Alice Walker Poetry
Positivity And Negativity in “The Flowers” By Alice Walker
Childhood innocence is a concept portrayed within writing, television, and movies. A statement of innocence, naivety, and freedom from worries. The short story “The Flowers” by Alice Walker weaves a tale of a beautiful summer day and a young girl named Myop. With positive and negative connotations, she creates moods throughout the story. In “The Flowers” Alice Walker uses diction and imagery to create different moods.
Positivity is something we associate with kindness, happiness, cheerfulness, etc. In the first half of the story, Myop enjoys the “golden surprise” that is the summer day. Myop collects flowers, as well as explores the land her family owns. Walker describes Myop as feeling “light and good”. She is portraying the perfect example of childhood naivety. She wanders around the land, and she picks flowers as she goes. She remembers going around with her mother and picking acorns. This half of the story seems bright, happy, and silly. Some words that seem to support this idea are velvety, sweet, and bubbles. It creates the picture of a young girl relishing her day in the beautiful sun, acting as if she had no cares in the world. Seemingly, positivity is a mood given in the first half of this story.
Negativity, often portrayed as sadness or gloom, rears its ugly head in the second half of the story. While Myop wanders farther into the forest, collecting her flowers. As she realizes that it’s time to go home, she starts to head back, and “stepped smack into his eyes”. She was unafraid, ready to dislodge her heel from whatever was holding her. She looks down, and realizes she has stepped into the skull of a man. Walker illuminates Myop’s innocence by portraying her as unconcerned, until she realizes the man had been hung. As Myop lays down her flowers, Walker dramatizes the girl’s loss of naivety with the words “summer was over”. The mood of this half of the story seems gloomy, with word choices such as rotted, broken, and silence. The words sculpt an image of a horrified young girl who has just been changed by the awfulness of the world. Overall, negativity presents itself as a strong concept in the second half.
The clash of positive and negative in this piece bring together the envisionment of Myop’s journey past childhood and moving slowly into adulthood. She is shown the horrors of the world, furthermore bringing up the realization that her never ending summer is now over. With both cheerful and gloomy scenes, Walker paints the perfect moods to go with this story of a young girl.
Motherhood in Everyday Use and I Stand Here Ironing
In the story “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker and “I Stand Here Ironing” by Tillie Olsen, there are many things that are addressed because of how both of these mother’s feel guilt over how her children ultimately turned out. Both mother’s criticized themselves for their daughters issues. “I Stand Here Ironing” is about the Mousy daughters, while “Everyday Use” is about her two daughter Maggie and Dee. Both of these stories address multiple problems of a mother’s guilt over how her child will turn out in the future. Neither of these mothers say they feel guilty but there is evidence, like in “Everyday Use” when Dee is trying to take the quilts and the churn. In “I Stand Here Ironing” the mother explains why she feels guilty about her daughter Emily. She explains the things she did and didn’t do as a mother. Both of these stories are very similar and have many similarities and differences on how these mothers have parrented their daughters.
These two stories share very similar themes about motherhood. In “I Stand Here Ironing” the mother feels guilty about leaving her children in inadequate care to go to work to support her family. In both stories there are difficulties between siblings. In “Everyday Use” when Dee arrives she comes looking different and Maggie and Mama isn’t used to it. After the fight over the quilt Dee gets ready to leave and says to Maggie ‘You ought to try to make something of yourself, too, Maggie. It’s really a new day for us. But from the way you and Mama still live you’d never know it.’ (Walker 10382). Another similarity we see in both stories is both mothers comparing their daughters to each other. Again in “Everyday Use” Mama tells us that because Maggie was burned in a fire, “Dee is lighter than Maggie, with nicer hair and a fuller figure.” (Walker 10257). We also learned of Dee’s style, and how the other girl’s love to stare because of how fashionable she is. The mother in “I Stand Here Ironing” speaks of Emily as “dark and thin and foreign looking in a world where the prestige went to blondeness and curly hair and dimples, she was slow, where glibness was prized.” (Olsen 9977). Like Maggie, Emily had a physical disability also. She has asthma. Although both stories have similarities it Continues throughout both stories the theme of the sibling differences and sibling rivalries.
In “I Stand Here Ironing” Olsen illustrated the meaning of the iron, which can be compared to Walkers quilt in “Everyday Use.” In “I Stand Here Ironing,” The meaning of the creases means the hardships that the mother has had to face, and the iron means the back, and forth to make ends meet for your children. The mother explains that, “I stand here ironing, and what you ask me moves tormented back and forth with the iron.” (Olsen 9850). Her emotions from being a single mother are being poured onto that iron. Similarly, In “Everyday Use” the quilt symbolizes a way to mend conflict. Also heritage. The quilts go back from generation to generation and that is why Dee wants them. Theme of these stories seem to be motherhood and making sure your children have everything they need and making sure they are well respected and that they respect their elders as well.
In both short stories, the two parents were struggling to make ends meet. They were faced with the conflict of trying to be the best mothers they would and be what society expected of them. Being a mother was hard, especially when you have children with disabilities to care for. Both mothers of these mothers are poor, but at the same time learn more about motherhood than ever before. In both stories both of their daughters are opposites, one follows along with the trend of society while the other doesn’t. In “ I stand here ironing” the mother says “she was a child seldom smiled at. Her father left me before she was a year old. I worked six years when there was work, or I sent her home to his relatives.” (Olsen 9979) The mother here is alone and only wants the best for her daughter and in times like this you do what you have to do for the good of your child. At the end of both stories both mothers realize that there is more to motherhood than they thought they knew. But despite all of this both mothers want what is best for their child and at the end realize that there is more to motherhood than they initially believed and that no matter how old your child is, they are never too old to receive support.
In conclusion I think both of these mothers realize their daughters are okay the way they are. In the story “I Stand Here Ironing” the mother let her life go on without trying to make any attempt at trying to change it. She hopes that one day maybe her daughters won’t be like her and take control of their lives. In both stories both mother’s have ultimately come to accept their daughters limitations. Despite the hardships that each mother faced, each story ends with hope and the realization that unconditional love is more valuable. While these women sometimes lose control they still never lost their dignity. In both stories ‘Everyday Use’ and ‘I Stand Here Ironing’ there are two mothers who after reading would endure anything. They have overcome trauma, abandonment, and both had struggles with their chidlren but both women have seemed to keep a solid relationship with their family. Although both mother faced different struggles, they handled them with confidence. Emily and Dee’s mother, both, loved and provided for their children right until the last sentence. These women went through something that not many have gone through in life. They are strong women, with a gentle heart.
