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Fear and Desire: Regional Aesthetics and Colonial Desire in Kate Chopin's Portrayals of the Tragic Mulatta Stereotype

Fear and Desire: Regional Aesthetics and Colonial Desire in Kate Chopin's Portrayals of the... Fear and Desire: Regional Aesthetics and Colonial Desire in Kate Chopin's Portrayals of the Tragic Mulatta Stereotype by Dagmar Pegues The interrogation of the category of race in Kate Chopin's fiction represents an essential dimension of regional aesthetics, and it offers an alternative view to previous interpretations that focus primarily on feminist themes. This article examines the role of Louisiana as a specific region in the construction of the tragic mulatta stereotype in the fiction of Kate Chopin, primarily in her stories "Désirée's Baby" and "La Belle Zoraïde," and by analogy in her most successful novel The Awakening. I propose to extricate Chopin's work from the virgin/whore dichotomy so often applied to white and non-white characters respectively.1 From a new perspective, an illumination of the portrayals of the tragic mulatta figure in Chopin's texts invites a reconsideration of the stereotype of the tragic mulatta that typically oscillates between evocations of the exotic and the sentimental. Attempting to reclaim the category of race in regionalist fiction by examining the tragic mulatta stereotype in the selected texts, I see parallels between this pervasive image of southern local color fiction and the post-colonial paradigm, i.e. the dichotomy of the colonizer versus http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Southern Literary Journal University of North Carolina Press

Fear and Desire: Regional Aesthetics and Colonial Desire in Kate Chopin's Portrayals of the Tragic Mulatta Stereotype

The Southern Literary Journal , Volume 43 (1) – Mar 16, 2010

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
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Copyright © University of North Carolina Press
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1534-1461
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Abstract

Fear and Desire: Regional Aesthetics and Colonial Desire in Kate Chopin's Portrayals of the Tragic Mulatta Stereotype by Dagmar Pegues The interrogation of the category of race in Kate Chopin's fiction represents an essential dimension of regional aesthetics, and it offers an alternative view to previous interpretations that focus primarily on feminist themes. This article examines the role of Louisiana as a specific region in the construction of the tragic mulatta stereotype in the fiction of Kate Chopin, primarily in her stories "Désirée's Baby" and "La Belle Zoraïde," and by analogy in her most successful novel The Awakening. I propose to extricate Chopin's work from the virgin/whore dichotomy so often applied to white and non-white characters respectively.1 From a new perspective, an illumination of the portrayals of the tragic mulatta figure in Chopin's texts invites a reconsideration of the stereotype of the tragic mulatta that typically oscillates between evocations of the exotic and the sentimental. Attempting to reclaim the category of race in regionalist fiction by examining the tragic mulatta stereotype in the selected texts, I see parallels between this pervasive image of southern local color fiction and the post-colonial paradigm, i.e. the dichotomy of the colonizer versus

Journal

The Southern Literary JournalUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Mar 16, 2010

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