The novel “The Inhabited Woman” by Giaconda Belli addresses the role of female empowerment and strength in the context of humanity and its relationship to nature. The story considers the transformation of a woman striving for equal footing in a largely male-dominated environment. This novel reflects a greater understanding of the different perspectives of individuals and their perceptions of the natural environment. This book also considers the role of nature and the ability of human beings to reflect upon relationships and how individuals behave around each other. It is these behaviors that shape the lives of human beings and support the development of new ideas and choices that impact the self and others in their circle. The author’s perspective will be conveyed in the following paragraphs and will address the protagonist’s journey through life and love.
Belli’s book explores the different dimensions of the human experience and racial identity that are conveyed through the understanding of behaviors that capture the natural spirit and the surrounding environment. The author states that “Neither men nor nature are condemned to eternal death. Death and life are but two faces of the moon, one bright and the other dark” (Belli 367). This quote represents a means of exploring the story and the dimensions of nature as it relates to life and death because individuals often question life, death, and the unknown. There are critical issues to consider with the creation of an environment that embraces life and how nature unfolds around human beings and plays a role in the surrounding environment.
The circumstances that human beings face are highly variable and diverse, yet they demonstrate the unique challenges associated with nature and the transformation of the human spirit in its natural form, accompanied by the beliefs associated with ideology and culture in this environment. The book describes the heroine Lavinia, a woman living in Nicaragua that possesses her inner being, is challenging because it conveys the beliefs that Lavinia has regarding her own life and the fate that she will encounter. This is not necessarily what will actually happen, but Lavinia appears to be inhabited and overtaken by Itza to the degree that she cannot see outside of this experience.
Females and their roles in society are explored in the book through various examples of friendship, camaraderie and romanticism. Lavinia is a strong woman in many ways, but she also demonstrates her vulnerability and confusion in other areas. She is inhabited by the spirit of Itza, which seems to make her fearful of the future and what it might bring to her life. However, she embraces nature and the ability to reflect upon how her history has established the tone for the incidents of her own life. Historically, the book reflects a deeply rooted set of principles and freedoms that serve as the backdrop for Lavinia’s life and ambitions (Lorente-Murphy 1). The book explores Lavinia’s perspective regarding her true aspirations and her perspective of her own journey. Furthermore, the story reflects a means of evaluating Lavinia’s perspective through a complex and intricate storytelling approach that is effective and unique in expressing the history and freedoms of the Nicaraguan people and their culture (De Frenne 1). The story demonstrates Lavinia’s understanding of her culture and how it is reflected in her daily encounters within her family and with others in her circle.
The concept of “The Inhabited Woman” is that of reflection and strength, whereby a woman such as Lavinia addresses the importance of her relationships in shaping her life and the true meaning of the spirit of Itza and its significance. At the same time, Lavinia is perhaps portrayed as a heroine, which may be viewed as a “mirror” of the perceptions that others give: “women feel the need for contemplation in the “mirror” female characters that transcend their traditional roles, characters that are in the text of the escritoras today” (Mirror Source 314). This is an important and relevant contributor to the discussion of Lavinia as a woman with perhaps a unique perspective on society and her role as a woman that is not submissive to her male counterparts and instead strives to be independent and to stand on her own two feet (Mirror Source 314). Lavinia is perhaps perplexed by the challenges that she faces simply by being a woman; therefore, she strives to understand how she might be more significant within her culture and familial context.
One of the key examples of nature that is addressed throughout the book is that of orange, exemplified in orange blossoms and the orange tree. This example of nature is a key component of Lavinia’s life experiences in her hometown, whereby she was able to witness some degree of peace and serenity as reflected in her home. Lavinia appears to recognize that her home environment is not only peaceful, but it is familiar, which represents her ability to explore new ideas and to embrace her surroundings effectively. Lavinia’s home environment are unique and demonstrate the importance of her ability to be one with her environment and to be herself, in spite of the challenges of being an independent female in a male-dominated society.
For Lavinia, there was a considerable desire to hold on her independence and her willingness to give in to the demands of her male-dominated surroundings. In this capacity, Lavinia’s perceptions of marriage are described as follows: “Perhaps some day she would like to get married, but not now. Getting married meant limiting yourself, giving in. A very special man would have to appear along the way. Maybe not even then. They could live together. They wouldn’t need “papers” to legalize their love” (Belli 22). In this context, Lavinia does not appear to want to compromise her principles at the expense of a man, as she sought to better understand herself before she wanted to share herself with somebody else. At the same time, Lavinia was not accepting of the age-old tradition of marriage in the context that she believed it would make her less independent and perhaps less of a woman. This was a challenging concept and possible reality that Lavinia was not willing to accept as her own destiny. Therefore, she sought a different path in her life for the time being, one that would enable her to remain independent as much as possible to ensure that she would be able to maintain her identity and recognize herself as she wanted to be. The author also recognized that in her situation to date, she could not easily escape her conditions and faced considerable problems in her efforts to overcome adversity and the life that she was meant to live as a member of society. However, Lavinia wanted more for herself and sought to better understand her surroundings because she seemed to feel that they were limiting in some ways. On the other hand, Lavinia appeared to be resolved to a specific life and a set of events had were not necessarily what she wanted. Nonetheless, it was important for Lavinia to create an environment for herself where she could possess strength and courage under challenging circumstances. However, Lavinia recognized her limitations and how they prevented her from the benefits of life that she truly deserved. In addition, she was resolved to her fate as prescribed by the spirit of Itza. As a result, it was important for Lavinia to recognize the parts of her natural environment that were comforting and supportive of her life’s goals and objectives.
