chapter  15
8 Pages

Child Abuse or Conflict of Interest? Maryse Conde’s Autobiographical Writings

WithHal Wylie

Maryse Conde goes beyond de Beauvoir in demystifying the politics of mothering. The development of the fictional character Thecla comes at a pivotal moment in Conde's life and may have facilitated the transition from Africa and Europe back to the Americas. What Conde focuses on is her mother's insecurity and defensiveness bordering on paranoia. She describes the family as feeling constantly under siege, having to project an image of perfection to the outer world in order to live up to their conception of French standards. Conde has experienced both sides of the equation and identifies both with the abused child and the stressed mother in a context where colonialism and Frantz Fanon's "black skin white mask" complex add psychological alienation to an already difficult situation. Several of the most important mothers in Conde's novels reject the child whose resemblance to the hated father makes them incapable of loving her or him.