Document Type


Date of Award



School of Communication (SOC)

Degree Name

MA in English

First Advisor

Alexis Brooks de Vita


This Thesis is concerned with thematic similarities among the novels Chaka, Houseboy, Invisible Man, Go Tell It on the Mountain, Things Fall Apart, and Native Son. A psychoanalytic lens, focused on the Bildungshelds, answers the question, "Why do the protagonists of African descent come of age differently than do protagonists of European descent?" These psychoanalytic insights include analyzing a character's behavior, sexuality, Oedipal dynamics, struggle with identity, and the various occluded meanings of the words the author uses to describe him. Specifically, the analysis of these words may be referenced to Du Bois's Veil and the author's subconscious reason for using them. Du Bois's Veil theory is suggestive of a psychological etiology, a product of racial subjugation by those of European descent of those of African descent. The main characters in the selected texts lend themselves to a psychological interpretation through the insights of psychologists who have proposed theories of personality development. 1 2 Thematic similarities such as the search for identity and the need to exercise self determination may not and cannot suggest that African or African-American cultures are joined in a symbiotic relationship, but the roots of colonialism and systematic oppression-racism-join them. It is this Thesis's contention that the protagonists in these texts deviate from the patterns of European heroes' psychological and moral »:' .! � development primarily due to colonial oppression and racism, except in Chaka, which win serve a��a contrastingly Afrocentric hero's template of development. >..- Throughout this Thesis, I apply theories of selected developmental psychologists to the text, as they contribute to more in-depth appraisal of the protagonists: psychological theorist Jean Piaget's theory of cognitive development; Carl Jung's theory of psychological archetypes as manifest once these archetypes can be assumed to have entered the consciousness, at which point characters use them to interact with the external world; and Eric Erikson's eight stages of psychosocial development theory, which explain the protagonists' covert and overt behaviors. Additionally, I offer my original theory of Rational Blindness, a seductively inductive reasoning those of African descent find themselves using to navigate their world, a world that is controlled through racism and oppression.