The Color Purple: Raft of Love and Bitterness
The Color Purple, by the American novelist Alice Walker, is not only intense and insightful, but a very thought-provoking book to read. By intense and thought-provoking, I am speaking about how the book touches and analyzes incredibly difficult and trifling aspects of the life of a poverty ridden, African American woman under oppression in the early twentieth century. The book is so highly thought of that Walker received the National Book Award for hard fiction, and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Walker received awards like these because she does things such as social criticism in her novel. Her social criticism mainly focuses on criticizing the way African American women were treated during the time period the book is set in. Walker uses the life experiences of character Celie to illustrate her social criticism in a way that really reaches out and grabs the reader. The way Walker puts these hard topics and situations into her writing stems from what she was born into in 1944 where oppression was very real for the African American population, especially the women.
In The Color Purple, Walker so unconventionally chose to tell the story through letters, giving the novel a style not many had read before. The novel tells the story of an oppressed African American women, the letters hold the upmost importance. Letters have been the way women have expressed themselves for years and at one-point in history letters were one of the few ways women could express what they were feeling or thinking. Alice Walker’s bold choice
presenting what she wanted to say in this novel through letters had a series of consequences some would say others would say that it was a risky move but showed her story and what she wanted to tell better. It is all up to the reader’s interpretation as they go through the book. The novel is told in different points of view as the letters throughout are written by different people. For instance, the writers of the letters set the tone for each section. As one of the writers is Celie an African American girl who left school at a young age and cannot write that well, or rather formulate as well as her sister, Nettie. Nettie is the other letter writer we see in the book. Nettie is more educated, and the letters read from her are perfectly formulated in standard English like most people know.
In the book there are only four openings we ever get to read, which are: ‘Dear God,’ ‘Dear Nettie,’ ‘Dear Celie,’ and the long opening of the last letter, which is a variation of ‘Dear God.’ These novel openings will be spoken on and analyzed further later, as they hold meaning. Before that, I would like to talk about the two sentences we see outside the letters. They appear at the beginning of the book in italics: ‘You better not never tell nobody but God. It’d kill your mammy.’ These are strong words or regulations to speak given by a powerful man to a weak-minded child. From this sentence we see why Celie understands that she must not communicate her desires, fears or horrors to a single person. She starts writing or addressing letters to God because He is the only thing, she considers herself to have left. The letters will not be read by anyone or are for anyone else. These letters are only a mean of self-analysis and soul searching for Celie. God is obviously not present as Celie request signals from him constantly and never receives them. In this first period of her life we see she is marked by what seems is unending loneliness. There is no use of the word we or speak of someone she can truly confide in, it is basically just her talking to herself. The only bond Celie manages to form is with hersister, Nettie. When Nettie leaves, Celie is back where she started, completely and utterly alone. She feels she is buried alive, trapped in her lonesome life. The most important character around her is her oppressor and he we do not know his name. Mr. is only a role the oppressor has in this novel.
Celie attempts to communicate through certain things, and you could say she succeeds without realizing her success. For instance, she embroiders the name of her child in her clothing, Olivia. The clothes help the child to keep her name which, is the only form of identity she has under the oppression she experiences, to be herself. This type of communication is not linguistic, it is not outspoken or through words. No, this type of communication has to do with the activities that were allowed for a woman at this time. Celie turns these activities into a means of expression. Celie is so immersed in the oppression she is going through that she accepts the point of view and thinking of her oppressor, Mr. She even goes so far as to advise Harpo to beat Sofia. Showing that she has the mindset of agreeance with her oppressor that women should only work, obey, and keep quiet. After this moment of deep humiliation, Celie has the first serious conversation or realization we see in the book. Sofia comes to see her, enraged and rightfully so, and Celie for once must express and explain her attitude and what went through her had that she could approve of such actions. She discovers she is jealous and intrigues with Sofia’s capacity to fight the oppression she is under. This conversation is an eye opener for Celie. Both women find a moment of community or gathering, they do something together and go through something together. From then on the pronoun ‘us’ is finally used in this novel: ‘I laugh. She laugh. Then us both laugh so hard us flop down on the step.’
When Shug comes to Celie’s life (she has seen this singer before in a photograph and has turned her into another God to observe and admire from afar), Celie is more than prepared. Shug does not help her, as Sofia did. Celie has to conquer her with the only tools she knows to use, the feminine activities she has always done. She cooks for her, helps her to take a bath, combs her. Celie performs many actions for her, no words are spoken, Celie cannot face language communication but even in silence, she communicates as we have seen her do many times previously. She gives life, and through this Shug does something that men have never done for Celie and thanks her. She dedicates her new song to Celie shows her that she is important and has worth. In the second part of Celie’s life she changes radically. She goes from supporting the oppression to encouraging women to fight the oppression they are experiencing. Celie begins to speak up she advises Squeak to make Harpo call her by her actual name, Mary Agnes, to keep her identity. She even develops when it comes to Mr. Celie starts to communicate and really express herself, even if at this point, she can only do so with women. She is yet to break her silence about her father and her children, but she is beginning to communicate with words as we see in this quote from the novel, ‘Me and Shug cook, talk, clean the house, talk, fix up the tree, talk, wake up in the morning, talk’.
The last period of Celie’s education starts when she discovers Nettie had not abandoned her. She finds out the first small ‘we’ she had with her sister was a reality, it wasn’t a mirage or an illusion it was real. At the beginning of the novel, when Sofia told her she should be angered beyond belief, Celie could not feel rage. Now, with Nettie’s letters in her hands, she is so angry and driven with this infuriated passion that only sewing pants restrains her from killing Mr. This rage is healthy for her, it wakes her up she stops writing to a God who doesn’t answer, and she begins to answer herself. We finally see real change in her here as we see so vividly in this quote, ‘I don’t write to God no more, I write to you,’ she says. ‘You’ is a real person, who will answer her. The God she was writing to before was a man, and a white man, she realizes suddenly. He was the oppressor: ‘The God I been praying and writing to is a man. And act just like all the other mens I know. Trifling, forgitful and lowdown’.
