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Audre Lorde's autobiographical novel Zami: A New Spelling of my Name, explores common coming-of-age themes such as: the struggle and search for authentic identity, separation from one's parents and native culture, and the fears and anxieties associated with exploring the world as a young adult. In addition however, Zami also addresses head-on themes of race and sexuality. Zami is a fictionalized memoir that narrates Lorde's coming-of-age as an African-American lesbian poet.
One central idea in the text is the notion of autonomy. The women with whom Lorde comes into contact all seem to obey certain archetypes. Kitty, for example —a young black gay woman whom Lorde met early in life — presents herself as shy, dainty, and sensitive; almost girlish. However, later in life, Kitty develops more autonomy. She learns to deconstruct the various archetypes of femininity and to choose what kind of woman she wishes to be. As a symbol and a consequence of this mature, developed sense of autonomy, Kitty renames herself Afrekete, after an ancient deity of female power and sexuality. Similarly, Lorde takes on the name "Zami"; a name which carries its own mythos and history.
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