Three Women's Texts and the Healing Power of the Other Woman

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Department of English, NTNU


While language partakes in the white-male-as-norm ideology and is employed predominately as a vehicle to circulate established power relations, contemporary Third World feminists specifically credit the achievements of women writers of color. Inscribing the figure of the Other Woman, the Woman who is sexually, racially, and culturally “othered,” these non-mainstream women writers disrupt the white hegemonic representations of “the Other” to define a gender- and race-specific identity. Challenging the racism of feminist literary history, this paper foregrounds three American ethnic women’s texts to investigate the power of the Other Woman as that which sustains and renews a tribal and ethnic legacy. Pivoting around three prototypes, Pilate in Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon (1978), Ts’eh in Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony (1977), and Brave Orchid (Ying-lan) in Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior (1976), this study uses the concepts of “the wild zone” and “the uncanny” to define otherness, and argues for feminist ethnic differences that can eventually become sources of tribal renewal and healing. The healing power of the Other Woman as configured in “three women’s texts” thus not only represents a significant mode of the “critique of imperialism,” but also redeems Black/Indian/Asian women’s sense of nothingness and makes their ethnic salvation possible.