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Violence - Research Paper Example

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Name Instructor Class Date Female Oppression in The Color Purple For centuries, women have been relegated to an inferior status in society as a result of their gender alone. Because they are woman, it was assumed they were incapable of learning, incapable of making logical decisions, incapable of defending themselves and incapable of managing their own sexuality…
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Download file to see previous pages It was a role that only become more complex following the age of American slavery, when the woman of color was not just a servant or a woman, but a sexual tool to be used at will by whichever man has current rights to her. The question of the modern age, then, can be put in terms of who has control of the woman’s sexuality, the woman or the man who ‘owns’ her. This struggle over who has control of the woman’s sexuality is one of the primary themes that runs through Alice Walker’s novel The Color Purple. As Celie develops from an oppressed black woman of the South to a liberated woman of the modern age, the elements of symbolic sexism are exposed both within the novel. Alice Walker’s novel The Color Purple (1982), investigates the black American woman’s experience of double oppression, first as a black person and then, more significantly, as a woman, elements that are present to different degrees within the film version (1985). The main character, Celie, is presented as a black woman heavily oppressed, trained early to be subservient and completely conventional in her ideas as a result. Through epistolary segments, the maturation process of Celie is revealed in letters to God until Celie can’t accept Him as a protective figure anymore and then Nettie, Celie’s sister, upon her discovery that Nettie is still alive. These letters indicate Celie’s changing ideas and strengthening resolve to reclaim her sexuality and femininity as something to be treasured and something only she should control. Influenced by the appearance of strong women within her world, such as her step-son’s wife and especially the ‘wild-woman’ Shug, Celie is able to find inner strength and value she never suspected. By the end of the novel, Walker’s Celie has become a confident, powerful and successful business woman growing old in the love of her family and defining her own boundaries. The female characters sympathize with the male characters to the point where women ultimately relinquish the power and strength gained by the other characters in the novel, still illustrated through the traditional symbolic sexism that places women at the mercy of, or at least still anxious to satisfy, the whims of men. Within the book, Celie’s progression occurs in an obvious progression rather than the subtle movement of the character. Celie begins the novel in poverty of spirit and opportunity. As a young black girl living on a 1930s cotton farm in the South, she is isolated from the rest of her community and immediately placed on the bottom rung of society in that she is black and she is female. This means she is oppressed by the white people as well as oppressed by the black men. At 14 years old, her mother is already worn out from life and soon dies while Celie becomes her father’s new sexual and emotional outlet, a mere object upon which he can vent. While her emotions of guilt, shame and despair as the two children he fathers on her are taken away “to be with God” are revealed in her nearly illiterate diary, these feelings never come close to being considered by those around her. “Not only was Celie’s initiation into sexual experience in the form of rape committed by her stepfather, but ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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