For the author, Lavinia’s role as a heroine and storyteller represent her vision and purpose in writing this book. She sought to convey the rich tradition and cultural history of Lavinia’s Nicaraguan roots while also considering the limitations that were brought to the table. These efforts demonstrate that Lavinia’s life was complex and difficult in many ways, as depicted by her culture and the ideas that this history represents. In addition, Lavinia is a unique study because she conveys the principles of independence and feminism in a culture that does not embrace these ideals. This was an important concept because it reflects the author’s approach to discussing the importance of females in all cultures, not only as caregivers and bearers of children, but also as independent thinkers and contributors to society. It is also evident that although Lavinia struggled with her place in society, she nonetheless recognized that nobody could take away her mind and the thoughts that she had, so she remained independent in this regard. (My own words)
According to the author, Lavinia “had the right to dream of being something, of being independent. And Aunt Ines paved the way for her before she died. She willed Lavinia the house with the orange tree and everything in it, ‘for when she wanted to be alone’” (Belli 11). This example is relevant because it conveys the importance of the thoughts and perspectives of the independent spirit that prevailed throughout Lavinia’s life, particularly when she could get out of her own head and become one with nature and her surroundings. This was an important and meaningful tool for Lavinia in her own life and gave her hope and opportunity when she might not have observed it in any other form. Lavinia’s culture is ingrained in her being and represents her fighting spirit as demonstrated to her unique connection to Itza as symbolized by an orange tree (Walter 68). In addition, this perspective represents a means of exploring her culture more deeply and the traditions that are deeply rooted in this environment and in her surroundings (Walter 68).
Lavinia’s own life events are important indicators of a culture that was deeply rooted in tradition and customary male/female roles. In spite of the roles, Lavinia did not prescribe to any predetermined formula and instead sought her own path of discovery and strength. This was an important perspective as conveyed by the author because she sought to better understand the strengths and limitations of Lavinia was largely identified as a product of her culture and status as a woman. However, Lavinia was much more than what her culture wanted her to be, and therefore, she wanted to show the world what she was made of. (my own words)
“The Inhabited Woman” conveys the importance of culture and identity as it intersects with nature and human beings. This juxtaposition of ideas is relevant because it reflects a greater understanding of the different perspectives that are conveyed through the thoughts and actions of the book’s heroine, Lavinia. This character is highly complex and multi-faceted in many ways and demonstrates a greater desire for independence and freedom than many other women in this culture. At the same time, her being is inhabited by the spirit of Itza, thereby creating an environment that is challenging for Lavinia because she recognizes that Itza faced much adversity in her life. This recognition is unsettling for Lavinia and demonstrates her fears and apprehension regarding her life.
For Lavinia, it is important to recognize that she wanted more for her life than her culture and identity were willing to give. Nonetheless, she sought to understand her role in society and to be equal to her male counterparts as much as possible. Lavinia is a complex and interesting character study because she supports a greater life for herself and wanted to be an active contributor to society. Her views regarding marriage are enlightening and support her vision and mission to become strong and independent, a force of nature to be reckoned with. The imagery of Lavinia’s natural surroundings is evident throughout the book and represents the development of new ideas and approaches to conveying the story of rich Latin American culture and its opportunities, as well as its limitations. Lavinia’s experiences represent a challenge to the reader because they describe a woman on a mission to maintain her independence and strength, in spite of what she is told to do by a male-dominated society. These examples are important because they convey the relevant nature of women in a culture that is heavily focused on men and their status over that of their female counterparts.
Belli, Gioconda. “The Inhabited Woman.” University of Wisconsin Press, 2005.
De Frenne, Kristien. “The set of parallels and contrasts in La Gioconda Belli Inhabited Woman.” Lorente-Murphy, Silvia. “From ideas to practice: the complexity of ethical proposals she inhabited by Gioconda Belli.“Mirror in Inhabited Woman’ by Gioconda Balli.” Pp. 312-319.
Walter, Roland. “Pan-American (Re)visions: magical realism and Amerindian cultures in Susan Power’s The Grass Dancer, Gioconda Belli’s La Mujer Habitada, Linda Hogan’s Power, and Mario Vargas Llosa’s El Hablador.” From American Studies International, 37.3(1999): 63-80.