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Abstract

Theorists including Maziki Thame, Faith Smith, and Patricia Mohammed approach identity and gender as constructions that necessarily negotiate the legacy of colonialism. Ideas of empowerment in the Caribbean have been influenced by Frantz Fanon’s theory of decolonization, which focuses on a masculinized model of selfhood that privileges acts of agency as means of empowerment. Violence is necessary in the process of decolonization not only because structures and institutions of imperialism must be physically dismounted, but also because the damaged psyche of the colonized can only be healed through these acts of agency. In Elizabeth Nunez’s novel Bruised Hibiscus, Trinidad’s Port of Spain community is locked in a cycle violence and retribution. In the novel, Thame's suggestion that the logic of a colonial system persists in postcolonial societies by perpetuating a culture of retribution is evident. Individuals are bound in a cycle of violence, a bondage which Thame believes negates rather than affirms individual and communal humanity. In Bruised Hibiscus, these dynamics of power and control are painfully revealed in “man-woman business,” the relationships between men and women. Through an analysis of Nunez’s novel, this article examines the strength of Thame’s assertion that, while self-recognition and empowerment may be attained through control over one’s own life, a more complete liberation also involves relinquishing control over the lives of others.

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