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Compare and contrast the presentation of sex and sexuality in The Color Purple by Alice Walker and Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson

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Introduction

Compare and contrast the presentation of sex and sexuality in The Color Purple by Alice Walker and Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson The theme of sex and sexuality contributes to the important ideas of a struggle in the novels The Color Purple and Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit. Sex is presented through gender and the physical act, and sexual orientation is emphasised for sexuality. The novels chart the development of the protagonists, Celie and Jeanette, through their growing sexuality and their positions as women in society. Their struggles, however, are different. Celie's predicament is that of being a woman in a patriarchal society, whereas Jeanette's is living with her sexuality in a strict, fundamentalist, Christian household and church community. These are presented through attitudes of society, and through other characters. Celie's father and her husband both abuse her violently and sexually in The Color Purple. Both men contribute significantly to Celie's initial powerlessness to fight back. In Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, however, Jeanette's mother and the church are antagonists in her fight for her homosexuality. Both of the authors, Alice Walker and Jeanette Winterson, use similar techniques to suggest the importance of sex and sexuality and to demonstrate how they progress throughout the novels. One of the main methods used to present the theme of sex and sexuality are the use of other characters, especially their dialogue. Both writers use the male gender to symbolise authority. Walker uses Celie's father, Fonso, in the first few letters to illustrate sexual and violent abuse towards women. ...read more.

Middle

Further imagery of the metaphor "I had an octopus inside of me" also illustrates their love for each other. Winterson uses this imagery to demonstrate the innocence of their relationship, and by doing this it allows the reader to see the natural and pure process that Jeanette undergoes in discovering who she is. Both writers confirm their protagonists' sexualities. Both writers use imagery derived from the titles of their novels to present the theme of sex and sexuality. In particular the use of colours purple and orange are important motifs throughout the novels. The meanings of the motifs change as the novels progress, and the authors have done this to chart the development of the protagonists. The very first mention of Purple is in letter 12, where Celie cannot find any clothing of that colour in the store. She sees purple as a colour that Shug "would wear", and so one to be valued, but it is unattainable as "us look an look and no purple". This symbolises a woman who is strong and proud to be so, but Celie cannot imagine herself to be such a woman. In comparison, it seems that the colour orange is portrayed through the fruit of orange. In the chapter of Exodus, Jeanette realises that she cannot hear and so writes a note to her mother, whom pays no attention. Jeanette simply "took an orange and went to bed". The symbolic importance of this is that the fruit is a replacement or a substitute of a maternal figure who is understanding in all areas, including Jeanette's sexuality. ...read more.

Conclusion

The pebble appears for the second time as the raven Abednego throws it to Winnet Stonejar to keep her safe and she does this by "clutching it tightly". Winnet represents Jeanette as she too holds the pebble in moments of crisis. The pebble in this allegory becomes a talisman that evokes the fairytale of Hansel and Gretel, in which stones were used as a guide to home. The raven also coughs "a rough brown pebble into her hand" and explains that it is his heart of stone that "grew thick with sorrow, and finally set" because he "chose to stay". He clarifies that "it will remind you". This symbolises that Jeanette has a chance to escape as the pebble will guide her towards home, which is her true self and ultimately her sexual identity. Walker and Winterson have used similar techniques to represent sex and sexuality, but they focus on slightly different aspects of the theme. Walker concentrates on patriarchy and so raises gender issues. Celie's journey is to overcome these issues or attitudes in her society and eventually find love, prior to Shug's tenderness. Although she has experienced the physical act of sex, it has been meaningless because it was made without love. Winterson, however, is condemning homophobic ideology and she explains that Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit "illustrates by example that what the church calls love is actually psychosis and it dares to suggest that what makes life difficult for homosexuals is not their perversity but other people's". Jeanette experiences this as her journey through the novel was to leave the church and become a proud homosexual. Words: 2,798 ?? ?? ?? ?? Nicole Aquilina Page | 1 ...read more.

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