Documentation of the presence and purpose of cloth as metaphor, structure and object in
Yvonne Vera's fiction illuminates the innovations present in the author's published fiction.
Vera's confrontation of the often silenced experiences of rape, incest, abortion and infanticide
explain the author's commitment to the exploration of alternative narrative strategies. The
structure of the thesis finds inspiration in the embroidery sampler, a piece of stitched cloth
onto which many different styles of stitches are tested but is nonetheless whole. In this
research the production and consumption of cloth is understood to represent a domestic
graphology, a term coined by Vera in her own Ph.D. which refers to communication that goes
unnoticed by conventional discourse because of the domestic and therefore seemingly
inconsequential materials appropriated to convey information. After contextualizing Vera's
fiction through brief comparisons to Dambudzo Marechera, Tsitsi Dangarembga and
Chenjerai Hove, research turns to the skin and hair of characters and observes that it is treated
much like cloth in order to expose the extent of alienation caused by racism. The inverse of
this idea, the notion that clothing is in fact a "second skin" reveals the economic hardships of
Vera's settings and the hopeless optimism offered by the opportunity to purchase or exchange'
one skin for another. Characters relate to the spaces they inhabit with a fragmented sense of
the world around them. This fragmentation can be understood through Gilles Deleuze and
Felix Guattari's notion of smooth space (felted cloth) and striated space (woven cloth) and is
helpful in understanding the extent of the damage caused by mental and physical pain.
Finally Vera's texts contain fragments of an unassembled quilt which rejects the possibility
ofrepair due to the nature of the crimes recorded upon the various remnants of cloth scattered
throughout the texts. Apparent throughout Vera's fiction is a theme of empowering violence
which results in a systematic rejection of motherhood for her female characters. Motherhood
as a creative act is replaced by a heightened awareness of the creative value of cloth.
Throughout the texts, textiles assist in the process of exposure, mourning, and recovery from
the damning experiences Vera's characters endure.