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Review of Alice Walker's essay on the creative spirit of her female ancestors

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Kieffer, Joshua College Writing Essay 1 Part 1 Alice Walker uses Virginia Woolf's phrase "contrary instincts" to describe the creative spirit that her female ancestors valued while working and living in oppressive conditions. Throughout Walkers essay she made many connections between these "contrary instincts" and how she perceived the constraints on the knowledge of women in her childhood era. Although, the knowledge Walker talks about in her essays is not the kind that most people think of when they hear the word. It is the knowledge and creative spirit of ourselves that she talks about; the primary source of what we need to get us through life. She made the relation of how women used art to express their creative spirit; their knowledge. Walker depicted how her ancestors expressed their knowledge through their creative spirits, whether it be through sewing a quilt or creating a garden. She tries to get us to realize that all we have to do is to find our hidden creative spirit and that will be where we will find our knowledge. ...read more.


When could they find the time to let their creative spirits loose? Then I read Walker's piece and my eyes opened. I'd forgotten about the gardens. As in "In search of my mothers gardens" both my mother and grandmother have gardens. They planted flowers, ferns, and vines. They gave each other clippings from their most mature plants so that the plant could grow in the other's garden. The two of them would tour each other's garden to talk about what was growing well that season or which plant was on its last leg. Gardening was the common thread that bonded them as mother and daughter, and as women. They intertwined their creative spirits with nature to create gardens-to create themselves. Alice Walker challenges us, as art does, to make sure that we do not overlook what might be true to our existence; of who we really are. She is trying to get us to look deeper than we thought we ever could, to find our creative spirit, our knowledge and heritage and to give it new life. ...read more.


There is always room for us to grow through out our life time, to expand on the knowledge that we will pass down to our kids. In a sense it is as though our creative spirit is our trademark. When Walker chose the title for her piece, "In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens," she made it very appropriate and fitting to the inflection towards knowledge and self discovery. When examining the essay from a literal level, you see that Alice was looking at her mother's garden as an example of Woolf's "contrary instincts," and the creative spirit that she was so curious about. Whereas examining her work from a symbolic level, the title is plural, showing that there are other people that may be in search of the creative spirit that is passed down from generation to generation; although it may not necessarily be in the form of a physical garden. Whereas instead people are still looking for their symbolic "garden" which Walker tries to get us to see. Through out her essay Walker shows us that it is not the diploma in our hand, but the spirit in our heart that will guide us to happiness in our life. ...read more.

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