Gender identity in Robert King’s Green Grass, Running Water is constantly overlapping and is developed from a native point of view. This deals majorly with the context of the invasion of the native values of communalism by the western ideologies of Christian patriarchy. The role of both men and women in the text is shown but women are the major ones who interest is centered on. Their role in the developing society mainly in the Blossom community is one that is highly remarkable and important.
In the case of the first woman, she depicts a society where women are given respect because of their intelligence and in helping in maintaining good relationships with other members of society. Women really try to maintain cohesiveness in society and this can be seen in the case where the first woman wants to share apples (King 70).
Hence we can say that in the book Green Grass, Running water, King paints the female character as one who wants to maintain good relationship between both living and non-living beings in the world. This can be seen to be the native values of communalism.
The idea about braiding strands of air is also depicted as a way in which the strength of women is shown when they are together, this helps withstand the outside forces and this can be seen as a resistance towards the new cultures. Women in this context are used a symbol to form a unit, which is to bring unity in society with which a people can fight external forces.
A literal example of “braiding in” can be seen in Lionel’s mother in her recipes, whenever she misses an ingredient, she finds a way of blending in some native ingredient to substitute the missing ingredients. This helps her prepare meals that are tasty and liked by all who eat them. For instance when Lionel asks her
“What is it?”
“Vegetable soup and artichoke omelet”
“Where’d you get the artichokes?”
“I had to substitute.”
“So, what’s in it now?”
“Elk” (Kings 81).
She is therefore innovative; she can use both native and modern recipes, an indicator of how both native and modern ways can be braided together for a better life.
The women in the story are brought out as epitomes that are overturning stereotypes and seeking to secure a respectable space in the Society of Green Grass, Running Water, for instance, Norma contributes towards the growth of the Blossom community.
As a woman in the community, she is the one who organizes other members in the rebuilding of Eli’s cabin together with that of her mother when the dam bursts its banks (King 170). She is also a source of counseling and guidance on Eli and Lionel. This shows how a woman can rise against all odds to be a visionary member of society and helpful to fellow women and men alike.
In as much as King uses men throughout the text, they have also contributed greatly to the growth of the plot to its climax but one thing that is for sure is the fact that women are the ones used to bridge the gap that has been created by the two worlds, that of the natives and that of the non-native. All aspects of both worlds are just but part of the great whole and therefore if both are taken positively, then both can stand each other.
Kings, Thomas. Green Grass, Running Water. New York, Houghton Mifflin, 1993