Reconstruction of Black Identity in All Aunt Hagar’s Children

Lanyu Li


All Aunt Hagar’s Children, the latest work of Edward P. Jones, profoundly reflects the ordinary lives of the African Americans in Washington D.C. during the 20th century. It comprises 14 short stories which are the minified versions of long novels with a legion of characters. This paper attempts to examine the self-identity crises of these characters in the perspective of the identity theory of Erik. H. Erikson and Anthony Giddens. All black characters in this novel collection encounter the predicament about their self-identity. They are discriminated and marginalized by the dominated white society in Washington in which they make great efforts to assimilate into only to find disappointment. They are faced with the racial identity crises when abandoning their traditional black values and refusing to track their own history. Furthermore, Black women are in the lower position with much more oppression, deprived of the rights from the patriarchy. Through detailed interpretation, this thesis reveals three essential resolutions to save these lost black from identity crisis.



All Aunt Hagar’s Children; Self-identity crisis; African Americans; gender

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Erikson, E. H. (1963). Childhood and society. New York: W. W. Norton & Co Inc.

Erikson, E. H. (1968). Identity: Youth and crisis. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.

Giddens, A. (1991). Modernity and self-identity: Self and society in the late modern age. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Giddens, A. (1990). The consequences of modernity. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Graham, M., & Jones, E. P. (2008). An interview with Edward P. Jones. African American Review.

Jones, E. P. (2008). In the name of mother. Essence, 36(8).

Jones, E. P. (2006). All Aunt Hagar’s children. New York: HarperCollins.



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