Womanism and Women in Alice Walker’s The Temple of My Familiar
African-American women have been inappropriately and unduly, stereotyped in various contrasting images as slaves post-slavery, wet nurses, super women, domestic helpers, mammies, matriarchs, jezebels, hoochies, welfare recipients, and hot bodies which discloses their repression in the United States of America. They have been showcased by both black men and white women in different ways quite contrary to their being in America. Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Gloria Naylor, Gayl Jones, Paule Marshall, Sonia Sanchez, Toni Cade Bambara, to name a few writers, have put forth the condition of black women through their works. They have shown the personality of many a black women hidden behind the veils of racism, sexism, classism and systemic oppression of different sorts. Walker coined the term Womanism in her 1984 collection of essays titled In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens: Womanist Prose. Womanism advocates consensus for black women starting with gender and proceeding over to race, ethnicity and class, with a universal outlook. Womanism offers a positive self-definition of the black woman’s self within gendered, historical, geographical, ethnic, racial and cultural contexts too. Walker’s novel The Temple of My Familiar 1989 is a womanist treatise putting forth the importance of womanist consciousness and womanist spirit. The novel is a tribute to the strength, endurance and vitality of black womanhood. The novel revolves around three pairs of characters and their lives to showcase the lives of African Americans and coloured population in America. The three couples namely Suwelo and Fanny, Arveyda and Carlotta, Lissie and Hal showcased in the novel, belong to different age groups and different, mixed ethnicities. Through them, Walker depicts the lives of marginalized population in America, and the umpteen trials they face for being who they are. Furthermore, this paper showcases how Womanism as a theory can really enliven the life of the black community, especially black women when put into practice.
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