The four main men in Possessing the Secret of Joy have roles that contradict a stereotypical male; they are the cure to Tashi’s happiness. Alice Walker gives Adam, Mzee, Pierre, and Benny roles that show a softer side to men. These four men are very different from each other but they do have some resemblance of each other. These men who were all very devotedly attached to Tashi took care of her and never gave up on her. Instead of deceiving and being indolent, these four men were very likeable. The men tend to symbolize and represent different aspects of Tashi’s life. Tashi’s husband Adam symbolized love.
He was the only lover of Tashi that we read about. He cared for her and watched over her even when he did not have control over her. Adam may not have been loyal to Evelyn, but he loved her and took care of her. He knew the real Tashi that many people never saw. He was loyal to Tashi, but after the circumcision he would barely ever see her. He was more of a great friend than a good husband was. He lets her know that he loves her several times in the book. At their marriage he cuts the same lines in his face as Tashi had to represent the Olinkans. He goes with her to Mzee’s house in Switzerland while she is cured.
He also dreams about her and her livelihood, like when she used to say, “But what is it? ” when she was happy. Adam, Olivia’s brother, was daring at heart. He and Tashi used to go the fields to have sex that was considered very taboo. His mentors were Lisette and Pierre. He learned from them. He was in love with Lisette. She was the contrast to Tashi. She was the opposite of her. Adam probably would have rather lived in France with her, but he stood by Tashi to give her love and affection. Adam was not a bad guy at all. He helped Tashi through the years and was always there whenever she needed somebody.
It was unfair of him to be cheating on Tashi with Lisette, and Tashi resented him for that. He was always honest with Tashi though. Adam, like many of the other men in this book, was not a terrible person. He was good at heart. He stood by Tashi and gave her love, a house, family, and as much happiness as he could. He loved her as a friend but he wasn’t very helpful in the family aspect. Without his love and support, Tashi would not have made it nearly as far as she did. Mzee represented a cure and was like a fatherly figure to Tashi. Mzee was Tashi’s therapist. He never got down to the problem though.
He let her sickness cure itself. It wasn’t until Raye, the female therapist, that Tashi’s issue was brought out into the open to discuss. Mzee protected Tashi. He wanted her to get better. He didn’t like to see her pain, but because he was a male, he didn’t discuss circumcision and her female problems. He was an old man who reminded me of a witch doctor. His practice was very different than anyone’s, but Tashi trusted him and let him help her recover. Tashi and Adam went to Mzee’s house in Switzerland where he played a clip from one of his trips. For days Tashi drew the chicken and the foot that was in the movie.
She made several diagrams and ended up painting a huge one on the wall. She passed out for days. Mzee had unlocked a door in the back of her head that let out bad memories that she had not thought about in years. While they were there she went sailing. Perhaps this was one of the only times Evelyn was truly happy and enjoying herself. She was invigorated by the experience. Mzee was like a fatherly figure that watched over her as a family member would. He gave her inconsequential love, no matter how much damage she caused just like Adam had. He was very wise and had a good job.
Just like the other men in the story, he was a good person who helped cure Tashi. Pierre symbolized education and friendship. Pierre was Adam and Lisettes son. Tashi resented him because of that. Pierre wanted so much to have Tashi love him or at least like him. At first Tashi did not even want to give him a chance. When Pierre pulled up to Tashi’s house, she hailed him with a pile of stones. Instead of beating her, yelling at her, or not forgiving her, he gives her a second chance. He was incredibly smart, and he even goes to an Ivy League college close to Adam and Tashi’s house.
At first Tashi looks at him as her husband and mistresses son. He is the opposite of her son. He comes to her asking for love and she doesn’t freely give it to him. After a while, she comes to like Pierre and possibly even love him. They become confidantes to each other. He also was very close to Adam. Adam was the father that was not always there, but Pierre didn’t take offense to that. When he became closer to Tashi, he would read her passages of texts that he had read. He would also tell he stories. He wanted he to be included in his life when Lisette died. Even though Tashi didn’t want to give him a chance, he never gave up.
He showed her true friendship and venerated her. He taught her things that she knew and showed her different ways to look at the stuff she already knew. Even though he let us know that he was bisexual, his view as a ma did not change, and he even gained respect for being honest with himself. He helped Tashi’s last years become more enjoyable than they had previously been. Benny, Adam and Tashi’s son symbolized memories and innocence. Benny was mentally disabled. I was led to believe this because he probably had birth deformations. His brain or head may have been bruised during pregnancy.
He was very loyal to Tashi. After Olivia, he became Tashi’s best friend. He doesn’t remember anything well so he carried around a journal that he wrote in all the time to record things that happened or things someone said. He records memories in order to remember things that have happened, as opposed to Tashi who puts memories in the back of her mind in order to forget about them. He looked up to Tashi. She was a strong person to him. He was like a little kid who was never too proud to learn or try to learn. He was also very curious about life and afterlife. He knew his mother more than anyone.
When she was in jail he noticed someone different from the mother he usually confronted. “I liked the person my mother was in prison. She was warm and comfortable, as if she were an entirely different person than the driven, frowning mother I’d always known”. He also comments on how he has never forgotten that Tashi is his mother. He also shows Tashi unconditional love. Tashi looked at him like her true son who was a true friend to her, and would take care of her if she ever needed help. These four men represented different parts of Tashi’s life. They showed her love, which was one of the cures to her.
Without them she could not have lasted nearly as long as she did. They are strong characters that show a female true love and friendship through all times, not like other males in some of the stories such as “Everyday Use”, Foxfire, and “The yellow Wallpaper”. Alice Walker wrote a book about a woman struggling and her life as a female in a tribe, America, and in a court without bashing males in the meanwhile. Walker doesn’t blame men for Tashi having a rough life. Adam, Mzee, Pierre, and Benny are all likeable characters whose purpose is to save and remedy their beloved Tashi.