Envisioning the New Adam: Empathic Portraits of Men by American Women Writers

By Patricia Ellen Martin Daly | Go to book overview

PART TWO
NEW ADAMS UNDERGOING TRANSFORMATION

In contrast to the men in Part One, the New Adams in this section seem to struggle into states of greater happiness -- or at least the possibility of it. None of them is completely joyful at the end of their stories, but all seem more able to experience and to give more joy as a result of their painful transformations.

Pain and a "reawakened." "driving want for human sympathy and companionship" are what propel Kate Chopin's M'sieur Michel through his transformation in "After the Winter." Self-exiled to "a kennel of a cabin on the hill" where he curses men and God after the loss, twenty-five years ago, of his young wife and child, Michel is lonely and miserable. He is on the verge of surrendering to a feeling as "bitter as hate" when a young Acadian girl and her two childlike companions take the flowers from around his hut for Easter church decorations while he is away. Enraged by this "violation" of his solitude, Michel hastens down the hill to the church, where the joyful "mysterious hidden quality" of the Easter music sends him in a panicked retreat to his hut -- and to a state of "unbounded restlessness." In this state, in which a "longing had sprung up within him as sharp as pain and not to be appeased," Michel finds himself walking through the moonlight to the "bit of land" he had farmed and lived on happily with his wife and child. Enraptured by the beauty of his Edenic "smooth, green meadow, with cattle huddled upon the cool sward," which has been lovingly cared for and used by his friend Joe Duplan, Michel finally lets go of his inner turmoil at the urging of Duplan. At the end of the story, we see this Acadian New Adam emerging from his emotional "winter" and holding out his arms to reconnect with his friend, with the "radiant" land, and with "an infinite peace that seemed to descend upon him and envelop him."

Even more in communion with Nature, Granville Ivanhoe Jordan in June Jordan's poem pores over seed catalogs in his kitchen and saves for money orders so he can "plant the Brooklyn backyard" with "pear and/apple trees/or peaches/in first bloom." "Forced to leave" his beautiful island home, this rather

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Envisioning the New Adam: Empathic Portraits of Men by American Women Writers
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Copyright Acknowledgments v
  • Contents ix
  • Foreword xi
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • Introduction 1
  • Works Cited 19
  • Part One - Potential, but Untransformed New Adams 21
  • Part Two - New Adams Undergoing Transformation 63
  • Epilogue 129
  • Selected Bibliography 131
  • Index 137
  • About the Editor *
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