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An Ecofeminist Interpretation of the Temple of My Familiar

Author XuYingZuo
Tutor DuZhiQing
School Huaqiao University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords Walker The Temple of My Familiar ecofeminist criticism
Type Master's thesis
Year 2007
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Alice Walker is one of the most important contemporary Afro-American writers. She is not only a novelist but also a poet and essayist. Her works are various in thematic choices and profound in themes. She is an influential writer who examines social problems such as race, sex, religion and ecology in her literary works. At present, critical attention from both home and abroad is mainly paid to her representative work The Color Purple, while the studies on her other novels are relatively insufficient. In fact, her other novels are also rich in profound meanings.Walker’s early works (mainly novels) depict the severe racial and sexual discrimination in American society as well as their impact on black women. However, in her recent works (especially published after 1988), Walker not only touches upon racial and sexual prejudice, but also closely combines race and sex with nature, realizing that the main cause of the domination of nature, women and the colored people are fundamentally the same, i.e., male domination or patriarchy. These works demonstrate her ecofeminist ideas in various aspects. This is the reason why the author of this thesis tries to analyze her novel The Temple of My Familiar through the lens of ecofeminism.Ecofeminism is the third phase of feminism, a gradual combination of feminist and ecological movements in the mid-twentieth century. It is a movement against the interconnected oppressions of women and nature. These interconnected oppressions are derived from patriarchal structures which justify a variety of human dominances through categorical or dualistic hierarchies: heaven/earth, mind/body, male/female, human/animal, spirit/matter, culture/nature, white/non-white.This thesis is intended to highlight the ecofeminist elements in The Temple of My Familiar through a detailed textual analysis. In the novel, Walker demonstrates that the exploitation of nature, the domination over women, racism and colonialism are parallel forms of male domination. Furthermore, Walker seems to offer certain solutions to different forms of domination by presenting us a harmonious world, built with the restoration of goddess belief, the harmony between nature and human beings, the harmony between men and women, and the preservation of indigenous cultures as well. Thus, an ecofeminist approach to this novel using ecofeminist criticism will contribute to a better understanding of this novel and Walker’s literary creation. Also, we may be led to realize how urgent and important it is to establish a harmonious relationship between humans and nature as the world is endangered by ecological crises of various kinds.

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