How Is The Epistolary Form Used in The Color Purple by Alice Walker
“Voice is all about your originality and having the courage to express it.” – Rachelle GardnerThrough the use of Epistolary, Black English and Standard American English, Alice Walker distinguishes unique voices between the two writers in the Color Purple.Epistolary is define as a novel composed primarily of letters. Letter writing is a type of novel writing used more consistently by women. The letters allow authors to express feelings and share reflections. From the Journal of Graduate School of Social Sciences, an article describes “epistolary as a powerful genre for women writers interested in using novel to examine modern society.”
Alice Walker had the aim of exposing almost everything, especially the status, emotions, sexuality and role, of women in their societies through the epistolary technique in their works. Epistolary adds a level a realness that omniscient narrators cannot fully express. The realness that is created in The Color Purple connects the reader and writer intimately. When an author uses epistolary, he/she has the ability to create key distinctions between the characters.In The Color Purple, Alice Walker has a pair of sisters telling their life’s story; Celie is writing her confessions to God and Nettie is writing to her sister. Each sister has their own writing style because they have completely different levels of education. The Color Purple is the process of Celie’s writing herself into being and consciousness.The expressive style for Celie’s letters, which draw heavily upon dialect features of Black English.
Celie writes using a style of English called Black English because she did not receive a good education and had a horrible home life. BE can be defined as a nonstandard form of English spoken by uneducated people during the 1900’s. Celie begins writing because in her environment she has no voice. Celie’s lack of voice gives purpose to the letters which eventually allows her to re-gains a kind of existence and identity. In her earliest letters she wrote to God the naiveté resembles a small child. The letters are short and contain graphic descriptions of Celie’s sexual experiences at the hands of her stepfather. The naiveté is easily seen in how she writes about her experience; it is short, dramatic with blunt detail. Celie’s narrating voice does not change in the novel however how she expresses her thoughts have become more sophisticated. Her letters go from short and choppy to a more elegant paragraph style . Her conjugation of verbs are jumbled. The plural forms of nouns have irregular endings. Celie use several double negatives and her pronouns are non-standard. The words on the pages match the phonetic spelling of speech. Her writing has its own lexicon, grammar (inflections, syntax and rules) and phonology.In contrast to Celie’s naive writing, Nettie has a more mature educated style of writing due to her time spent working with missionaries. Nettie’s letters capture the style and tone of missionary magazines of the early twentieth century, being careful, earnest and scholarly in tone. Celie’s grammar is different from the Standard English that her sister Nettie uses. Netties writing is more educated, has lengthy paragraphs, and uses latinate vocabulary. She sticks to the rigid faculty of Standard American English.Standard American English is a version of the English language used in professional communication in the United States and taught in American schools.
In Celie’s letters, “Walker makes extensive use of idioms and vocabulary that are particularly found in the rural South of the United States.”Walker creates a contrast between African-American vernacular language and the rigid linguistic style of Standard English and ironically both styles are written by black characters. The difference can be seen in Celie’s flexibility of language, supposedly an inferior form of speech whereas Nettie sticks the more rigid codes of Standard American English. Alice Walker uses epistolary to grow Celie through the book and also uses it to create contrast between Celie and Nettie. Through the eyes of Celie, Walker presents such a realistic picture of the conditions of the black that no-one can even think of any kind of exaggeration.
A Literary Review of Everyday Use by Alice Walker
Alice Walker’s Everyday Use, included in the In Love and Trouble short story collection, was published in 1973, a moment in history known as the ‘Black Power Movement’. This movement encouraged racial pride and equality. Everyday Use relates the struggles of African American women due to their racial identity, although the story is about the contrast between two sisters and the struggle of heritage. Alice Walker represents the situation of the black society in America through the relationship of three women, Mrs. Johnsons and her two daughters. The author also uses the narrative to project meaning into the story, as it is related on a personal way through the narrator, the character of Mrs. Johnsons. This essay portrays the application of two theoretical concepts from different schools of thought, which are the theories of Marxism and Psychoanalysis, to analyze the work of Everyday Use.
Marxist theories defend a classless society, arguing that classes divides society. By analyzing Alice Walker’s Everyday Use, one can identify some basic concepts such as classism or capitalism. The story develops in the late 1900s in the South. It presents a poor family, composed by a single mother and her two children, struggling to survive.
In Everyday Use, we see the effect that classism has on society, because of this, it is a shattered society divided by the wealth that one owns, where only the richest can afford the best of everything. Likewise, in Everyday Use, we appreciate how classism has affected a modest family in hardship. The Johnson family belongs to a class that has few opportunities and resources. However, Dee had the rare but also extraordinary opportunity to go to college and receive an education, in contrast to her sister Maggie. In most societies, education is a symbol of success, social class, status, and power. After having received an education, Dee does not identify herself anymore with her family due to their low class and social position, so she decides to change her name. She says: “I couldn’t bear it any longer, being named after the people who oppress me”. The story portrays Dee as a very fortunate child that has achieved an education, but she also seems to have forgotten her roots and the difficulties that surrounded her during her growth. Then, Dee appears at her mother’s house selfishly and ungratefully, rarely dressed for herself. Marxist Theory tries to remove the impact of classism on society, as we can relate to Maggie by the manner in which her sister approaches her, treating her as a different person.
