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The Study of Womanism in the Color Purple

Author LiZuo
Tutor DuanXiaoYing
School Hebei Normal
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords Womanism the Gender Order Spiritual Liberation
Type Master's thesis
Year 2011
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Alice Walker, an American black writer, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize owing to her epistolary novel The Color Purple, which has become the feminism canon of contemporary Western literature. The story profoundly reveals the erosion of patriarchal thoughts for black men and black women, and also shows that black women were suffering both discrimination of race and gender in that time. Alice Walker tried to deconstruct the patriarchal culture consciousness and gender order, and highlighted the strong female consciousness in The Color Purple. In the novel, Walker firstly proposed the term“womanism”, which is influential for the study of black female. The basic position of womanism is consistent with traditional feminist. Womanism focuses on the liberation of colored women. It also expresses a wish that different race and different gender of the world transfer from confrontation to harmonious coexistence, so as to realize the concept of complete mankind survival. The core thought of womanism gets rid of the exclusive feature of traditional feminism, and has a vision of integral survival of all people, including men and women. Integral survival is actually a central idea of womanism, which is widely demonstrated in Walker’s literature.Accordingly, this paper will be dedicated to the study of womanism in The Color Purple. This paper is consisted of three chapters added with an introduction and conclusion. After a brief introduction to Alice Walker and The Color Purple and an overall review of the criticism on Alice Walker’s works home and abroad as well as an introduction to the ideology of womanism, the first chapter of this paper is devoted to the study of the change and progress of black women in the new era from aspects of social status and economic conditions. Pursuit of independence is one important aim of womanism, and it is also embodied in the novel. In her masterpiece The Color Purple, Walker depicted the double depression upon the black women, and analyzed the social root of the problem. She pointed out that women want to get real independence, and they need both spirit independent and material independent. This novel also reflects the change of social status of black female in that time. The author thought that the racial consciousness of the black need to be awakened, and the glorious tradition need to be got back, and then the status of the black in the society can be improved. In this novel, she wanted to show us that it could finally promote the unity and progress of the black by facing up and solving internal problems among the black. In The Color Purple, Walker infused strong political pursuit, and requested to break racial discrimination, and called for equality of human society.The second chapter of this paper analyzes gender dualism and gender hierarchies from the perspective of womanism. Walker tried to eliminate gender dualism in The Color Purple in sorts of plots and details. This novel subverted the traditional gender hierarchies. Narrating the stories of Celie and her sisters in the novel, Alice Walker not only deconstructed gender dualism in the patriarchal culture, and subverted the gender hierarchy of male strong female weak.The third chapter is concerned with miserable life of Celie and the awakening of women’s consciousness and spirit liberation . The success of The Color Purple is contributed to the courage of the heroine Celie to achieve success of spiritual liberation. This paper discusses that Celie never give up struggling for their political and spiritual liberation, and discusses the relationships of man and woman from a perspective of the betrayal and the selfless love.Finally, the conclusion serves the realistic significance of Walker’s ideology. The ideology and connation of womanism reflected in The color purple aroused the folly and numb black women, and pointed out the way for black women’s independence and liberation, and guided them to achieve revival and harmonious coexistence with men.

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