Exploring the Nature of the Dialogical Self: The Young Widow Memoir

Katrin Den Elzen


This paper intends to contribute to the ongoing debate on identity construction by offering a textual analysis of two memoirs that depict the experience of young widowhood: Unremarried Widow by Artis Henderson (2014) and When it Rains by Maggie MacKellar (2010). I refer to the texts as young widow memoirs and identify them as a sub-genre of the grief memoir. Drawing on Paul Eakin’s concept of narrative identity and Hubert Hermans’ dialogical self theory, the analysis investigates how the memoirists use narrative to negotiate and represent the multiple subject positions and conflicting voices that arise out of the experience of young widowhood, and how they position selves which existed prior to their loss in relation to their post-loss selves. The memoirs under review are shown to rebuild a relatively stable sense of self out of the multiple voices of loss.




This article was based on a paper presented during the IABA-Europe Conference in 2015. The article was submitted on August 25th and published on April 13th 2017.


Grief, memoir, identity, young widowhood

Full Text:


DOI: https://doi.org/10.5463/ejlw.6.223


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2017 Katrin Den Elzen

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

European Journal of Life Writing - ISSN 1876-8156 - is an open access initiative supported by the VU University Library.