How Environment and Natural Space Reflect Cultural Power Struggles in the Novels of Leslie Marmon Silko
CitationLadapo, Brianna L. 2011. How Environment and Natural Space Reflect Cultural Power Struggles in the Novels of Leslie Marmon Silko. Master's thesis, Harvard University, Extension School.
AbstractThis study investigates how Leslie Marmon Silko's treatment of the natural world in her three novels Ceremony, Almanac of the Dead, and Gardens in the Dunes, represents both the differences among the novels' featured cultures and the universal human instinct to shape and control nature and other beings. I propose that Silko's descriptions of landscapes and peoples have evolved over time, and that each successive novel has grown to include more illustrations of delicately interwoven landscapes that reflect a mixture of races and cultures as opposed to more easily identified single races and cultures. I additionally posit that each distinct type of natural surrounding represents a safe haven only for the culture with which it is associated, and frequently is a danger to other cultures. I theorize that as cultures battle for control over land--and over each other--Silko might give the power over human mortality to the earth itself, which exerts a will of its own and a capacity for vengeance as it is progressively abused by humans. Ultimately, Silko's novels, as well as extensive critical articles and books, biographies of the author, and interviews with the author, all demonstrate evidence of an intimate, continuously evolving relationship between the natural environment ascribed to each culture, and in turn, each culture's relationship to that environment and to other cultures and the earth itself. This investigation also concludes that Silko chooses to represent the values, moral structure, and idiosyncrasies of each culture by assigning each a distinct natural environment and clear method of relating to it--and indeed does so by making that environment a safe haven only for that culture.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37367516
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