Leslie Marmon Silko’s Gardens in the Dunes received more acclaim that the lengthy Almanac of the Dead, and a number of critics, as well as professors and students in higher education, compared the text favorably to her earlier book-length works Ceremony and Storyteller, in terms of both the beauty of the prose and the ultimate positive resolution of the circumstances of the text.
Adolescent Indigo is separated from her Sand Lizard people in the hidden gardens near the Arizona-California border. She spends most of the balance of the novel engaging in compelling discussions of cultural conflict, principally with upper-class Hattie, who views herself initially as Indigo’s savior and form of entrée into mainstream Western culture. Hattie herself is an iconoclastic figure in being a female scholar, in refusing to follow the protocols of academe, and then in marrying Edward, a much older scholar and botanist, but not becoming a mother.
Edward’s defilement of the natural landscape through his foolhardy, greedy scheme concerning citron stock and illegal orchids ultimately destroys his life and his relationship with Hattie. The Grand Tour of Europe that the improbable threesome—Edward, Hattie, Indigo—undertake results in Edward’s arrest in Livorno, Italy, and Indigo’s increasing boredom with the trappings of Western culture. However, a visit to Bath, England, shows Hattie the ancient Celtic gardens...
(The entire section is 487 words.)