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Despite Their Cultural Differences, Do Jeanette From ‘Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit’ & Celie From ‘The Colour Purple’ Both Share The Same Struggle?

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Gareth Crabtree Despite Their Cultural Differences, Do Jeanette From 'Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit' & Celie From 'The Colour Purple' Both Share The Same Struggle? The cultural differences of the two characters are numerous and the implications far reaching. The austere but comfortable working class security of 'Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit', contrasts greatly with the urban squalor of 'The Colour Purple.' Even though there is such a massive social divide the two women share many similar struggles. Both women are struggling against the imposition and enforcement of belief systems and intolerant judgements upon them. In Jeanette's life her mother mainly imposes her controlling and stifling religious views upon her. She feels press - ganged to the extent that 'I had been brought in to join her in a tag match against the Rest of the World.' The entirety of Jeanette's early life is a moulding process, where she is forced to endure the influence of 'enemies' including 'The Devil (in his many forms), Next Door, Sex (in its many forms), and slugs.' Celie's initial struggle takes on a much more chilling and darker tone. ...read more.


School is the first time for Jeanette that the belief's of her mother are challenged as odd, and possibly dogmatic. 'You do seem to be rather pre - occupied, shall we say with God.' The entire childhood of Jeanette is steeped in what many would seem a bizarre religious fervour, 'My mother is like William Blake, and she has visions and dreams and cannot always distinguish a fleas head from a king.' This strangeness is evident throughout the novel and makes it nearly unbelievable that Jeanette could lead any kind of normal existence. Every expression of Jeanette's creativity is expected to be an echo of her mother's religious insecurity, but this position is untenable and inevitably ends up having 'to enrage my mother because I had abandoned biblical themes.' With the once vice like grip of her mother's influence removed Jeannette's development gathers apace as she finds comfort in her lesbian relationships. Her happiness is then disrupted later in the novel by the harshness of the reaction of the church and most of the community to Jeanette's lesbian affair with Melanie. ...read more.


Jeanette Winterson successfully portrays the forgiveness that Jeanette feels for her mother's actions at the end of the novel. Without a clich�d ending, but instead uses a constant thread of humour that runs throughout the book. 'This is kindly light calling, Manchester, come in Manchester, this is kindly light.' This demonstrates the way that Jeanette has succeeded in rising above the pettiness of her earlier life. An obvious and much used target for this humour is the often simple and stupid naivety of the church that Jeannette was so closely linked to. The churchgoers have not made huge journeys of self-development but instead comfort themselves with the child like rhymes of 'Not whisky rye not gin and dry not rum and coke for me. Not brandy fizz but a spiritual whiz puts the fire in me.' Of course another target for this humour is Jeannette's mother, who by the end of the novel has not moved an inch from her initial beliefs. Even though Jeannette is now welcome in the family home, it is through comfortable familiarity she is welcomed there, and not because there has been an acceptance of what Jeannette has become. Even in the final lines of 'Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit' Jeannette's mother has remained entrenched in her religious fervour. ...read more.

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