Character Analysis In Helen Oyemi's The Icarus Girl

2387 Words10 Pages
Helen Oyeyemi’s The Icarus Girl engages with many questions within the diasporic dialogue and the writer asserts the position she takes with all issues she deals with. She, like many, sees that there are many things pulling apart the ideas of Englishness and Nigerian-ness but at the same time, there are things that fuse them together in people that live both those identities at the same time. Jess is the person she uses to establish this unsteady union and at the end, this young girl who begins her journey with a fragmented identity, emerges in a higher consciousness where she unifies both identities into one within herself. One of the main themes in the novel is twinning. There are any twins in and out of the space of the novel. Outside the…show more content…
The splitting of Jess between her Nigerian and her English identity is much like that of Oyeyemi’s in her use of Jess and Fern. W E Du Bois says that double consciousness or split identity can “result in either an enriched, amplified sense of self or else in a schizophrenic, thwarted identity” (Cuder-Domínguez, 2009, p. 5) Jess chooses the latter and splits her two national identities into two people because, before she has been to Nigeria she has never had to be Wuraola. Even though she has been traditionally named Wuraola and knows that that is her name and not someone else’s, she still feels as if answering to that name would be stealing the identity of someone else, someone who belonged there, someone who is not Jess. Before she had been to Nigeria, Jess had never had to confront her Nigerian side because she had never been identified as such. Her Nigerian side was present but silently so; much like the absence of Fern. In that moment when she is wondering whether or not to answer to the name, she feels that “Jess” does not belong in Nigeria in the way that Wuraola might; and so she answers to the name, thus creating or awakening her dormant Nigerian twin. But it is important to note that this twin is not part of the self that is Jess but a separate entity for Jess to be when she is in this space because “Jess” does not belong or fit in this space. “Being in Nigeria awakens her to her double nature, and at the same time increases her feelings of isolation and unbelonging” (Cuder-Domínguez, 2009, p. 7). Jess is on a journey to find herself and figure out how she fits as a half-and-half person in this world and “no one can guide her in this process. The one person who could, her mother Sarah is also caught between two cultures” (Lundell, 2010, p.
Open Document