Possessing the Secret of Joy Summary
The central themes in Possessing the Secret of Joy fit together like a reasoned argument. Established first is a concern central to all of Walker's work: the subjugation of women. In this novel the focus is specifically on how ritualized female circumcision denigrates women's bodies, minds, and spirits.
The cataloguing of circumcision's horrific effects begins with the moving opening scene of Tashi as a young girl crying soundlessly among adults for her dead sister, the victim of a botched mutilation. Because of the powerful taboo against acknowledging the practice, no one shows any emotion or offers to comfort the little girl.
Later, Tashi herself undergoes the ritual to identify with the Olinka people, whose freedom fighters, in throwing off the yoke of imperialism, seek social cohesiveness by encouraging tribal traditions. Tashi finds the ritual serves to strengthen patriarchal power at her heavy expense. Urination takes her three quarters of...
(read more from the Short Guide)
The Possessing the Secret of Joy Study Pack contains:
Possessing the Secret of Joy Short Guide
Alice Walker Biographies (8)
1,316 words, approx. 5 pages
Pulitzer prize-winning novelist Alice Walker (born 1944) was best known for her stories about black women who achieve heroic stature within the confines of their ordinary day-to-day lives.Alice Walker...
5,766 words, approx. 20 pages
Alice Walker is a talented, versatile writer from the modern South. Since the appearance of her first book in 1968, she has published poetry, fiction, and criticism, all of which have advanced her li...
8,122 words, approx. 28 pages
Since 1968 when Once, her first work, was published, Alice Walker has sought to bring closer that day for which her maternal ancestors waited--"a day when the unknown thing that was in them would be...
13,406 words, approx. 45 pages
[This entry was updated by Donna Haisty Winchell (Clemson University) from her entry in DLB 143: American Novelists Since World War II, Third Series, pp. 277-292.]Alice Walker knows firsthand the soci...
9,897 words, approx. 33 pages
Biography EssaySince 1968 when Once, her first work, was published, Alice Walker has sought to bring closer that day for which her maternal ancestors waited-"a day when the unknown thing that was in ...
5,814 words, approx. 20 pages
Best known for her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Color Purple, as well as for its adaptation as a motion picture by Steven Spielberg, Alice Walker has become a totem for black feminism, what she c...
3,380 words, approx. 12 pages
Alice Walker was the leading English textual critic of the 1950s and 1960s. Much of her scholarship was undertaken to prepare for the editing of William Shakespeare, particularly the Oxford Old-Spelli...
10,102 words, approx. 34 pages
Walker was born February 9, 1944 in Eatonton, Georgia, about seventy-five miles southeast of Atlanta. She was the youngest of eight children, five boys and three girls, all of whom lived in a three-or...