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As an epigraph to the section entitled LAVEacute TEcircTE the third section of her novel Praisesong for the Widow Paule Marshall uses a brief quotation from a poem by Randall Jarrell Oh Bars of my body open open 148 It is in this section that Avey Johnson the novels protagonist becomes aware of her body as a repository of memory as a place where physical sensation echoes emotional feeling This awareness is pivotal in Aveys progress from a state of denial to acceptance of her heritage This essay aims to explore Marshalls construction of a fictional body as a site of cultural expression and memory Aveys body communicates to her what she has taught her conscious mind to ignore her disconnection from her own sense of herself and from the African-American and Caribbean heritage which is a crucial part of that self Through the processes of extreme physical discomfort illness purging healing bathing and dancing Avey is able to make an emotional journey that restores her awareness of her cultural inheritance This paper aims to examine the way the body functions in the text not only as an indicator of personal consciousness but also as a metaphor for African peoples cultural disinheritance created by the African diaspora It also aims to draw attention to the disparity presented in the novel between acknowledging the body as an avenue of expression and yet wanting to escape its limitations This essay will inform the reader of the great Journey Avey will embark upon to recapture who is and where she is from I feel however that the novel portrays Aveys emotional and physical rebirth as also a way of raising important questions about the cultural identity of African and Caribbean Americans It is disconcerting to suggest that it is possible to return to from an unmediated state of being then to a Tabula Rasa of mind and body where the
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