In novels by Caribbean women writers, illness is often a rite of passage, a turning point in the protagonist’s life, and the central structuring device of the novel. Illness as metaphor can be used to interrogate power structures and unmask injustice. According to Michel Foucault, the highest duty of the intellectual ‘is to criticize the working of institutions’ in order to unmask the political violence that operates obscurely through them ‘so that one can fight them’ (qtd in Rabinow, 6). Illness facilitates this process by forcing characters to tap their inner reservoirs of strength and creative expression through the recovery of their personal past and their cultural history.
Wilson, Lucy, Illness and Insight: Virginia Woolf and Caribbean Women Writers vs. Western Medicine, Kunapipi, 31(2), 2009.