A comparative analysis of the defence mechanisms and strategies of selected individual characters in coping with racism: the case of meridian and the tongue of the dumb.
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The purpose of this study was to investigate, compare and contrast the defence mechanisms and strategies used by selected individual characters to cope with racism in Alice Walker’s novel Meridian and Dominic Mulaisho’s The Tongue of the Dumb. The study also sought to establish the significance of the mechanisms and strategies employed in coping with racism with the ego defence mechanism theory of psychoanalysis and the stress and coping strategies theory constituting the theoretical framework. The study endeavoured to identify and analyse; characters that experience and witness racism in the two texts, the defence mechanisms and coping strategies used by the characters and the differences and similarities in the mechanisms and strategies used. The research was qualitative in nature thus it employed a descriptive research design, explanations and interpretations of data were outlined upon analysing racist cases, instances, and experiences, defence mechanisms and coping strategies in Meridian and The Tongue of the Dumb. Findings were that the selected characters; Lubinda and Meridian, employ similar defence mechanisms at times which are; humour, sublimation, passive aggression and affiliation. The notable differences are that Lubinda also uses identification with the aggressor while Meridian employs altruism, regression, dissociation and reactive formation. Further, both use emotion focused and avoidance focused strategies though Meridian distinguishes herself from Lubinda as she also utilises problem focused strategies. The findings show that defence mechanisms and coping strategies are crucial in coping with unpleasant or negative states, feelings and situations. The mechanisms and strategies help the two characters to avoid, reduce, overcome, challenge and deal with racial prejudice and antagonism thus the significance of defence mechanisms and coping strategies is manifest. The differences and similarities demonstrate that defence mechanisms are general, applicable to daily challenges and that coping is a fluid process and cardinal process.
University of Zambia