One with Nature

“Most days I didn’t feel like messing with flowered plates, so I ate my meals from the skillet…I left off the starch [from John’s old shirts] now, and let the cotton fall in wrinkles around me, with the collar unbuttoned and the tails left untucked more than not. I was forgetting the look of things for the feel of them, and that is a dangerous thing in this world” (Stinson 96).

After Amanda’s stories are published in the magazine in Martha Moody, she draws herself into her own world: she no longer washes herself or her laundry, she eats when she is hungry and drinks when she is thirsty, and she completes her chores and moves through her day at her own pace, stopping to write when she has an idea and taking her time with things that move her. This is very similar to the way that Mala Ramchandin finds herself becoming one with her life and connected with nature in Cereus Blooms at Night, when she retreats from the hustle and bustle of town and begins to live her own, separate life inside her yard. In fact, I worried when I began to read that part about Amanda that the same thing would become of her as became of Mala, and that she would become the town outcast; that everyone would look down on her, tease her, make fun of her, and abuse her for simply being different and isolating herself from everyone else. At first, this did happen; on page 126, when Theda Wilks rides past Amanda, she insults the larger woman for her way of living. However, the difference between Amanda and Mala is that Amanda is both more willing and (at least mentally, if not physically) able to leave her house, go into the town, and spend some amount of time with the people she knew before her period of isolation. Of course, Amanda’s time alone was much shorter than Mala’s, but both women’s seclusion allowed them time and space to grow and develop.

Amanda was able to come to better terms with her sexuality and the way that she sees Martha. To Amanda, Martha is (or rather, was?) her lover, her friend, and her (very short-term) boss. Amanda also developed her sense of self and, like Mala, became closer to nature and the animals, or more specifically, her cow, Miss Alice. Though Mala spoke to the birds and insects in their language, and Amanda spoke to Miss Alice in the English language, this communication intensified the connection between the animal and human worlds in the two novels. 

One thought on “One with Nature”

  1. I think your analysis is a really interesting one because sexuality like nature is, well, natural. I think we can also bring in Geryon in this conversation because he travels to Argentina and is surrounded by nature, “coincidentally” the same place where he reunites with Herakles. Not that it is a happy ending for Geryon, but there is something liberating with being around nature and being able to relax as you wouldn’t if you’re still in the town where so many difficult moments occurred. Mala, Amanda, and Geryon all are examples of queer people who have been though challenging moments and find even the smallest living organisms to ground themselves in.

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