Summary (Identities & Issues in Literature)
Zami: A New Spelling of My Name, Audre Lorde’s prose masterpiece, examines a young black woman’s coming to terms with her lesbian sexual orientation. An autobiographical novel, Zami has earned a reputation as much for its compelling writing as for its presentation of a coming-of-age story of a black lesbian feminist intent on claiming her identity.
At the age of nineteen, Zami flees New York City, where she was raised by her West Indian parents, for Mexico. There, she falls in love with an older expatriate woman named Eudora, who opens up her sensual life to the younger woman. Through her relationship with Eudora, Zami realizes the paralyzing consequences of the “racist, patriarchal and anti-erotic society” that Eudora fled when she left the United States. Zami returns to live in the “gay girl” milieu of Greenwich Village in the 1950’s. She commits herself to a long-term relationship with Muriel, a white woman with whom she builds a home. Muriel completes the sexual awakening that Eudora began. Muriel is threatened, however, when Zami enters therapy and enrolls in college. As Zami forges an identity that integrates her sensual, intellectual, and artistic sides, Muriel moves out of the Greenwich Village apartment. Zami moves forward, even in grief, toward her new-found life.
Erotic language and scenes pepper the story. Zami learns to accept her own erotic impulses toward women, and her acceptance leads her into a...
(The entire section is 375 words.)
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