Themes and Meanings

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

The conflict between Taylor and Annawake, between the interests of motherly love and tribal community, provides Kingsolver with the foremost dramatic issue of the novel. From the beginning, the reader’s sympathies are strongly with Taylor, fueled by her staunch belief in Turtle during the Hoover Dam episode and by the ways in which Taylor and Turtle have clearly become the central foci of each other’s lives.

On the other hand, it is one of the greatest strengths of Kingsolver’s writing that she makes the reader feel that the claims of Annawake and the Cherokee nation are not merely a matter of legal abstraction or political correctness but are also heartfelt concerns for both the tribe and the child. Kingsolver makes the reader realize that the unfortunate case of Gabriel is far from an isolated incident when Annawake cites the statistic that as late as the 1970’s, a third of all Native American children were still being taken from their families and adopted into non-Indian homes. With children being removed in these numbers, the tribe’s concern that such adoptions threaten its strength, and even its very existence, is clearly legitimate. Annawake makes the further points that there are invariably Cherokee extended-family members who want such children returned and would make good homes for them and that even if Cherokee children are being reared in loving non-Indian homes, such children would lack the strong sense of cultural identity that...

(The entire section is 494 words.)


(Novels for Students)

Justice and Injustice
One of the main thematic concerns in the novel is the issue of justice and injustice. At the heart of the...

(The entire section is 588 words.)