Review of Alice Walker's Book Possessing the Secret of Joy

Often dismissed because it is unrenowned, Alice Walker describes the issues of Female genital mutilation through stories of the distrait.
Throughout human history, the physical universe has often presented dangerous and callous imaginations. In Possessing the Secret of Joy, a young African woman named Tashi, is required to undergo female circumcision in order to adhere to her culture’s fable convictions. In the beginning of the novel, Tashi expresses a fantasy that is remarkably parallel to her life. Tashi finds liberation within herself in this opening chimera. Agnate to her real life, her fantasy battles with: unfaithfulness, violence, intercourse, jealousy and discontent. She eventually finds her inner voice and expresses the moon as a lover who makes her feel beautiful. Calmed by passion and her inner guidance, she ends her fantasy by kissing her reflection to show her complacency. Tashi left our world multiple times throughout the novel; other children would laugh at her and say “You can tell because her eyes have glazed over”. Tashi’s mother was charged by a leopard the day she birthed her. The leopards mate, as well as her cubs were later discovered shot and skinned. Tashi was telling this story to a therapist, when suddenly her eyes glazed over. The leopard in her dream represented fear when she ran away from the bloody cubs and shame when she returns to witness them stiffly dead. Tashi feels the horror and rage that the leopard possesses, and in her dream, she leaps for a pregnant woman’s throat. Tashi was around the age of two when her sister dies from blood loss due to circumcision. It was said that their mother had helped hold her down during the process. Walker paints us a picture of the aftermath from genital mutilation such as, bodies sprawled ungracefully and the stench of scorched blood. It was this exact portrait the leopard witnesses when approaching her dead cubs in Tashi’s dream. This fantasy conclusively shows her feelings of betrayal. Her reality is translated into her unconscious mind, and then represented by overcoming her inner dismal. As a child Tashi has a fantasy about a large bird with outspread wings and an immense beak. This bird would swoop down from the sky and take one of the pennies her mother had given her to buy matches. This story would be Tashi’s excuse to her mother for irresponsibly losing the penny. When confronted with the image of a fighting hen later in her life she is overwhelmed with fear and faints. She begins to fantasize and starts to paint a symbolic picture. Her portrait was of a design called “crazy road”, a foot, and a giant fighting hen. The fighting cock may have represented her childhood story, however, it awakened a memory so isolated that she howls and cries in pain. Immediately after Tashi’s sister was circumcised, she witnesses a woman carrying a small unclean object between her toes, the hen’s then rush toward her upturned foot and in one quick movement she flings the small object and beak, neck, feathers, gobble it down. I personally believe that paintings are stories, and a way to escape from reality just as if daydreaming.
Clarissa Estates quotes “Stories are like medicine. They have such power; they do not require that we do, be, act anything- We need only listen”. In possessing the secret of joy, Alice Walker clearly shows us that fantasizing was like medicine to Tashi, whether it was painting or a glazy eyed daydream, she could escape to a world where she was not held captive by the things that the physical world had done to her. When Tashi was tried for murder, she began to tell a story in front of the courtroom, although she was laughed at and silenced, she knew that with her imagination and inner voice that she was not bounded.
In conclusion, Tashi quotes “If I find myself way off into an improbable tale, imagining it or telling it, then I can guess something horrible has happened to me and that I can’t bear to think about it.” It is within these stories that we find powerful messages that symbolize and heal our lives if we only listen, just as Tashi listened to her inner guidance to find love through her unconscious, to find hidden memories through painting her stories and ultimately to find joy through resistance .