The dominant concept of freedom is the ability to act, write, and consider as one wishes. Human beings are wired to seek liberation by whatever means possible. When one gains liberation, they feel released from the shackles that have either personally or implicitly enslaved them. The theme of democracy is a subject that has received a lot of attention in the literary world. The writers of the readings The Vastness of the Dark, No Name Women, and Everyday Use made extensive use of the concept of liberation in their writing. In the Vastness of the Dark, No Name Women, and Everyday Use, various characters are used to highlight the themes of liberation. MacLeod’s story the Vastness of the Dark is much characterized by ideas of freedom. One of the major characters a young man who has been brought up in a family of miners just like his father and grandfather decides to leave this life on his 18th birthday. The young man decides to leave the ways of his family and remake his own. When the story begins the young man, James says “”Well at least tomorrow I will be free of you” (Alistair 361). In this James means that he is eager to move on on his path since he is not ready to join the mining business like his father and grandfather. James notes that he will not have to think about the family again because he was going to leave the coal mining town in which he notes that he has been a prisoner to the city (Alistair 395). By calling himself a prisoner, James points out that the town feels like a prison. This shows that James is eager to be liberated from the imprisonment by his hometown, by leaving it and going away just like the other adults who had turned eighteen (Alistair 396). Through the character, Macleod shows the desire for freedom. He brings up the notion that everyone should search for their freedom and live their own as long as one believes they can do it. Macleod through this text also expresses the desire of the young adults to have the freedom to do whatever pleases them just like James who doesn’t want anything to do with mines anymore (Alistair 391). James is used to represent the youth, and the author acknowledges that it is alright for teenagers to be allowed to move out and live on their own. Macleod through the story stresses how freedom is essential in life and how it can bring both sadness and happiness at the same time. James’ family may not be happy since he is leaving. However, James himself is delighted since he will, at last, have the freedom he had awaited.
No Name Woman is a story featured in the Woman Warrior. The theme of freedom greatly characterizes the story. According to the society and time of the writing of the story, women have no freedom while men have been granted more than the freedom to do whatever they want (Yi 38). Brave Orchid, Kingston’s mother, narrates to her the ordeal the “No Name Woman” who was her aunt went through. Despite being her aunt, Kingston’s father does not recognize her merely because of the humiliation she had brought to the family (Yi 40). While the husband of the aunt had sailed to America to work the aunt became pregnant hence was clear that the baby couldn’t be her husband’s. According to Kingston’s thinking, her aunt must have been raped since the family was starving and with the absence of the husband a villager or relative could have threatened to hurt her if she didn’t give in to sex (Yi 43). According to Kingston, it was dangerous for a woman to be alone in her Aunt’s time since any man could take advantage of her. This shows that women had no freedom during this era.
In the story, Everyday Use, Alice Walker uses the character, Dee, to express the ideas of freedom. On being funded by the church to go for studies, Dee returns as a changed person (Gale 55). The education she has acquired paves the way for her freedom. She discovers her real identity and how the white people had oppressed her race. To enjoy more of this freedom Dee changes her name to a more African One, “Wangero.” She thinks that despite the name “Dee” being significant to her family it is a name passed on from the oppressors and refers to it as a “Slave name” (Gale 56). She does not want anything to deal with the oppressors who had held her forefather’s slaves. She hungers for freedom. Unlike Dee Maggie has little freedom since she has to follow the ways of the society. Walker notes that “She is the one going to take the place of Mama” (Gale 60). Dee is therefore used by Alice Walker to demonstrate the theme of freedom.
The stories The Vastness of Dark, No Name Woman and Everyday Use greatly apply the theme of freedom. The authors of the different stories use characters in the play to demonstrate the issue. The actions taken by the different characters either show the desire for freedom or the lack of freedom in their societies.
Alistair, MacLeod. Island: The Collected Stories of Alistair Macleod. Emblem Editions, 2010. EBSCOhost.
Gale, Cengage Learning. A Study Guide to Alice Walker’s Everyday Use. Gale, Cengage Learning, 2016. EBSCOhost
Yi, Kris. “From No Name Woman to Birth of Integrated Identity: Trauma-Based Cultural Dissociation in Immigrant Women and Creative Integration.” Psychoanalytic Dialogues, vol. 24, no. 1, Jan/Feb2014, pp. 37-45. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/10481885.2014.870830.