Homeland and Other Stories

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

In her stories, Kingsolver addresses conventional relationships in contemporary situations: single mothers juggling the responsibilities of rearing children and working; married couples considering parenthood or growing old; estranged lovers or families trying to bridge the gaps that they do not understand. The characters in these stories are trying to find themselves; adrift and rootless, they are searching for commitment, either externally or internally. Lack of communication between two or more people apparently stems from an inability to find common ground and creates inarticulate resentment or incomprehension, In “Island on the Moon,” for example, an estranged mother and daughter overcome years of bitterness and the strange circumstances of being pregnant at the same time to be reconciled and to draw strength from each other.

The title story describes the relationship between a grandmother and grand-daughter. Written from the granddaughter’s point of view as a young girl, the story relates a disappointing trip taken by the family to the grandmother’s homeland, which the latter does not even recognize. Through the young girl, Kingsolver seems to say that it is not the place that holds the memories and has significance; it is the people and the history they retain in their memories. In other words, it is not necessary to go home in order to remember where one came from.

Other stories deal with various issues, such as homosexuality, strikes and unions, or ethnicity, where the main character is faced with a life-changing decision that she or he must inevitably make alone. In “Rose-Johnny,” Georgeann, a young girl living in a small, rural town, slowly becomes aware of the ostracism against a lesbian named Rose-Johnny, whom she has befriended. The subtle victimization that Rose-Johnny undergoes is poignantly related through Georgeann, who steadfastly remains true to her friendship with the woman, despite town pressure.

The oral richness of the stories in this collection will often find the reader looking for a listening audience. Kingsolver displays an unusual gift for storytelling, a gift that she has developed in these stories beyond the considerable talent she demonstrated in THE BEAN TREES.

Homeland, and Other Stories Bibliography

(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Beattie, Elisabeth L. “Story-Telling Traditions.” Keeneland Magazine, Winter, 2003, 41-44.

Blake, Fanny, and Margaret Forster. “YOU Reading Group: The Poisonwood Bible.” YOU 9 (January, 2000): 77-79.

Cockrell, Amanda. “Luna Moths, Coyotes, Sugar Skulls: The Fiction of Barbara Kingsolver.” The Hollins Critic 38, no. 2 (2001): 1-15.

Eisele, Kimi. “The Where and Why of Literature: A Conversation with Barbara Kingsolver.” You Are Here 2, no. 2 (1999): 10-15.

Flairty, Steve. “Barbara Kingsolver—Kentucky’s ’Polite Firebrand’ Author.” Kentucky Monthly, February, 2002, 12-15.