The representation of women in Lauretta Ngcobo's And they didn't die
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Lauretta Ngcobo’s And They Didn’t Die depicts the lives of rural African women who lived under apartheid rule in KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa in the 1950s and 1960s. The dissertation examines Ngcobo’s representation of African women’s participation and their agency in the resistance struggles against colonialism, settler colonialism (apartheid), racial supremacy, African patriarchy, and literary and the dominant language systems. The primary method of analysis involves an examination of the novel which is located in the political context of the resistance struggles, the social context of patriarchy and the theoretical context of postcolonial African feminist criticism. By drawing on a range of feminist theories, the dissertation examines the specificity of African women’s lives in terms of race, class and gender roles. The dissertation will also examine the different strategies that women have used to survive and to resist race, class and gender oppressions. Ngcobo’s novel provides an apposite framework to explore women’s experiences of subordination and how they challenged and even overcame the political and social forces that worked against them. Women’s agency in the liberation struggle has been largely ignored and undocumented in literary and even in many feminist projects, which leaves an under-researched gap in African literary studies. The dissertation examines Ngcobo’s work as a literary activist articulating the challenges of representation and voice. Representation is understood to mean speaking or acting for oneself and/or others, while voice is the capacity to speak. It is the key issue reflecting empowerment and agency. These concepts form the basis for analysis and the construction of arguments. It is used to examine the challenges faced by women who have been marginalized in literary discourse, as women and writers.