Clearly, Carl Jung makes people happy….
Archetypal Symbolism in Possessing the Secret of Joy
Southern Literary Journal
Alice Walker’s fifth novel, Possessing the Secret of Joy (1992), marks a new beginning for an author/activist who explicitly appropriates Carl Jung’s archetypal patterns of the ego, the shadow, the anima/animus, and the Self in a psychological process that promises individual harmony and wholeness for those earnestly seeking self-knowledge and well-being. It is worth noting that at the beginning of her writing career, Walker embraced the national ethos of protest, resistance, and liberation that defined the revolutionary 1960s, and her involvement in the Civil Rights Movement, especially in the segregated South, was a sign of her profound commitment to changing society and to being a viable part of the struggle for African American liberation and women’s freedom from the exterior forces of oppression. With the political assassinations of the 1960s, however, Walker, as made clear in Meridian (1976), experienced the pathos of a somewhat successful but now aborted movement. Significantly, then, Walker shifted her authorial emphasis from the external conditions of society to the internal psychological development of the individual, and in Possessing the Secret of Joy, she turned specifically to Carl Jung, who has written extensively about the individuation process with its aims of bringing the questing individual to a state of spiritual maturity and peace.