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The Color Purple: Black Women’s Quest for Identity

Author ZhangYuHong
Tutor SuoYuHuan
School Shanghai Jiaotong University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords The Color Purple womanism black women quest for identity
Type Master's thesis
Year 2007
Downloads 1055
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Since the 1970s, African -American literature has taken on a new look, and a group of African-American women writers have claimed nationwide reputation. Alice Walker is one of the most influential African-American women writers. She attracted attention from American literary critical world with her novel: The Color Purple, which portrays the oppressed black women’s miserable life. It won her the 1983 Pulitzer Prize and the American Book Award, and it was nominated for the 1982 National Book Critics Circle Award. The novel was adapted for the screen in 1986 by the director Steven Spielberg and ignited some controversy. This masterpiece occupies a vital place in the histories of both Black literature and American literature.Alice Walker’s writing abounds with originality and profundity. Her works are quite different from those of the traditional black male writers and the white female writers. The black male writers mainly focus their attention on the racial oppression and discrimination that black Americans have suffered in White America; the white women writers only reveal the humiliating and suffocating sexual discrimination. But Alice Walker describes the miserable life of black women under the double oppressions of racialism and sexism. The Color Purple portrays new images of black women who were raped, beaten, and separated, but who fought, struggled and survived. This thesis tries to systematically analyze how black women loose, struggle for and achieve female identity in the dynamic American society from the perspective of womanism.The First Chapter is an introductive part, including some information about Alice Walker’s life and works, the background of The Color Purple and accomplished research on the novel.The Second Part describes and analyzes how black women fell victim to family violence, sexual and racial discrimination.Chapter Three discusses the various means by which black women protected themselves, maintained their dreams, helped each other and turned to African culture for both refuge and home.Chapter Four delineates how black women retrieved their rights over their bodies, marriage and beliefs. Trough strenuous struggles and efforts, black women finally could live well without men, choose the right men and adopt their own view of men, society and religion.Chapter Five, as a conclusive part, makes a summary of the thesis and relates the specific meaning of the color purple to the historical significance of the novel. By contemplating on the third color purple rather than black and white, Alice Walker recommends for the black woman a unique sensible solution to their double problems: racial and sexual prejudice and persecution. That makes The Color Purple perpetually invigorating and fascinating.

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