Capitalist ideologies can also be recognized in Everyday Use, as well as competence or the American dream. The competition is evident because in the story, Dee is constantly selfish with her sister and acts with her as if she doesn’t understand what she’s talking about, she intellectually superimposes herself for having gone to college. The American dream was understood as the willing to fight for a better life. This theory is projected in the character of Dee, who has always dreamed and hoped for a better life, unlike his mother and sister that have not yet done so. Dee is proud of the person she has become, but this also makes her ashamed of her family. This is demonstrated by Dee’s words to her sister: Dee’s thought about her family are shown through her behavior and attitude to them. “Maggie can’t appreciate these quilts!…she’d probably be backward enough to put them to everyday use”. She thinks that Maggie doesn’t deserve the quilts (those were ancient clothing patches from the family) because she is ignorant and she wouldn’t give the respect they deserved. Dee considers herself above the standards of her environment for having gone to college and receiving an education. It is because of this distinction that she considers herself part of the American dream. She was born into poverty and thanks to the help of her family and community she was able to go to school and become a better person. Since that moment, she no longer considers herself part of the poor community in which she grew up. Because of this, she believes her family is ignorant and stupid, focusing more on herself and less on her family. Marxism totally opposes to this dream, arguing that not everyone has the same opportunities or resources available to achieve it, as in the story, where Maggie never had the same opportunities as Dee and they could not aspire to an education. Marxism blames the American dream for illusions that cannot be fulfilled.
The psychoanalysis part of the work has much to see with the concept of ‘double consciousness’, understood as the awareness of belonging to two different and contrasting cultures, that appears in Dee’s character. After going to college, her personality totally changes as she has joined a ‘higher status’ than her family, when it was her family who helped financially to go to college. This double consciousness makes her attitude more arrogant, as she belongs to the African America community where she grew up, but she also considers herself part of a more elevated and educated class by attending to college. This analysis also includes the image that Dee creates of herself by denying that she comes from a poor family, or avoiding to remember the past. This image is a ‘psychological wall’ behind which she hides his past and through which she shows his new personality and way of life.
Themes Of Identity Fabrication And Ethnological Heritage in “Everyday Use” By Alice Walker
The post-Reconstruction paradigm of the mid-twentieth century West gave rise to a body of literature in which wordsmiths from marginalized castes penned compositions that highlighted the pervasive institutional inequities of their respective social microcosms. Beget of this period of civil dissension, “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker is a piece of short prose that examines conceptions of identity fabrication within the greater African diaspora and the meaning of ethnological heritage when juxtaposed with interpretations of the familiar past. Walker reduces the aforementioned sociological abstractions into their constituent parts by refracting them through a prism of intra-familial strife amidst the communal mores of the agrarian South; in essence, the author’s use of characterization as thematic symbolism concurrently exposes and subverts the audience’s internal assumptions about the structural aspects of cultural Africana. Thus, the dramatis personae of Dee, Hakim-a-barber, Maggie, and Momma respectively contribute to the overarching definition of the principal motif.
In order to attain a lucid understanding of what Walker is endeavoring to convey, one must first determine the machinations of each character as if parsing delicate hairs with a fine-toothed comb. The narrative begins with the family matriarch, Momma, waiting outside of her abode for the arrival of Dee from Augusta. This portion of the rising action is significant because it provides the reader with access to Momma’s stream of consciousness which informs ideations about the disposition of Dee before she appears in the text proper. Moreover, her recollections of Dee depict a woman who believes herself to be intellectually superior to the ancestral crucible that forged her and would force “words, lies…and whole lives” upon her immediate family. Underpinning Dee’s hubris is her contradictory attitude towards tradition which is revealed through her actions. While the decision to change her name to “Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo” may seem like a benign ploy to assimilate into a recently adopted political framework, Dee’s declaration to Momma that her old self is effectively “dead” illustrates her desire for excision from her heritage entirely; where the name “Dee” was carried by several of her matrilineal progenitors and inextricably binds Wangero to her family, the Africanized moniker is devoid of such substantive history which allows it to act as a medium of dissociation.
Furthermore, Wangero’s polaroid pictures, which are a Proustian reminder of the history she has escaped, and her insistence on displaying lineal artifacts for artistic consumption are in direct conflict with her ethnocentric posturing. By rejecting the practical uses of items, such as “Grandma Dee’s quilts” and the “chute top,” in favor of their expressive value as fashionable accoutrements, Wangero is indulging in the same process of commodification of the black experience exhibited by the Anglo-American aesthetes she professes to oppose.
Accordingly, the male companion that accompanies Wangero to her mother’s provincial home is involved in the cultural nationalism of a putative Mohammedan sect. The predilections of Hakim-a-barber, whom Momma initially refers to as “Asalamalakim,” are hollow and rife with artifice. For instance, he states that the dogma of the faith is acceptable but its emphasis on georgic pursuits is “not his style” (Walker 4). This utterance suggests that Hakim-a-barber’s adherence is not grounded in devotional authenticity or a comprehensive understanding of the foundational tenets of the religion; rather, it is merely a vehicle by which he can convey his enmity through factional diatribes and function as a proselytizing force with respect to Wangero. In short, both Hakim-a-barber and Wangero are representative of the misapplication of reformist ideals as they relate to the African-American struggle for ethnic esteem. Conversely, the characters of Maggie and Momma are emblematic of “hard clay floors” and “pork liver cooked over the open fire;” more specifically, their particular characterizations allude to a traditionalism that is incongruous with the more progressive philosophy of Wangero. While it should be noted that Momma and Maggie are both proponents of the same customs, the cause for said system of belief differs between them. While Maggie clings to the conventions of her environ out of necessity, Momma does so out of dedication to her forebears who taught her the craft of animal husbandry. Maggie is the antithesis of Wangero in the strictest sense; where Wangero is of a “light” complexion and in possession of a perspicacious intellect, Maggie has a Stygian hue with a mind that “…is not bright”. Coupled with the trauma of a childhood fire, it can be posited that Maggie holds on to the security that accompanies familiar tradition as a bulwark against the unpredictability of a world that has already scarred her. The summation of Momma’s viewpoint lies in her testimony that Wangero “…burned us with a lot of knowledge we didn’t necessarily need to know”. Here, Momma is clarifying that she is content with the breadth of her knowledge and her modest way of living.
Neither Walker’s text nor the characters elicited from her reason exist in a vacuum. With that being said, if Wangero had begun her pilgrimage to Augusta and subsequent conversion within the context of the contemporaneous, sociopolitical arena it is doubtful that she would be well received. Despite the intersectionality of post-modern feminism that ascribes a wide degree of latitude to assimilable positions, the militant nature and exclusionary measures of Wangero’s regard for African preeminence would be categorically rebuked; however, in the period of Walker’s America, Afrocentrism was a reactionary symptom of the far more insidious pathology that is racism. Additionally, her ideological inconsistencies, like when she first thought that the quilts were “…old-fashioned” before parlaying for the lot on her return home, could engender skepticism in a polarized era that craves fidelity from its public activists.
