The Natural Woman in the Literature of Wilma Dykeman and Barbara Kingsolver

Wilma Dykeman and Barbara Kingsolver examine the themes of environmentalism and feminism in The Tall Woman and Flight Behavior. The authors write against the common stereotype of people from Southern Appalachia being ignorant or apathetic about environmental issues. Both novels feature empowering female protagonists whose close relationship with the land allows them to recognize environmental threats and devastation. In the paper I use an ecofeminist lens to demonstrate how the female protagonists fight against environmental destruction by teaching their communities about the reality of environmental issues. Ultimately the female protagonists in each novel are introduced to how an environmental issue can create tension in a community with different beliefs and change the conversation.

Read alongside works of nonfiction by each author, the novels of Wilma Dykeman and Barbara Kingsolver convey a message about how Southern Appalachia is faced with environmental issues; Dykeman focuses on water pollution and Kingsolver focuses on climate change. Therefore both authors want their readers to understand that these threats are a reality that will damage the aesthetic and spiritual beauty of Southern Appalachia.