“I wanted my words to be seen. I wanted Martha to be in the vision of the world, with her low-slung belly swaying in the morning of a culture. Martha, the adamant vision: the woman standing on the scalloped shell emerging from the sea (Stinson, pg 106).”
Amanda’s writings about Martha have created a sense of freedom that she has never felt. She feels a sense of liberation from the societal norms that had haunted her through her marriage, and she has slowly felt less stifled by the biblical world that she has been stuck in. Her imagination and innovation as a woman in her community are remarkable and the idea that she can freely write creates a sense of female liberation. She has become a role model for the women in her community, and the readers of the novel as well. Amanda’s character development shows how a supportive and loyal partner can bring out the best in us.
The passage is important to the main themes of the book because it shows Amanda’s true feelings for Martha, and her sense of body positivity when describing Martha’s physique. At the beginning of the novel, Amanda would not have had the courage to discuss or write about these ideas and thoughts. However, Martha’s influence on Amanda was liberating for her and her words on the page reflect this.
The concept of body and body image in this novel is a breath of fresh air. The way that Amanda describes Martha, and her low-slung belly would be an insult to many people, however, Martha’s body is celebrated by Amanda and her descriptions of Martha’s bodies reflect her feelings rather than what society might dictate. This is another example of the freedom and liberation that forms throughout the novel.
I often wish that I had the tenacity to discuss bodies in the way that Susan Stinson does in her writing. The ability to worry about one’s judgment and to have a positive outlook on what society dictates as bad or disgusting is in its way liberating and takes off the pressure that society weighs us down with. Many women see our physique as a form of identity, and society perpetuates this. What we wear and how we look, should not be what defines us and is certainly not the only aspect of our identity that matters. Susan Stinson is a true role model for redefining female identity and looking at who we are on the inside rather than how we look on the outside.