Alice Walker is an African American essayist, novelist and poet. She is described as a black feminist.(Ten on Ten) Alice Walker tries to incorporate the concepts of her heritage that are absent into her essays; such things as how women should be independent and find their special talent or art to make their life better. Throughout Walkers essay entitled In Search of Our Mothers Gardens, I determined there were three factors that aided Walker gain the concepts of her heritage which are through artistic ability, her foremothers and artistic models.
In Search of Our Mothers Gardens touches mainly upon family heritage and the way her heritage was created. In Atwans Ten on Ten, you will find the essay on the Mothers Gardens. On page 83 it states, For they were going nowhere immediate, and the future was not yet within their grasp. This quote signifies how mothers and grandmothers would always be set serving the men in their lives; for their entire lives, however, there was a different future, a plan that they didnt see yet. This plan was for them to identify their artistic ability, whether if it was through singing, writing or making quilts.
Throughout the essay, In Search of Our Mothers Gardens,Alice Walkers mentions her foremothers. Women like Jean Toomer, Phillis Wheatley and Zora Neale Hurtson, who were all either poets or writers. Mike Fike has also recognized this tactic of Walkers by stating, Walker engages in a wholistic act of completion by seeking connections with literary foremothers(Fike 3). Walker takes into account through her fellow foremothers the different issues that they dealt with and tried to expand and include the concepts of independence that appear to be absent in her mind. In the African American Review, Woodard states a similar concept, indicates how Hurston serves as a model, as Walker formulates, revises, and offers a critique (Woodard 170).
As Walker uses Hurston as a role model, she develops that idea into her essay as to why every African American woman should have a model, whether through art or heritage. In Donna Haisty Winchells book on Alice Walker, Winchell also explains how Walker tries to find the models that African American women should encounter. Walker characterizes, the absence of models, in literature as in life as an occupational hazard for the artist, simply because models in art, in behavior, in growth of spirit and intellect- even if rejected- enrich and enlarge ones view of existence(14). This is directly from In Search of Our Mothers Gardens It clearly states that Walker thinks it is important to have artistic models so that women can start their independence and their talent. Winchell also states in her analysis that Walkers anger at being deprived of appropriate models comes out in one of her most famous essays In Search of Our Mothers Gardens (15).
Towards the end of Walkers essay, she states, Guided by my heritage of a love of beauty and a respect for strength- in search of my mothers garden, I found my own(89). This ending paragraph meant that Walker had found her own artistic ability through writing my novels, essays and poems and made a life of her own. In searching for the role models in her life, in seeking out her foremothers and in taking a chance on her own artistic ability she realizes her own worth and her own potential. It is this message, the concepts of her heritage that are absent, that Walker tries to reveal to her audience, especially the African American woman.
1.Winchell, Donna. Alice Walker. Twayne Publishers: New York, 1992.
2.Loretta G. Woodward. Alice Walker. African American Review; Terre Haute.
Vol. 3, Spring 2003: 170-171.
3.Fike, Matthew. Jean Toomer and Okot pBitek in Alice Walkers In Search of
Our Mothers Gardens Critical Essay. Fall-Winter 2000. p. 2-3. December 6, 2004.
4.Walker, Alice. In Search of Our Mothers Gardens. Ten on Ten. Atwan, Robert.
New York: St. Martins Press, 1992. 82-90.