Date of Award

12-2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Advisor

Veronica Watson, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Mike Sell, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Todd Thompson, Ph.D.

Abstract

The concept of double consciousness may prompt people to think of how W.E.B. Du Bois used it in his discussion of the African American’s divided psyche as a response to American racism. However, However, Toni Morrison (1992) acknowledged the value of the scholarship on the effects of racism on the servant’s mind, but she urged scholars to also engage in an exercise of that would help theorize what racism does to the mind of the master. This dissertation is a part of the current conversation on white double consciousness, which examines white people’s responses to racial injustice they do not suffer, but which taxes the minds of the many. Through the analysis of Lillian Smith’s Strange Fruit, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, and Geraldine Brooks’s March, it makes the case that these novels depict white psychological responses to racial injustice. The novels’ white characters reveal a range of mixed responses to racial injustice; they embody both hypocritical attitudes and genuine concern for racial injustice. Whiteness plays an important role in shaping the characters’ psychological responses to racism. White double consciousness is not a monolithic response, but a set of ambiguous/mixed attitudes and responses to racial injustice. These responses fall into three major aspects: 1) conflict between public and private image as a result of power relation between the individual and the group; 2) professed moral values or good intentions coupled with an accommodation of racial injustice; and 3) sustained genuine struggle for righteousness, which is hindered by nostalgia for status quo. Overall the analysis shows that white double consciousness is an enduring, though under-theorized psychology of whiteness.

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