2007 Student Research Conference:
20th Annual Student Research Conference

Language & Literature

Oppositions Guide the Representation of Madness in Bessie Head’s A Question of Power
Jessica R. Lufkin
Dr. Hena Ahmad, Faculty Mentor

In the semi-autobiographical novel A Question of Power (1974) by Bessie Head, Elizabeth, the protagonist, is living as a refugee from South Africa in Botswana. Elizabeth experiences isolation and feelings of rejection, which lead to extreme mental discord. In her episodes of insanity, hallucinations make it impossible for her to distinguish between dreams and reality. Throughout the text, everything that Elizabeth encounters is presented to her in binary opposition. Lightness and darkness, particularly as seen in references to skin color, highlight the difference between good and evil, or her continual shift in and out of reality. This paper will examine the perpetual alterations in Elizabeth's environment and cognitive thoughts, which display the extreme effects of her oppressed social situation on her psychological stability.

Keywords: Bessie Head, Madness, South Africa, Exile, Botswana


Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 10-5
Location: VH 1232
Time: 9:15 am

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