Year of Award


Document Type

Professional Paper

Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

Modern Languages and Literature (French Option)

Department or School/College

Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures

Committee Chair

Benedicte Boisseron

Commitee Members

Christopher Anderson, Naomi Shin


colonization, mascarade, slavery, white mask


University of Montana


Calixthe Beyala proves to be one of, if not the most creative writer within Francophone literature. She is also one of the most controversial. Following the publication of her best-selling novel Le Petit Prince de Belleville in 1992, she was accused of plagiarism. Despite this fact, she remains an influential author. Born and raised in Cameroon, Beyala immigrated to France at the age of seventeen. She published her first novel, C’est le soleil qui m’a brûlée, at the age of twenty-three and is now the author of more than fifteen novels. Her stories discuss the difficulties encountered by most African men and women upon arriving in France. Their dreams of freedom and integration to the French culture are often shattered by the reality of racism, poverty and prostitution. In all her works, Beyala uses a recurring character, a strong and independent African woman, who is forced to prostitute herself. Crucial elements in Calixthe Beyala’s writing of the Parisian world of prostitution are the dynamics of race, gender and history between the black/ African female and the white/ French male. Using Jean Baudrillard’s idea of mascarade and simulacra, along with Frantz Fanon’s concept of the white mask, this essay shows that the prostitute in Beyala’s novels exists behind a façade created for her by the history of colonization and slavery. The intensity and weight of the white colonizer’s gaze have never faded and, as Beyala demonstrates in her novels, they have intensified to the point where the gaze absolutely controls interracial relationships. Using Albert Memmi’s Portrait du colonisé, this paper also explores the exiled African man’s psyche and compares it to the African woman’s. While Calixthe Beyala describes the former as a victim of the white mask, the latter appears to be seeing through the eyes of the mask. In doing so, the African woman is able to fight for her future as well as the future of Africa.



© Copyright 2007 Claire Angelique Mouflard