In closing, Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use” is still apropos to understanding a social dichotomy that has beleaguered the African-American community since its mass manumission in the time of Lincoln. A weaver of quilts in her own right, whose thread is diction and patches are syntactic arrangements, Walker illuminates the duality or bicameral consciousness that underscores an alienated community. Where there is that most basal of yearnings for rapid progress towards a future that will finally provide equity in opportunity, it is paralleled with the realization that the price may be acculturation and the loss of a rich, ethnological canon.
Portrayal of Parenthood and Inequality in Alice Walker’s Novel Meridian
Alice Walker’s Meridian is a novel which has drawn out a topic of parenthood. Walker shows how parenthood is ‘ a holy messenger of seeing life’ , ‘ of esteeming all life’, of opposing all that may obliterates it’ . She, as a champion of the ‘ womanist’ is concerned particularly on dark ladies who were profoundly distanced by the overwhelming white culture. As Karen Stein composes:..the novel calls attention to that the Civil Rights Movement regularly mirrored the harshness of man centric free enterprise. Activists simply turned political … Her expectation for another general public inheres political change, and additionally individual change. (66)
Meridian is the hero of the novel, which she needs to discover her personality to grow totally. Meridian is a school taught lady who battle for southern blacks to accomplish political and social uniformity. Through Meridian, Walker expects social changes with a specific end goal to do as such the hero of novel meridian moves in reverse so as to advance to look for the association between her own history and public history. Additionally, being the female hero, she stirs from her reliant status as a dark female, little girl, spouse and mother to her own self and tries to end up noticeably the maternal supplier of the bigger dark group. She is a ‘ looney’ lady who is physically and mentally manhandled. Like Phyllis Wheatley and Nella Larsen, she is given the chance to end up noticeably a special case, torn by “opposite impulses”. Furthermore, similar to the contemporary dark lady that walker imagines, meridian turns into a craftsman to extend her psyche with activity. Meridian goes into a bloodless transformation with the Christian order of adoring foe and peaceful way to deal with encounter. Meridian confers herself to the strengthening of ladies. When she was youthful, meridian is unadulterated, pure and cherishing. Mrs. Hill, mother of meridian discloses to her little girl about the necessities of being sweet. Along these lines, she has no comprehension of the alert against sex. Her first sexual experience happens for her in a burial service parlour.
Dexter, the neighbourhood memorial service parlour executive, pursues meridian, when she is just twelve he tries to persuade meridian about the attractive quality sex, he orchestrates her to witness his colleague’s enchantment of mother school young lady. the aide utilizes his voice and his body to ride the young lady with egotism, and after that coldly pushes and afterward drives her aside when his execution closes. Dexter’s collaborator feels that she is a reasonable diversion since she is dark lady and he wants to utilize her effortlessly as a result of her obscurity. Meridian is disinterested, even repulsed by the scene. what she recollects most is the” “greedy, obscene and ugly” face of the man (64).” no one in her family educate her “what to expect from men, from sex” (55). when she gets a sweetheart ( Eddie), Meridian has a sex as frequently as ” the darling” needs it: ‘sometimes every single night . And, since she had been told by some one’s hips become broader after sex, she looked carefully in her mirror each morning before she caught the bus to school. Her pregnancy came as a total shock’ (56). Actually like her mom , Meridian dislikes sex. She cherishes the gleam and peace. she continues sex since it gives her those things: ‘she would have been quite recently upbeat, more joyful, without it (61).
At the appointed time of time, she additionally comprehends the significance of sex and the energy of her body. it is simply in the wake of bringing forth Eddie Jr., she comprehends and realizes what is to a lady and mother. the very truth of turning into a mother conveys numerous confinements to her life. this makes her think: ‘so this is what slavery is like’ (65). irritated by her circumstance, she starts to dream every night of approaches to kill him. In trademark design, she is devoured without anyone else’s input uncertainty and reluctance. this leads her towards disappointment and even considerations off implosion and feeling of nothingness. Meridian dislikes her own pregnancies since she detests the way that nobody enables her to information her emotions. In male centric group, the lady who rejects her pregnancy does not know her place which demonstrates the contention between the ages. Another discouraging knowledge of pregnancy in Meridian’s life is her physical appearance that makes her once smooth skin ‘bloated and tight’ (59). Meridian stays at home as a result of the swollen stomach.
Meridian conveys a child and she is depleted via watching over the infant, who shouts, wanders aimlessly, looting Meridian for her rest, it took all that she needed to tend, and she needed to do it, her body incited not by her own wants, but rather by her child’s cries. So this, she murmured, and is the thing that servitude resembles. Revolting, she started to dream, every night, just before her infant conveyed cries, of approaches to kill him. She needs to get out her circumstance: ‘It seemed to her that the peace of approaching it: it is only out of her “reliance on suicide” that she maintains her sanity’ (66). Gloria Wade-Gayles watches this as ‘the true condition of womanhood trapped in the institution of motherhood’ (202-203). She promptly gives her child for reception and heads off to school where she ends up noticeably associated with the social liberties development. At that development, she feels that her kin appear to be her youngsters. Meridian encounters parenthood in the underlying phases of her life and afterward chooses to dispose of her own body Eddie Jr. to look for confirmation in a school to discover her own particular way and personality. Along these lines of discovering character empowers her to accomplish, the most astounding purpose of energy, thriving, wellbeing. Deborah E.McDowell in “The Self in Bloom; Alice Walker’s Meridian” says that she develops ‘a completeness of being’ (262). It is a sort of an adventure she takes from normal position to self-enlightened individual who has accomplished her selfhood and recognizes what is the reason and mission of her life. She starts as a customary dark female to end as confident individual, to comprehend herself, she has needed to experience endless trails and tests to discover the solutions for her inquiries in her psyche. therefore, she is produced ‘from a lady assaulted by racial and sexual persecution to a progressive character affecting activity and technique to convey opportunity to herself and other poor disappointed blacks in the south’ (Washington 148).
