ERIC Number: EJ838834
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Domestic Resistance: Gardening, Mothering, and Storytelling in Leslie Marmon Silko's "Gardens in the Dunes"
Studies in American Indian Literatures, v21 n1 p18-37 Spr 2009
Leslie Marmon Silko began her most recent work, "Gardens in the Dunes" (1999), intending to write a novel that would not be political. Following the publication of "Almanac of the Dead" (1992), which was simultaneously hailed as one of the most important books of the twentieth century and condemned for its angry self-righteousness, Silko specifically sought nonpolitical subject matter for her next project. Silko initially planned to focus her novel on two women and their gardens, with "[a]bsolutely no politics" involved (161). However, after researching the history of gardens, she found that she "had actually stumbled into the most political thing of all--how a person grows his/her food, whether he/she eats, the fact that the plant collectors followed the Conquistadores, which made her realize that it was going to be a political novel. In this article, the author discusses the concept of gardening, mothering, and storytelling in Leslie Marmon Silko's "Gardens in the Dunes." As displayed throughout "Gardens in the Dunes," gardening reflects social values and the complex ways that humans relate to and conceive of the natural world. Gardening reveals basic beliefs about the relationship between humans and the earth. Although gardening is the key trope of Silko's novel, her additional emphasis on mothering in "Gardens in the Dunes" serves as a critical corollary to the ways in which domestic activities encode political positions. Just as mothering and gardening are critical to individual and collective identity formation, so storytelling also has the power to instill cultural values that in turn resist forces that seek to disrupt the unity of ethnic groups and destroy the memory of oppressed peoples. In "Gardens in the Dunes," Silko affirms the notion that to mother is to tell stories that include children in a narrative that connects them to other people and to the natural world.
Descriptors: American Indian Literature, Novels, Gardening, Mothers, Story Telling, Social Values, Resistance (Psychology), Parent Child Relationship, Identification, Cultural Maintenance, American Indian Culture
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
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