Possessing the Secret of Joy Essay - Critical Essays

Alice Walker


Walker’s novel is about love, forgiveness, and self-acceptance. Tashi experiences physical and emotional pain so intense that it is almost inconceivable, yet she resists self-destruction and finds inner peace.

Tashi explains in her letter to Lisette that even though he was more progressive than most preachers of color, Adam’s sermons always focused on the suffering of Jesus and thus tended to exclude the suffering of others. She wanted her own suffering to be recognized and acknowledged. Ironically, it is Pierre, the son of Adam and Lisette, who has submerged himself into the mystery of her suffering and whose life is dedicated to destroying the suffering caused by torture. He has helped her to understand herself, her mother, M’Lissa, and all the women who have been crucified as well as those who are still cringing before the overpowering might and weapons of torturers. In having found this self-knowledge, she is able to recognize and acknowledge suffering and to accept death without anxiety.

Pierre also has been kind enough to befriend and patient enough to teach Benny, his retarded half brother. With his help, Benny will be able to survive in a cruel and indifferent world. He is also able to help Benny find a way to deal with what is happening to his mother on a level that he can understand in his own simple terms.

Both boys work with Adam in caring for the many AIDS patients who are crowded into one floor of the Olinkan...

(The entire section is 424 words.)