The Role of Landscape and Place in Women’s Identity

Austin encourages her followers to love and admire the Walking Woman regarding her provocative lifestyle, which went against all that is perceived to be a woman’s existence. The character of a roaming woman portrays a befuddled feminist who is unsure what to do with her powerful free spirit who refuses to follow the lifestyle that has been assigned to her. Mary Austin wrote the novel in response to the bigotry, xenophobia, and gender anxiety prevalent at the turn of the twentieth century (Alaimo, 74). During that time, Progressive Conservation Movement headed by Margret Russel Knudsen exalted the mission of the white women which was supposed to protect the home and enshrine the race by conserving the natural resources. However, Mary Austin did not perceive nature as a repository resources to be used in the household but as an undomesticated potentially feminist space. She challenges the domestic ideologies that adhered to the utilitarian conception of nature and encouraged domestic skills in a woman as a qualification for conservation work (Alaimo, 75). She invokes nature to disentangle woman from the domestic ideologies. Besides, she unties nature from utilitarianism by casting it as a woman. In Walking Woman, Austin seems to disagree with the path chosen by the woman (Alaimo, 75). The author acknowledges that women have a right to live the way they want, but she was not happy with how women were exercising their freedom during that era. Conclusively, Mary Austin presents a woman who has no idea of what to do with the freedom presented to her and she chooses the wrong path in exercising the freedom.

Woman Hollering Creek by Sandra Cisnersos

The article shows how myths are used to define the Mexican women living in Chicago in a chain of linguistic, psychological as well as spiritual border crossings. The story opens a borderland space in which old myths take a new resonance, and new stories are possible (Doyle, 53). The main character in the article seeks a language in which she can communicate on behalf of women who are suffering in silence under male violence. The author presents a woman who is torn between two cultures. She is a Mexican living in America and the difficulties she has to go through. The woman ends up belonging to neither the Mexican culture nor the American culture. In the stories told in Woman Hollering Creek, Cisnersos reshapes the myths in a manner that they define the identity of Chicana conjuring the ghostly spirits (Doyle, 54). She charts the spaces between the borderlands and remaps symbolic maternal landscapes in which the ghostly wail of La Llorona is replaced by her own voice that calls Cleόfilas to a spiritual birth. In the article, the author shows how self-identity among women surrounded in two different cultures is difficult since it is suppressed by poverty and culture. She explains how such women have to struggle towards self-definition as well as to be in control of their own destinies. Some of the characters attempt to escape the patriarchal leadership through education as well as self-expression (Doyle, 56). Contrary to Walking Woman, Woman Hollering Creek presents a woman without freedom, but she is doing the right thing to search for her rights. She is expressing herself and searches for knowledge to run away from her adversaries.

Works Cited

Alaimo, Stacy. “The undomesticated nature of feminism: Mary Austin and the progressive women conservationists.” Studies in American Fiction 26.1 (1998): 73-96.

Doyle, Jacqueline. “Haunting the Borderlands: La Llorona in Sandra Cisneros’s” Woman Hollering Creek”.” Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies 16.1 (1996): 53-70.

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