This thesis is a comparison of four different novels by four different authors: Nella Larsen s Passing (1929), Zora Neale Hurston s Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937), Toni Morrison s Sula (1973), and Alice Walker s The Color Purple (1982). These novels are all written by and about African American women in the twentieth century. Central to my thesis is "signifying", a concept related to intertextuality, which is used in a theory of African American literature put forward by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. I look at how signifying is used as theme, motif, and narrative technique, and how the novels can be said to signify upon each other. The novels present a new female image which breaks with conventional images of women in general and African American women in particular. The main focus for this thesis is how the rebelling black woman is represented in African American women s literature. Whereas there might be several strong women in these novels, I will concentrate mainly on one type. This type resembles the femme fatale, the deadly woman most commonly associated with European or Western late nineteenth century art and the film noir genre of the late 1940s. My claim is that all these novels revise, rewrite, and signify upon the femme fatale image. Challenging norms and stereotypes, breaking out from oppressive structures in society, finding a voice of one's own, and self/other relationships are central themes in this study.