Tashi, who was only a sketch of a character in The Color Purple (1982) and The Temple of My Familiar (1989), is one of the more memorable characters to people Walker’s fiction. Because Walker chooses to present her characters’ traits from a subjective perspective, by using the device of the interior monologue, Tashi is able to say that which she has been unable to express to others, including her husband, Adam, and her sister-in-law, Olivia.
Moreover, through interior monologues, Walker shows how Tashi deals with a lifetime of pain and suffering that has its genesis in the female circumcision ritual of the Olinka. Tashi’s character is portrayed as “damaged goods,” and she tells the extent of the damage and how it has altered almost every aspect of her life.
A major problem for Tashi is that she thinks of herself as insane because no one is able to understand the horror of her childhood and how physical and emotional scarring has made her a shell of a woman. Tashi feels inadequate and unloved—even though she intellectually knows that Adam loves her—and less than whole.
As she revisits through memory what the tsunga did to her, her sister Dura, and other young girls, Tashi becomes obsessed with analyzing what the circumcision ritual means and why it continues. Her reflection becomes an examination of the impact of the ritual on herself and on her culture, and it is through examination, facing the horror directly, that she resolves to do something about it. When she decides to act, to return to Africa and kill M’Lissa, she gains the first semblance of an authentic self that can live and be a part of the world again. In Africa, when she confronts M’Lissa directly and asks her why she mutilated girls, Tashi comes to understand the power of the ritual in her culture and why it must be stopped. She believes that her own death is a small price to pay to save some young girls’...
(The entire section is 798 words.)