In her novels she attempts to portray a female utopia where men are almost redundant. Her novels dominate in feminist perspectives and depict women feeling and their experiences in detail. She explores the relationship between woman and motherhood and the status within the family as wife and mother. Her novels scrutinize that women are shaped by their community and their experience. Her woman characters are self-assured and self-reliant who are willing to fight against political and social atrocities. Most of them are independent and self willed women with courage and strong convictions. They are aware of maturation, the consummation of life, and self development. Kingsolver’s heroines know how to maintain their freedom of expression for personal fulfilment and their voices is always heard and answered.
Barbara Kingsolver’s Prodigal Summer is notably women-centred based novel. She highlights the three women characters such as Lusa Maluf Landowski, Deanna Wolfe, and Nannie Rawley who survive in a diminutive town in Appalachia where womenfolk do not raise their voice like men. According to Barbara Ellen Smith, this region is particularly important for a conceptualization of women’s agency, for it has “additional obstacles to the development of women’s history (4) as compared to other American regions. In Appalachia community running a farm and living in the forest are duty expected from men rather than women. The central characters are forced to oppose the first notion of this patriarchal system that men should have more control and authority power than womenfolk. A woman should behave as his slave and is legally affiliate to her husband. She should not hold property in her own name or save her earnings. The central characters rebuff to accept that their recognition should be identified in correlation to their male partners.
Lusa is a strong willed woman who persistently fights with her husband so Cole demands his wife to behave like his own sister. This notion creates a conflict between their relations. When Cole meets Lusa, at that time she is a post doctoral at the University of Kentucky with her degree in entomology. The Appalachia community does not recognise her higher level of education as prominent thing, stating that her passion for education is misdemeanour. The choice of generating new favourable condition for herself is viewed as eccentricity in Egg Fork. Her desire of a higher level degree of education which is quite conventional in big cities the city where she comes from like New York it enters her to develop a socio-economic independence but it is inconceivable for the rural community. Her refusal to adopt her husband’s last name ‘Widener’ this shows her feminist activity. She does not wish to annihilate her own independence woman identity. And also she never volunteer to be part of the farmer family business instead she makes an effort to preserve her foreign heritage because she takes an immense pride of her Polish and Arab traditions, music, and food.
She fights to get back her previous identity and the adoption of patriarchal ideas about marriage is challenged by the society. Everyone called her Mrs Widener, as if there were no Lusa at all (40). In her situation, even though she lives in the twenty first modern century, the Appalachia community still vacillates to use her own name. She does not fulfil her role as an ideal wife, and her mother-in-law is the most significant matriarchal figure of the family, she is the one who reminds her duty and her failures. Sandra M Gilbert argues that “the woman’s individuality has to disappear to open space for these new masks and costumes. The use of language is important here, as the words ‘masks’ and costumes imply that women are covered by male expectation” (). Her individuality is criticised by his sister’s husband, the main patriarchal image in her family. After the death of Cole the family members do not believe she can take care of the farm by herself. So her in-laws decide that she needs another man in her life to make decisions. The backward rural Appalachia Community believes that a woman identity related to the existence of her husband alone when her husband is no more, the role of woman becomes challengeable for her survival. But she again economically independent when she heir to the farm. She is the main reason for developing her own farm then she learns alternatives techniques for using the land ethically.
Next through the storyline of Deanna Kingsolver focus her central problems which the protagonist has to challenge. In her first appearance in the novel, she is already divorced woman, but her struggle to reattempt to define her own identity without her husband is vividly depicts by the novelist in her speech. The notion of her ex-husband is that a woman is the responsible to take over all the domestic activities. But the modern readers are not granted to his thought because his vision appears to defend that a wife should feel comfortable with domestic matters and should not concentrate on other spaces. She searches for the bigger space where she can free from society. After getting the divorce, her independence decision leads her to go the Zebulon Mountain. Deanna manages herself from the marriage institution and the view of the patriarchal society. She wants to follow her heart and the lifestyle which she has always wants to live. She refuses to be the role model of a good woman, and also she disgust to lead her life under the shadow of a man.
Her dwelling in the wood gives her time to identify and recognize the importance of every being there for the need of better survival. After she sense the wood is the space where her independent identity is most clear. Then her relationship with Eddie Bondo arise a new conflict with the male dominated society. He symbolizes the stereotypical male conqueror in the wood. He is the man who hunts coyotes, the rare animals in the wood which she is trying to protect them. Deanna is amazed that he rejects some of the patriarchal notions she has always hatred the notion that the man is a stronger and taller than the womanhood. Deanna feels that Eddie explores his personality in different ways. She has a difficult time to be firm in her decision of not falling in love with him. She continually reminds him that he is not essential for her life. She does not want to fall into the prey of marriage again, for she has already visualises its effects. She says to him “Eddie. It’s not like I want to get married and live happily ever after (25). She does not want to be affiliate to the male shadows again, she reminds saying that her independent identity is more valuable than anything else. As Coontz comments “once upon a time almost all men and women accepted that their lives had to be a package deal: you get married and then you have kids. Now man and woman can customize their life courses” (301).
Nannie undergoes from the gendered social expectations, but she cleverly manages to distance herself from the rural community. She generates an independent identity and avoids marriage system. Education not only provides women a good economic independence, but also it is useful device to fight the marriage in the Appalachia Community. The educational background allows her to combat the stereotypical notions about gender roles and finally escapes from the domestic matters and its suppression. She is the first characters to take part in the coyote system of developing children. She distances herself from the patriarchal society in order to upbringing her child. By declining to follow traditional patriarchal views, she rejects the marriage proposal of Deanna’s fath