The essay "In Search of Our Mother's Gardens" by contemporary American novelist Alice Walker is one that, like a flashbulb, burns an afterimage in my mind. It is an essay primarily written to inform the reader about the history of African American women in America and how their vibrant, creative spirit managed to survive in a dismal world filled with many oppressive hardships. This piece can be read, understood, and manage to conjure up many emotions within the hearts and minds of just about any audience that reads it. However, Walker targets African American women in today's society in an effort to make them understand their heritage and appreciate what their mothers and grandmothers endured to preserve it.
Throughout the essay, Walker paints many disturbing pictures to get the point across to the reader that African American women in the past were unbelievably strong individuals. They were so oppressed in life that even as artistically talented as they were, they were not allowed to express that talent and allow their creative spark to flourish. In the opening paragraph, Walker discusses black women who "stumbled blindly through their lives: creatures so abused and mutilated in body, so dimmed and confused by pain, that they considered themselves unworthy even of hope" (p 694). Walker explains the labeling of these women as "Saints." "Instead of being perceived as whole persons, their bodies became shrines: what was thought to be their minds became temples suitable for worship"(p 695). In other words, these "Saintly" women were geniuses with no outlet for their creative spirit; "they were Creators, who lived lives of spiritual waste, because they were so rich in spirituality- which is the basis of Art- that the strain of enduring their unused and unwanted talent drove them insane" (p 695). This passage is where the first evidence that Walker is targeting black women comes in. She asks, "Who were these Saints?"... [continues]
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