Truth is told in Black Women Novelists: The Development of a Tradition by Christian Barbara says, ‘Meridian’s journey for wholeness and her association in the social equality development is started by her sentiments of insufficiency in satisfying the measures of dark parenthood’ (47-48). Meridian needs to give some importance to her life as a person. She is stirred to her actual self, the minute she thinks about the Civil Rights Movement. The house in which Meridian has lived is shelled and pulverized, and the episodes goads Meridian to volunteer for the cause. At the base camp, she meets Truman. Before long they are showing together and getting beaten, captured, and imprisoned. To Meridian’s inclusion in the social equality development, her mom reacts: ‘As far as I’m concerned…you’ve wasted a year of your life fooling around with those people (Civil rights movements). The papers say they’re crazy. God separated the sheeps from the goats and the black folks from the white’ (M 83). Meridian lives during a time of decision. By surrendering her parts as ” Devoted spouse” and ” Loving Mother”. Meridian submits herself to the social equality battle, a dedication that acquires a grant to Saxon school. In the school, Meridian tries her best to fight against her forlornness and alters herself to school life. Meridian, as a volunteer in the Civil Rights Movement stands up to with the sentiment union and total duty.
She challenges with alternate volunteers against the town’s partitioned healing facility offices and she partakes in the opportunity walk to the congregation. In this manner, in joining the Civil Rights Movement she discovers her energy to raise her voice against isolation. Deborah.E.McDowell says ‘Meridian challenges her mother’s unquestioning acceptance of her secondary citizenship’ (267). In turmoil, the police thump her down and she is trampled by individuals’ running back what’s more, forward. The sheriff gets her by the hair and starts to punch her and kicking her in the back. She doesn’t shout expect as far as she could tell. Meridian has lost what individuals think about the concentration of private life: kids, guardians, individual love. Meridian, by association in the development, overlooks the occasions in her own past that once has kept her the bigger recorded setting of her lifespan. The chronicled setting for writer is customary or political history or might be social history.
Walker in a meeting with Claudia C.Tate talks about the structure and essentialness of Meridian and she discusses her sentiments of fear about the amount of the past, particularly of our past, gets overlooked. Meridian instructs ignorant people to peruse and compose. Along these lines, there comes change in her life. After she gets a grant, she leaves to go to the school in Atlanta in the mid year of 1961, and she starts her initial phase in her life, travel towards wholeness and her development to Atlanta pushes her in to the core of the social liberties development. The name of Saxon school is a representation for white Anglo-Saxon esteems that have saturated considering working class blacks. Meridian’s genuine in Atlanta is disregarded by the educational modules at Saxon, and she sees the new meaning of the part of ladies as an abomination to Saxon’s program for “women”. Meridian and the other understudy with same thought conclude that they have two foes; Saxon, which needed them to end up something-women that was at that point out of date, and the bigger, all the more savage adversary, white bigot society.
At the point when Meridian figures out how to bud herself for survival, she is seen to be defiant and is distanced from society. Meridian turns into a model of strong because of her school instruction. she starts to investigate the potential outcomes for her own development through the start of her training which Wade Gayle in The Black Women in the Novels of Alice Walker and Toni Morrison watches: ‘Without the Movement and without the education, Meridian could have become like Mrs. Hill, a woman who knows suffocation is all deliberate, but who lives nonetheless a life of blind sacrifice’ (Ophr 58). She comprehends the energy of instruction which makes the ladies sure, self-supporting, and comprehends that nothing can prevent her from accomplishing her objective. The activities in the college affect her life.
As her grant is insufficient to accommodate her upkeep and pocket cash, she works for a dark teacher called Raymonds, who is a faithful supporter of dark individuals’ rights, and respondent of security the excellence of dark ladies from white men. Meridian is unwilling to make bargains. After her first year in Saxon college, Meridian she sits under the biggest tree on the campus, the Sojourner, she trusts that nobody can consider her to be imperceptible. Being imperceptible, she overlooks what has been dismissing as long as she can remember i.e the parts of spouse and mother. What’s more, she tries her best to beat the blame of being a dark lady. Talking about the tree in his book Black Women Writing the American experience, Willis says, ‘As a characteristic allegory, the tree is contrary to the two social establishments the ranch and the college’ (114). The pictures of ladies, for example, Louvinie and Sojourner are giving the systems to Meridian for inventive living. Theories scenes are escape from the bigger battles of Civil Rights Movement and deliberately put the individual histories of ladies in the frontal area. Susan Willis composes: “Named The Sojourner, the magnolia invokes the nearness of another pioneer of dark ladies, who, as Louvinie, utilized dialect in the battle for freedom. Along these lines, Walker manufactures a system of ladies, some mythic like Louvinie, some genuine like Sojourner Truth, as the setting for Meridian’s certification and radicalization.” (114)
Analysis Of The Narrator in “Everyday Use” By Alice Walker
An unreliable narrator is a narrator that only tells their side of the story, or one side of the story, that’s why they are an unreliable narrator. In “Everyday Use” our narrator is telling this story about her life and her children, she is speaking in a first person narrative, the story is told through Mama, an uneducated, rural Georgia, black woman, she is only person narrating the whole thing, she’s also the central character. She’s the protagonist, she is a very likeable, sympathetic person. She seems to care a lot about other people’s feelings and she’s been through some pretty hard times. She also talks in a friendly, conversational way. All of this means that we are only supposed to see things from her point of view.
As much as we might like our point of view we’ve always got to be a little wary when every view we get of the other characters is filtered through that one character’s perspective. The danger is that we’re only getting one character’s take on all the other characters and events in the story and we can’t always know right off the bat whether we can trust that character to tell us the real deal. For instance, as much as it seems like we’re getting a glimpse of Dee in the following passage, we’ve got to keep in mind that we’re just getting the narrator’s impressions of her. She observes: “Dee wanted nice things. A yellow organdy dress to wear to her graduation from high school […] She was determined to stare down any disaster in her efforts.” Mama admits from an early point that she never understood Dee and the she and her older daughter clashed from the time that she was a young girl.
