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Compare the extent to which the sexuality of Jeanette and Celie is portrayed in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit and The Color Purple

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Introduction

Compare the extent to which the sexuality of Jeanette and Celie is portrayed in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit and The Color Purple The novels Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson and The Colour Purple by Alice Walker both explore the sexual journeys taken by protagonists Celie and Jeanette, and present the effect sexuality has on the two girls. The upbringings of Jeanette and Celie play a major role in their eventual lesbianism even though the early lives of these two characters couldn't be more different. Some critics, such as John Mullen, have commented that Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit could be Winterson's autobiography1, as both the author and her main character share the name 'Jeanette', both are adopted into very strict religious families and Winterson also grew up to be a lesbian. Jeanette's mother, Constance, raises her in an environment that is strongly against sex because of her attitude that it is 'unholy'. In one example, they hear the neighbours "fornicating"(P. 52) and her horrified mother begins singing "Ask the Saviour to Help You"(P. 53). She despises sex so much that she adopted Jeanette so she didn't have to have sex to have a daughter, much like the Virgin Mary in Christianity. ...read more.

Middle

Like Jeanette, Celie shares closeness with women rather than men. While Jeanette's distaste of men is more passive and subtle, Celie is hateful and wary of men because of the way she's been treated by them. She lived in a time when men dominated the social hierarchy, so all the women had to stick together. This is shown when Celie meets Sofia, who has six brothers and five sisters, and says "all the girls stick together" (P. 39). It's a possibility that Sofia's words inspired Celie to find confidence in other women instead of suffering alone, because it is after this that Celie develops a close relationship with Sofia and Shug Avery,. The quilt Sofia and Celie make acts as a metaphor to show the power women can have when in numbers and the things they can achieve. Both Nettie and Mr. __'s sister, Kate, tell Celie "You got to fight"(P. 17 and 21) to encourage her, and Kate says "you deserve more than this"(P. 20), which helps Celie discover self-worth and gives her the confidence to leave Mr. ___. Kate shows Celie she is not alone, and the new dress Kate buys for her symbolises Celie's newfound refuge with other women and the start of defining herself as a new, stronger person. ...read more.

Conclusion

Celie starts her final letter with "Dear God. Dear stars, dear trees, dear sky, dear peoples. Dear Everything. Dear God" (P. 242) to show her sexual awakening has opened her eyes to more of the world. She has a new-found appreciation for life and a restored faith in God, which have both been slowly diminishing over the course of the novel, but through her new identity as a lesbian, she has achieved enlightenment. By the end of the novel her awakening has changed her character making her more assertive. She learns to stand up for herself because she feels she deserves to be treated well, where at the beginning she was ____________________________________________________________________________ 1 http://www.igit.com/page/show/3985?The+Color+Purple looked at like "earth" (P. 20). And by saying "Us so happy" (P. 244) it proves she's completed her personal journey and, as a result, is happier. To conclude, Winterson and Walker both portray Jeanette and Celie's journeys to lesbianism differently; Celie is driven to lesbianism as a way of self-identification and empowerment, and this is most likely a result of the abuse she suffered in her childhood, whereas Jeanette's is a story of rebellion against her sheltered upbringing. Winterson wrote her novel to challenge "the supposed normality of heterosexuality"1 while Walker wanted to shed light on the discrimination women like Celie endured, and I believe both succeeded in their goals. Erica Wilson Word Count: 2, 218 Words ____________________________________________________________________________ 1 http://www.ejumpcut.org/archive/onlinessays/JC39folder/OrangesNotOnlyFruit.html ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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