In what ways can Anne Moody's Coming of Age in Mississippi be read as a Womanist text? What are the different scholars' definitions of womanism? What are at least four examples in the text of...

In what ways can Anne Moody's Coming of Age in Mississippi be read as a Womanist text? What are the different scholars' definitions of womanism? What are at least four examples in the text of womanism?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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While eNotes doesn't write student essays, below are some ideas to help you plan, develop, and even research your essay if needed.

To complete your assignment, you first want to develop a full understanding of the social theory called womanism. More importantly, you want to know that several scholars have contributed to the womanist social theory and changed the theory to such an extent that each definition can seem contradictory. Author and poet Alice Walker was the first to coin the term womanism from the common folk expression in the South: "acting womanish" ("Womanism: Alice Walker"). It can be argued that the "womanish girl exhibits willful, courageous, and outrageous behavior that is considered beyond the scope of societal norms" ("Womanism: Alice Walker"). In her own words, one who is womanish is "committed to the survival and wholeness of an entire people ... loves the spirit ... loves struggle. Loves herself" ("Womanism: Alice Walker"). Two other scholars who redefined womanism are Clenora Hudson-Weems and Chikwenye Okonjo Ogunyemi. The first, Clenora Hudson-Weems specifically based her theory around African culture and Afrocentrism, meaning the belief that African-American culture should reflect "traditional African values" (Encyclopedia Britannica, "Afrocentrism"). Eighteen different characteristics of those who adhere to the Africana womanist theory have been named, and some of those include being "self-naming, self-defining, family-centered, flexible and desiring positive male companionship" ("Africana Womanism: Values"). Africana womanism especially places particular emphasis on valuing motherhood, children, and even valuing "faith in God and the Bible" ("Africana Womanism: Values"). Hence, one way in which Hudson-Weems's definition of womanism differs from Walker's concerns the values Hudson-Weems emphasizes, especially motherhood and faith. Less information is available online concerning Nigerian literary critic Chikwenye Okonjo Ogunyemi's definition of womanism; however, in a nutshell, she argues the "womanist vision" concerns finding out how to equally "share power among the races and between the sexes" ("Womanism: Chikwenye Okonjo Ogunyemi"). To complete your assignment, you will probably need and want to do further research on all three of these womanist theories to figure out exactly which one you want to write on. If your course material inadequately describes the theories, then turn to other library books and journal articles, especially books and articles the scholars have written.

Definitely many examples can be found within Anne Moody's Coming of Age in Mississippi that relate to either of the above definitions of womanism. One example can be seen in the fact that Anne's family was very religious. We can see their religiousness in the fact that they enjoy attending church, such as the Centreville Baptist Church. Their religiousness especially reflects Hudson-Weems's theory of Africana Womanism, which emphasizes valuing God and the Bible. It can also be said that Anne's mother's preference for attending their old, poor church reflects on ideologies expressed in Walker's definition of womanism. Based on Walker's definition, womanism focuses on the "unique experiences, struggles, needs and desires of ... all women of color" ("Womanism: Ideologies"). Since poverty is one of the frequent struggles among colored women, Toosweet wanting to keep attending their poorer church portrays her desire to keep relating with their culture, which also reflects Walker's womanism theory. It can also be said that wanting to keep attending the poorer church is a way for Toosweet to establish solidarity among her poor community. Anne wants to separate herself from her poor community, but separation can be seen as only a way of emphasizing inequality rather than fighting against it. Establishing solidarity coincides with womanism theory because it is through solidarity that changes can be initiated. Initiating changes through solidarity can be said to align with Ogunyemi's theory as she is more concerned with finding ways to equally share power.

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