Psychoanalytical Tensions of Problematic Mother-Daughter Relationship in Jamaica Kincaid’s My Brother

Roohollah Reesi Sistani, Masoumeh Mehni


Reading and analyzing Jamaica Kincaid’s My Brother through the lens of Julia Kristeva’s concept of abjection theory, a psychoanalytical theory, this paper provides a study which concentrates on the problematic relationship of Kincaid and her mother as the result of a mutual abjection between them. In this study Kincaid, the protagonist and her mother abject each other. Kincaid’s mother abjection comes as a result of getting pregnant for the second time and her failure in aborting the baby and Kincaid’s abjection initially stems from being abandoned by her mother after she gives birth to the Kincaid’s first step brother. This study presents a reading which attempts to explain why the relationship between Kincaid and her mother is problematic, what the effects of the abjection in their lives are, and what the overall consequences of this problematic relationship are. The paper concludes that the problematic relationship between Kincaid and her mother remains unresolved. They try but never succeed in establishing a healthy set of relationships with each other. Kincaid tries to cure herself from the symptoms of the problematic relationships with her mother by immigrating to USA and writing but she is not successful.

Key words: Jamaica Kincaid; Psychoanalysis; Abjection theory; Julia Kristeva; My Brother


Jamaica Kincaid; Psychoanalysis; Abjection theory; Julia Kristeva; My Brother


Alexander, S. A. J. (2001). Mother Imagery in the Novels of Afro-Caribbean Women. Columbia and London: University of Missouri Press, Print.

Brooks, K. D. (2008). The Black Maternal: Heterogeneity and Resistance in Literary Representations of Black Mothers in 20th Century African American and Afro-Caribbean Women’s Fiction. Chapel: University of North Carolina.

Kincaid, J. (1997). My Brother. Farrar, Straus and Giroux: New York, Print.

Kisteva, J. (1982). Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection. New York: Columbia University Press.

McAfee, N. & Kristeva J. (2004). My Brother. New York and London: Routledge, Print.

Nihira, M. A. Understanding Pregnancy Discomforts - Symptoms. Retrived from, 28 October 2010,



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