Grandmothers of the Light Critical Essays

Paula Marie Francis


(Masterpieces of Women's Literature)

Throughout Grandmothers of the Light, Allen maintains a dual focus on education and transformation. As she informs her readers about American Indian peoples’ woman-centered, holistic worldview, she attempts to alter their perceptions. She attributes the many problems facing Western culture to the spiritual imbalance that accompanied the shift to rational thought and patriarchal social structures and asserts that the worldview embodied in North American myths provides social actors with an alternative perspective. Moreover, Allen believes that native cosmology offers twentieth century women an important tool for achieving personal and social change, for it challenges the sexism and other forms of misogyny found in Western socioreligious belief systems. This desire to instruct and transform readers influences Allen’s approach to her material. In order to reach a broad audience, she employs a conversational, nonacademic style and translates a highly sophisticated metaphysical system into accessible language and nontechnical terminology.

Myth plays a central role in the personal, social, and metaphysical changes that Allen advocates. She rejects Western ethnocentric conceptions of mythology as primitive belief systems, mystifying falsehoods, or nostalgic retreats into an irrecoverable past and maintains that mythic stories embody an alternate method of perceiving reality, as well as a highly complex metaphysics. In the introductory chapter, Allen...

(The entire section is 555 words.)