Filling the Void
Portraits of the Female-Father in George Lamming’s In the Castle of My Skin and Season of Adventure
While George Lamming portrays paternal identity, alienation and exile as
thematic preoccupations of In the Castle of my Skin and Season of Adventure,
father absence remains a major concern in his artistic depictions of fatherhood in
these narratives. The phenomenon of father absence creates a void which the
mother must additionally fill, and the presence of this void provokes as well as
fosters androgyny. Androgyny is the state of having traits of both genders and
refers to the opposites within. Thus, the two texts bring the notion of the synthesis
of the masculine and feminine principles in the human psyche fully to the fore.
The key mother characters in both novels exhibit the image of Carl Jungs
Father Archetype which is categorised as stern, powerful and controlling.
Reading these mother characters as female fathers forces the attention from
them as women and mothers, hence, radically unsettling the conventional notion
of who a father is. Using Jungs psychoanalytic concept of anima/animus as
framing and analytical tools, this paper challenges the stereotypical portrait of
the hegemonic male parent and furnishes an option for a re-envisioning of
masculinity and fatherhood in the context of parental authority, role performance
and conduct. It construes, arguably, that the abilities of the mother characters to
bear and rear children, cross gender role boundaries and compensate for their
offspring's absent fathers, are irrefutable. In this way, both novels do not just
recommend themselves as masculinist texts, but they also show how the mother
characters qualify as fathers, albeit, female fathers.