Issues Facing Blacks in Alice Walker's In Search of our Mother's Gardens
In Alice Walker's book, In Search Of Our Mother's Gardens, she addresses many issues facing blacks in today's society. The two essays examined here, "The Black Writer and the Southern Experience" and "The Unglamorous But Worthwhile Duties Of the Black Revolutionary Artist Or Of the Black Writer Who Simply Works and Writes," concern themselves with the truth and beauty of being a black Southern writer and the role of the revolutionary black artist, respectively.
The first essay, "The Black Writer and the Southern Experience," is concerned with the truth of the South, primarily in the era beginning with the Jim Crow laws and coming up to the present. Walker speaks of some of the incidents that happened in the South and that even though these are shameful events, there is a beauty to be found in them. In one anecdote, she recalls a time in which her mother was to redeem a voucher for flour from the Red Cross. When the Red Cross woman looked at her in the clothes sent to her by an aunt from the North, all she could remark on was the gall of those "niggers" who come to beg, wearing nicer clothes than her. While this can be seen as an ugly, embarrassing scene, Walker sees the beauty in the fact that this scene did not keep her from feeding her family. Walker states, " I am nostalgic for the solidarity and sharing a modest existence can sometimes bring" (17). By this statement she speaks of the way in which the community of neighbors joined together to take care of each other. This is one of the truths of the South.
Walker also speaks of another truth. This truth is one of no universals, as far as people go. Some of the same people that preach...
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....should be hated...However, there are some men who should be loved" (137).
I am in agreement with Walker in this essay also. The way in which Walker relates her ideas is one of directness. Her view of the world as a whole does not seem to concentrate on the victim mentality or of the evil of white as seems the prevailing opinion of some black writers of the day. There exists a positivism in her writing that is to be applauded. Walker states, "It is the duty of the artist to present the man as he is" (137) and it is this commitment to honesty that makes her a great writer.
Based on the reading of the essays, I would characterize her as a conservative womanist. Her views and the ways in which she wishes to instigate change are not too radical as to be mistaken as anti-society or as anti-white. Walker realizes, as everyone should, change takes time.
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