejecting images of themselves that have been put forth in English and other European literatures. Thus West Indian writers reject traditional European forms of autobiography in favor of a form that is creatively adapted to their own specific experiences. Most of the works which I examine are called novels, and they may be novels; however, they are also autobiographies which are distinctly and absolutely West Indian in form, content and style.