Writing on Women Writers

A site for college students to write about women writers.

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A Gift From Somewhere by Ama Ata Aidoo is about this women, Mami Fanti, who has lost three children and was on the verge of losing her fourth child. Her fourth child has a weak heart and lacks nourishment. Occasionally, a religious man, known as Mallam  would come by the village and “perform miracles”.  Mallam tells Mami Fanti that her  son will actually live. However, once Mallam sees how sick the boy actually is, runs away before he could be blamed for the boy’s death. A miracle does happen and the boy does end up surviving and the mother continues to keep doing what Mallam had told her to do. Unfortunately, they live with an abusive father who does not seem to like anything that Mami does for the boy, but she is dependent on him. Usually Mami does not step in when the father is beating or when he disciplines the child: “I had made up my mind never to interfere in any manner he chose to punish the children, for after all, they are his too” (851), but this particular time she felt that “he was going too far” (851). She rushes in and saves her son, Nyamekye, and receives a vicious blow.  Mami Fanti is happy after this because she had saved Nyamekye and his life was a gift to her.


The title of the story, I think says it all, “A Gift From Somewhere”, implying that the gift of life, regardless of where it came from, all that matters is that it is there. I think Aidoo wanted to leave the readers with the feeling that we should not take anything for granted, and reminds us how precious life is.


Fun Fact: Ama Ata Aidoo has a twitter. Link below.



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The Yellow Wallpaper

Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s, The Yellow Wallpaper, opens reader eyes to the medical community, specially their views on mental illness, in the 1800’s. The main character,a woman who remains nameless, has misdiagnosing of her mental illness and it taken to a sequestered home with her husband John, a physician, to hopefully get better. Anthropomorphism (to attribute a human personality or form to an inanimate object) plays an integral part throughout the short story.

“I get positively angry with the impertinence of it,and the everlastingness. Up and down and sideways they crawl, and those absurd unblinking eyes are everywhere. There is one place where two breadths didn’t match; and the eyes go all up and down the line, one a little higher than the other. I never saw so much expression in an inanimate thing before, and we all know how much expression inanimate things have! I used to lie awake as a child, and get more entertainment and terror out of blank walls and plain furniture than most children could find in a toystore. I remember what a kindly wink the knobs of our big old bureau used to have, and there was one chair that always seemed like a strong friend” (267).


“The front pattern does move-and no wonder!

The woman behind shakes it! Sometimes I think there are great many women behind, and sometimes only one and she crawls around fast. And her crawling shakes it all over” (272).

“If only that top pattern could be gotten off from the under one! I mean to try tearing it, little by little” (272).


As the story progresses, an obvious conclusion can be drawn that the main characters mental condition steadily decreases. Writing seems to help her express her thoughts but subsequently exhausts her. As she is left alone, which is often due to the rest cure, it soothes her but heightens her mental instability at great lengths. While in her solitary confinement, she begins to stare at and relate to the wallpaper. She becomes infatuated with the paper and tearing it off the wall. It seems as though the more she intently examines the paper, the sicker she gets and wants to escape (specifically jumping out the window is something she refers to as an “admirable exercise” (273).

“”I’ve got out at last,” said I, “in spite of you and Jane! And I’ve pulled off most of the paper, so you can’t put me back!”

Now why should that man have fainted?

But he did, and right across my path by the wall, so that I had creep over him!” (274).


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A Room of One’

In Virginia Woolf’s essay A Room of One’s Own; Woolf writes of incandescent mind.  Woolf mentions having a “unity of mind” a writer must possess.

The passage:

“Clearly the mind is always altering its focus, and bringing the world into different perspectives. But some of these states of mind seem, even if adopted spontaneously, to be less comfortable than others. In order to keep oneself continuing in them one is unconsciously holding something back, and gradually the repression becomes an effort. But there may be some state of mind in which one could continue without an effort because nothing is required to be held back.” (63)

Woolf seems to be admitting that a state of mind that is disconnected from the rest of mind will negate the incandescence. For instance, if a mind is angry, you must try and unify your mind so that you are able to reach a state of mind where “nothing is required to be held back.”