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Abstract

So much of postcolonial literature is about creating and revealing identities of places that were once conquered and branded to mimic their conquerors. This essay takes a unique look at just such a quest in Derek Walcott’s Omeros, as it explores the connection between Greek mythology and forming a postcolonial identity in St. Lucia. In this essay, I argue that Walcott blends native culture and classic myth, focused around the abundant use of the word “foam,” which appears forty-two times in the text. Foam’s etiology in Greek mythology is explained as the semen flowing from the castrated genitals of Ouranos, which then mixed with the ocean to give birth to Aphrodite, the goddess of love. Revealing his own Western education and appreciation of Greek mythology, which is shared by St. Lucia’s history due to French and British influence, Walcott uses foam in many ways to represent not only the birth of Aphrodite, but also the birth of a new island identity, in order to help St. Lucia discover and create its own past. This results in the island and the people on it being able to have a secure sense of self in the present and future. Through metafictional narration techniques, allusions to Greek mythology, especially Homer, and Achille’s time traveling exploration of his roots and culture, as well as the acceptance of his own past, Walcott paves the way for reconciliation with the island’s turbulent and complicated past in creating his own Homer-like poetic myth that can become a foundational part of St. Lucia’s postcolonial identity.

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