Shaping an audience in American Indian women's literature
Thesis (M.A.)--Georgetown University, 2009.; Includes bibliographical references. The recent attention paid to issues of domestic violence and destruction in popular culture is an old and familiar narrative for American Indian people, specifically for American Indian women. I contend that contemporary American Indian women writers are shaping messages for changing the patterns of internalized oppression that are at the root of some occurrences of abuse. Leslie Marmon Silko, Louise Erdrich, and Betty Louise Bell, whose works are influenced by the oral tradition, voice the problems facing today's Indian families and communities, and they offer egalitarian messages for ordering the world in order to combat destructive forces. Three novels, Silko's Ceremony, Erdrich's Love Medicine, and Bell's Faces in the Moon, reflect the oral tradition; because of the valuable role audiences play within the oral tradition, the male protagonists of the first two novels are aligned with a male reading audience in order to reveal how that male audience can participate in mapping out a path evolving from destruction to creation, and the female protagonist in the final novel demonstrates that, if there is an absence of men, women can recall a history of male leadership to create new forms of leadership. Speaking about, dealing with, and healing from domestic violence and familial destruction are shaped in these novels, which also present worthy male role models that have mapped out paths for us to take. The groundwork to end destruction has already been set by women writers who may be calling for male readers to participate in dialogue and action.
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