Eva Medina Canada

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Gayl Jones (b. 1949)


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Narrates Gayl Jones's Eva's Man (1976). Simultaneously drawn to and repelled by men, she has experienced a series of abusive sexual encounters from an early age, beginning with her unwilling submission to a little boy's probing with a dirty Popsicle stick. Her mother's lover tries to molest her, her cousin tries to seduce her, and she briefly marries an older man who virtually imprisons her out of jealousy. Believing the stories of her mother's friend, Miss Billie, who maintains that women cannot control their own bodies and men cannot control their responses to women, Eva is generally fatalistic and passive, but she does stab a man who grabs her. This eruption of long-suppressed violence foreshadows the crime that culminates in her madness: poisoning then orally castrating her lover.

Eva is identified with three mythical women whose hold on men proves fatal: Eedusa, Eve(in Eva's case, the forbidden fruit of knowledge and power is the penis), and a local figure called the Queen Bee. While the Queen Bee believes her love to be deadly for any man and eventually commits suicide to spare her lover, Eva enacts her own version of the Queen Bee's story. Locked in a prison asylum, refusing to explain her motives to anyone—including the reader—Eva weaves her increasingly disjointed narrative out of interrogations, visions, and memories. Through her, Jones dramatizes a woman trapped by the pernicious stereotypes of black women's sexuality.

Keith Byerman, Fingering the Jagged Grain: Tradition and Form in Recent Black Fiction, 1985.Sally Robinson, Engendering the Subject: Gender and Self-Representation in Contemporary Women's Fiction, 1991.

Amy S. Gottfried

Subjects: Literature.

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