Because Mama doesn’t understand Dee, she was hurt by Dee and Dee’s urgency to escape Georgia, escape the South and escape her family. When Dee comes back from school with a new Muslim boyfriend and a name change and suddenly claims that she understands her past and wants to preserve it, Mama was confused, hurt and angry. She lashed out towards Dee in the only way she knew how, by painting a negative picture of her to the reader and by denying her the quilt that she so desperately wants.
On the other had Mama thought that Maggie was the one that made it she knows how to live off of the land just as she does. Mama doesn’t really ever talk bad about Maggie; she gives her more sympathy than she gives Dee. Also Mama says that Dee makes Maggie nervous in the beginning of the story. I felt that she was blaming Dee for Maggie’s injuries. Mama describes Maggie as a partially educated child who does not look as appealing as her older sister. Maggie was burned in a house fire that left her scared all over her body. She does not wear revealing clothes, nor does she attract men as Dee does.
However, Maggie does not want to get in the way of her sister and when Dee wants the quilt, Maggie tells Mama just to let her have it. But Mama seems determined to put her foot down and finally stand up to Dee so she insists that Maggie take the quilt despite Dee’s protests that the quilt will then just be for “everyday use.”
Female Oppression in The Color Purple Novel
The depiction of women in “Color Purple” is one that demonstrates the nullification of women’s agency within a patriarchal society. Alice Walker shows that the voice of the woman was diminished by the manner in which men treated most women and also that some women simply lived for breath. Although some of the women in the text gain some form of agency, it is clear that patriarchal power still sought to maintain the silencing of women. This essay serves to expose the silencing of women in Alice Walker’s “Color Purple”.
The text opens with two phrases that are about Celie who is the main character but the third sentence immediately loses the independent signature that the first two phrases have. “I am” is lost in the third sentence and instead of the main character being the one voicing out what is happening to her she says “Maybe you can give me a sign letting me know what is happening to me”. In the initial introduction of Fonso, Celie’s step-father is that of being forceful towards Celie’s mother. An act of choking Celie and the first words he says in the text are “You better shut up…” The man is already portrayed as violent and forcefully subduing to the female figure (Farahbakhsh & Khanmirzaie: 2014). Celie’s inability to speak proper English can also be linked with being silenced because it is through language that people can reason.
Fonso abuses Celie sexually and she gives birth to two children who are sold by Fonso without the consent of Celie or her mother. Celie says that God took away her first child but the use of God being the cruel being in this part of reading just shows that Celie could not do anything about what Fonso did. This reference of God can also be juxtaposed with the words “God gives and God takes away”, written in the book of Job chapter one verse 21. The biblical statement is one that nullifies the agency of anyone else except God’s. Since Fonso is a man and God is also known as a man, Celie’s words direct the reader to the subjugation of women by the man (Krauszer: 2014).
The negotiations between Albert and Fonso regarding the marriage of Celie to Albert (whom she only refers to with the title Mr.), only occur between the two men and also without the consent of Celie. Celie’s mother had died at this time and not even Celie had anything to say concerning her own marriage negotiations. She is treated as an object of exchange since she is taken into marriage even with her cow (Ghafoor: 2012). In the marriage negotiations, we learn that Albert was initially interested in marrying Nettie, Celie’s younger sister. Fonso stated though that he wanted Nettie to become a schoolteacher. Fonso as a man had already decided on the type of future Nettie should have, leaving her voiceless on what she might have aspired to become. Fonso also uses the words “You can do everything just like you want to and she aren’t going to make you feed it or clothe it” when he suggests that Albert can rather marry Celie instead of her younger sister. Such words immediately show that Celie could only play the role of submission but not influence any decision that Albert intended with her.
We also learn about the beautiful Shug Avery who is admired by Celie and is intimately involved with Albert even when he is married to Celie. Shug comes to town and Albert is not home for the weekend so that they may spend time together. Celie’s concern as a wife to Albert is not even considered by Albert since he goes away for the whole weekend and comes back on Monday. Wives as partners have to know the whereabouts of their husbands but Celie’s voice as a wife was kept shut. Questions of admiration about Shug race in Celie’s mind but as evidence of her voice being shut, she prays for strength and even bites the inside of her jaws to maintain her silence. Celie is an example of the most silenced woman in the text since there is evidence of her having internalized being a silenced individual (Farahbakhsh & Khanmirzaie: 2014).
Shug and Kate (Albert’s sister) advice Celie to not depend on a man and also to fight for herself but she says “I don’t fight, I stay where I’m told. But I’m still alive”. Such words make the reader aware that Celie had actually made peace with her oppressed situation and that all she was grateful of merely breathing, even at the price of patriarchal cruelty. Celie is psychologically destroyed and her experiences can be compared with those of a female character Pecola who experienced abuse in the form of violence and rape in Tony Morrison’s novel “The Bluest Eye” (Aydemir & Tanritanir 2012).
Pecola was also abused by her father as compared to Celie’s abuse by her step-father. I can sum up this comparison by saying both Celie and Pecola experienced different forms of abuse through father figures. Celie’s psychological destruction can also be similiarized with that of Sethe in another one of Tony Morrison’s novel titled “Beloved”. While Celie had no emotional connection in comforting Harpo (Albert’s son) when he was crying and said that patting him was similar to patting a dog, Sethe kills her own daughter. Sethe was also a victim of similar forms of abuse that were experienced by Celie, through men (Aydemir & Tanritanir 2012). The mother’s voice is also silenced in this case and it is impossible to deny that mothers are expected to be more emotionally connected to children. One may say women are to take up the role of motherhood even with children that are not biologically hers. Celie was stripped off the very role of motherhood when her children were sold by Fonso. The effect of such is the most probable cause of her saying the words “Patting Harpo back not even like patting a dog. It’s more like patting another piece of wood. Not a living tree, but a table, a chifferobe”. Harpo was as good as dead to Celie but this would not have been so if Celie had been fairly treated, heard and loved by the male figures in her life.
For a number of times the author also lets the man say certain things and ask questions that women do not even respond to. I am moved to believe that this lays more emphasis on the depiction of the women’s position in the society. Celie hardly answers any of Albert’s questions more especially because they are normally demeaning of her and he always commands Celie to do something. We learn that Celie was not able to get the purple dress that she wanted at the time she was out to shop with Albert’s sisters. The purple colour is normally associated with royalty and sovereignty, it is clear that a sense of ruler-ship over her own life was denied from Celie.
