AWEJ for Translation & Literary Studies, Volume 6, Number1.  February  2022                              Pp. 40-52

Race and Identity in Brit Bennett’s The Vanishing Half

Rashad Mohammed Moqbel Al Areqi

English Department, Faculty of Sciences and Arts
Al Mandaq, Al Baha University, Al Baha, KSA,


Race and identity transformation have been overarching themes in the works of African American writers. Brit Bennett’s The Vanishing Half (2020) is one fictional work that deals with identical twin sisters: Desiree and Stella Vignes. They are two light-skinned Black sisters who have chosen or rebuilt their identities based on the needs that allow them to live in peace among their communities. This study attempts to trace the importance of race and identity for the African Americans through exploring the lives of these twin sisters who leave their hometown. Through postcolonial critical concepts of identity and race, this research sheds light on the reasons behind the sisters’ decisions to keep or shed their Black identity, as well as their community’s influence on their decision to leave their hometown. This study found that the choices of race and identity the sisters made earlier in their lives identified their fate and established a path for their children. Desiree prefers to maintain her identity by marrying a Black man, and Stella sees her interest in marrying a White man and keeping her past hidden. Kennedy, Stella’s daughter with a White man, and Jude, Desiree’s daughter with a Black man, adhere to their parent’s beliefs regarding race and identity. However, Stella and Desiree still long for their origin and home, and ultimately, they gather again at home they left together.

Cite as:

Al Areqi, R. M. M. (2022).  Race and Identity in Brit Bennett’s The Vanishing Half.
Arab World English Journal for Translation & Literary Studies 6 (1) 40-52.
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.24093/awejtls/vol6no1.4


Ashcroft, B., Griffiths, G., & Tiffin, H (2007). Post-Colonial Studies: The Key Concepts (2nd ed.). London and New York: Routledge.

Baker, Jr. H., & Simmons, K. (Eds.) (2015). The Trouble with Post-Blackness. New York: Columbia University Press.

Bennett, B. (2020). The Vanishing Half. New York: Riverhead Books.

Buschendorf, C. (Ed.) (2018). Power Relations in Black Lives. Transcript Verlag, Bielefeld, USA.

Fain, K. (2015). Colson Whitehead: The Postracial Voice of Contemporary Literature. Lanham, MD:  Rowman & Littlefield.

Gray, Richard. (2015). A Brief History of American Literature. Wiley-Blackwell. The USA.

Hall, Stuart. (2017). The Fateful Triangle: Race, Ethnicity, Nation. Harvard University Press. USA.

Hirsch, Afuna. (2018). BRIT(ish) on Race, Identity, and Belonging. Penguin Random House, Uk.

Jarrett, G. (2013). A Companion to African American Literature. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell.

Lazarus, N. (2004). The Cambridge Companion to Postcolonial Literary Studies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Loomba, A. (2015), Colonialism/Postcolonialism (3rd ed.) New York: Routledge.

Morley, C. (2012). Modern American Literature. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Patton, K. (2020). The Vanishing Half: A Novel (Review). Christian Century, Riverhead.


Sidbury, J. (2015). Africa in Early African American Literature. New York: Routledge.

Taylor, P.C. (2007). Post-Black, Old Black. African American Review, 41, (4), 626-640.

Tyson, L. (2015). Critical Theory Today (3rd ed.). New York: Routledge.

Young, R. (2003). Post-colonialism: A Very Short Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press.


Rashad Mohammed Moqbel Al Areqi is an associate Prof. of English Literature at Al Baha University. He got his PhD. Degree in English Literature in 2008, Putra University, Malaysia. He studied an intensive course in Contemporary American Literature, University of Louisville, Kentucky, USA. Recently, Dr. Rashad is teaching Literature courses at Al-Baha University. He has published many articles in international journals. ORCID ID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3055-7104