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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International license (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)


When trauma’s genesis is in societal racism or the patriarchal power structure, it can leach its way into our intimate family relationships. Those damaged relationships can in turn create a profound loss or division within the self, as Freud explains in “Mourning and Melancholia.” The trauma victim has lost what a parent or family should be and the security that comes with feeling accepted and loved. If trauma begins with systemic racism and sexism and gets passed down intergenerationally, what is its effect on a black female child’s identity? Is this trauma survivable? What is necessary to recover? My thesis will explore these questions in Morrison’s The Bluest Eye and Edwidge Danticat’s Breath, Eyes Memory. It will explore how intergenerational trauma forms, the destruction that it can have on families and on personal identity, and how confronting and processing these traumas can allow one to start on a path to recovery.