In conclusion, the clarity of female oppression in “The Color Purple” is undeniably perpetuated by men and it drives the silencing of women as well as constructs the roles they are expected to fulfil. The abusive treatment enforced by patriarchy in the name of female submission does not only give males the sceptre of injustice but also prevents women from becoming mothers and wives as the patriarchal system expects. It also destroys the emotional connection between families at large. Injustice is the sceptre of unrighteousness and a spear that pierces the souls of life carriers.
Unappreciated Talent Of Black Women in Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens Novel
Issa Black Girl Thing
In Alice Walker’s “In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens,” she illustrates the unappreciated talent of Black women and how throughout time this type of talent has become shared by Black women and only black women. The ability to create differently, because of adversity, is the talent Black woman possess. This talent is overlooked, at times even hijacked by non-Black women. Non-Black women are able to mimic the way Black women create and at times are even able to receive the credit for that creation, also known as a form of cultural appropriation. Walker provides context for Black women’s creativity that encompasses their hardships and shared experiences. This background allows us to understand the particular way that they create. Through generational trauma and pain, Black women have access to a shared unconsciousness that drives their creativity.
The shared unconsciousness between Black women is a tactic of resilience, rooted from deep, generational pain. Walker illustrates Jean Toomer’s discovery about black women where he states “black women whose spirituality was so intense, so deep, so unconscious, that they were themselves unaware of the richness they held”(231). This resilience within black women is not always recognized or acknowledged by the world or by Black women, and Toomer addresses this as an issue in his piece. He conveys that “they stumbled blindly through their lives: creatures so abused and mutilated in body, so dimmed and confused by pain, they they considered themselves unworthy of even hope” (232). Walker frames this behavior as Black women “[moving] to music not yet written” (232). This is the notion that they are able to connect with the richness of the spirit they possess without necessarily recognizing it. Walker reveals this with Toomer’s words, stating that Black women are constantly forced to reserve a place in their unconscious mind for storing particular experiences and situations that are traumatic and painful. Years of ongoing sexual, mental and physical abuse causes this stifling of Black women minds but a blossoming of a creative spirit. This pain and trauma allows them to feel and think in ways that reinforce the abilities of this spirit.
Despite personal their personal pain and trauma, Black women must continue to provide for those around them, which ultimately fosters this creative energy as an outlet. Black women are put in a place where a state of self-preservation and protection is needed to survive. From being forced to neglect their own kids to fulfill a role as a caretaker for someone else’s children during the slavery era, to having to hold back emotions after their significant other has been shot by police in order to record and report the situation accurately. An example of that perseverance is Diamond Reynolds, partner of the late Philando Castile who was shot dead by police, despite his innocence. After being what Walker refers to as “‘the mule of the world,’ because we have been handed the burdens that everyone else-everyone else-refused to carry” (237). Their own mental and physical health is not only a factor to their stress, but they are the community’s backbone as well. From there, a feminine creative energy blooms, one that accesses a level of creativity no other is able to reach. This energy, this shared unconsciousness, derives from the generational trauma, where pain passes down through the years.
So much pain and trauma might seem to diminish and completely eliminate all means of creativity, but the transporting of resilience throughout generations does the exact opposite. The shared energy has become stronger and more creative throughout time, which does not diminish Black women and the experiences of those before, but instead suggests that the spirituality grows stronger as we go. Walker analyzes the art of Phillis Wheatley, an black poetess during the eighteenth century. She grew up during a time period where the enslaved were restricted from reading and writing. Phillis Wheatley grew up oppressed by white people, furthermore, white women, and her writings praised the lifestyle and beauty of other white women. She was criticized for these writings by other black women years later, accused of self-hatred and anti-blackness, but Walker thinks differently. She poses the question “how was the creativity of black women kept alive year after year and century after century, when for most of the years black people have been in America, it was punishable for a black person to read or write?” (234). For Phillis, writing was a form of resistance, she was an enslaved black woman, who was expected to be illiterate, not a famous poet. While she may have not been creating pieces about her melanin or being a nubian queen, she was still creating.
Walker aligns her text with the theme of resistance through framing the ways black women create spaces for themselves. Walker reaffirms this notion of constructing spaces by using Woolf’s writing to be inclusive of black women. Virginia Woolf was a white woman who wrote about feminine creativity in her book Room of One’s Own. Walker deliberately inserts the history and experiences of black women into selections of Woolf’s to embed their perspective into the framework of feminine creativity. Being forced to claim and create spaces together for themselves is another way they have shared this energy and unconsciousness. It might be hard to believe this energy exists if one does not identify or is not perceived as a black woman. It is something only black women can see and something only black women can share. It is not innate, nor is it directly spoken about, it is just known. One may know of her black girl magic as well as know of the misogynistic and racist beliefs placed upon Black women.
Black girl magic is a large way this shared unconsciousness is acknowledged. Challenging and reclaiming the way black women are seen and how they see themselves is how the term black girl magic was derived. It is the idea that our skin is not dirty but instead gold and bronze, directly from our unique pigment of melanin and that our hair is not unprofessional or unkept but actually defies gravity. Our creativity is now expressed through aesthetically pleasing visuals, most popularly visuals of Solange and Beyonce, and lyrics specifically speaking on the experiences of black women, reminding many that black hair is not to be touched by curious hands. Black girl magic has led to empowerment and furthered the theme of resistance. Black women are dominating other aspects of the entertainment industry with Issa Rae and Ava Duvernay creating content about either being an awkward black girl or educating many with a documentary on the prison industrial complex in the U.S.
Black women are constantly creating out of pain, but unfortunately not all are able to even create. Phillis Wheatley was fortunate enough to be able to create, unlike many other black women whose stories remain untold. She was able to do so the only way she knew, and Walker reaffirms her creative spirit by stating “it is not so much what you sang, as that you kept alive, in so many of our ancestors, the notion of song” (237). We know Phillis Wheatley’s shared spirit, because her spirit is within us, it is within our shared unconsciousness. Her pain is our pain. Our pain derives from hers. We are carrying the pain of her and other generations before us, and that is what drives our creativity. That’s why it is a black girl thing.