The Stereotypical Representation of Black Women in Caryl Phillips’ "Cambridge"

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The antebellum popular culture in America established negative images of black women that served the patriarchal system to degrade the black female according to race, class, and gender. These images assisted the dominant group in the subordination of black women. The negative images of black women were confirmed and generalized to black women all around the world; they effectually participated in black women’s invisibility and silence. Today, black women suffer the misrecognition of others as the society around them perceives them with those old contemptible images. Contemporary Kittitian-British writer Caryl Phillips’s novel “Cambridge” discusses slavery and marginalization generally, yet it also points to vital issues about the black female more specifically. The book displays the dominant group’s interest in maintaining black women’s subordination. Three stereotypical images are the core discussion of this research—the “mammy,” the “jezebel,” and the “mule.” Phillips borrows these images purposely not to promote them, but to refute them and correct wrong misconceptions about the black women’s humanity and sexuality.