Lillian Smith's Ideas of Lesbianism and the African American Mammy Lillian Smith's Ideas of Lesbianism and the African American Mammy
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This paper will examine Lillian Smith's ideas of lesbianism and the African American Mammy figure. Smith had a long sexual relationship with a female friend Paula Snelling and recently critics began to recognize that lesbianism is a central issue in her works. Smith does not write much about lesbianism, but in her novels she discribes homoerotic desire between women which stimulates and encourages female creativity. She values women's nurturing quality such as cooperation, encouragement and understanding. Smith regards maternal love as a prototype of the relationships between women and especially she idealizes the African American Mammy. She valorizes African American mothers' way of raising children because she thinks the mothers provide children with feelings of security and self-esteem by affirming their emotion and enable them to survive racial oppression. In this way, the mothers are described as having distinguished qualities such as maturity. The Mammy is a well-known stereotype of African American women, but Smith uses and modifies the image to portray an idealized female figure. In her descriptions of these women we can suppose that Smith restores the image of the Mammy, of whom she was deprived when she was a child, and magnify it. Smith's love for the Mammy also works as erotic desire which encourages and empowers her creative energy to activate.
- The Kwassui review. Faculty of Humanities
The Kwassui review. Faculty of Humanities (58), 31-58, 2015-03
Kwassui Women's College