The Indestructible Part of Us

Literature is an art form, a force, that ultimately unites its audience. There is not only one type of reader who enjoys the works of Oscar Wilde or Adrienne Rich, but there is a type of reader whose sexist mind refuses to read the works of women once the author is made known. (Winterson, 110). Knowing the author of a piece of literature gives context to the writing. Establishing where an artist’s inspiration derives from is important understanding the context, but literature also has the ability to “coax out of us emotions we normally do not feel” (108) by unintentionally resonating with other kinds of readers.  Winterson challenges the reader to “accept in ourselves, with pleasure, the subtle and various emotions that are the infinity of a human being” (Winterson, 108) – the capacity of the heart (and art) is more than one may realize. There is a shared human connection in the feelings art can elicit out of its audience, and there are virtually no boundaries in what art can be.

Moraga points out that the oppressor fear similarity because they know they may discover themselves in the same aches. This pain stems from the same pain Winterson refers to that brings people together. La Güera depicts the sorrow that fills Moraga when she is able to empathize with her mother’s internalized racism due to Moraga’s internalized guilt for being a lesbian. Moraga calls women to make connections in themselves, to fill their lives with joy. Her Chicana side harmonizes with the white in her blood to make a symphony so sweet and melancholy. Moraga recognizes the privilege she has as a white passing female in America, but she outlines the dangers of ranking oppression. This isn’t to say that she supports the idea that all oppression is the exact same – the struggle of women in general is not the same struggle the LGBTQ+ community faces, which is not the same struggle people of color face. Simply put, Moraga challenges the reader to address the primary source of their own oppression, and come to terms emotionally with how it feels to be a victim (Moraga, 30). Once this is done, an “authentic alliance” (Moraga,30) can be formed. There is power in self-love; there is power in empathy; there is power in unity.

 

Questions:

  1. Moraga’s roots are “both white and brown”, and she feels the necessity to create dialogue. What are your responsibilities to your roots?
  2. How important is it to know the author/the context under which a piece of literature was written? Can art be “universal”?

 

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