Gardens in the Dunes Summary

Summary (Masterpieces of American Literature)

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.)

Gardens in the Dunes Bibliography (Masterpieces of American Literature)

Aithal, S. K. “American Ethnic Fiction in the Universal Context.” American Studies International 21 (October, 1983): 61-66.

Antell, J. A. “Momaday, Welch, and Silko: Expressing the Feminine Principle Through Male Alienation.” American Indian Quarterly 12 (Summer, 1988): 213-220.

Chavkin, Allan, ed. Leslie Marmon Silko’s “Ceremony”: A Casebook. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

Danielson, Linda. “The Storytellers in Storyteller.” Studies in American Indian Literatures 5, no. 1 (1989): 21-31.

Dunsmore, Roger. “No Boundaries: On Silko’s Ceremony.” In Earth’s Mind: Essays in Native Literature. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1997.

Garcia, Reyes. “Senses of Place in Ceremony.” MELUS 10 (Winter, 1983): 37-48.

Hirsh, B. A. “The Telling Which Continues: Oral Tradition and the Written Word in Leslie Marmon Silko’s Storyteller.” American Indian Quarterly 12 (Winter, 1988): 1-26.

Jahner, Elaine. “Leslie Marmon Silko.” In Handbook of Native American Literature, edited by Andrew Wiget. New York: Garland, 1996.

Lincoln, Kenneth. “Grandmother Storyteller: Leslie Silko.” In Native American Renaissance. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985.

Nelson, Robert M. “Rewriting Ethnography: The Embedded Texts in Leslie Silko’s Ceremony.” In Telling the Stories: Essays on American Indian Literatures and Cultures. New York: Peter Lang, 2001.

Sax, Richard. “One World, Many Tribes: Crosscultural Influences in Silko’s Almanac of the Dead.” In Celebration of Indigenous Thought and Expression. Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.: Lake Superior State University Press, 1996.