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Examine the authors' presentation of men, women and gender roles in The Colour Purple and Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit

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Examine the authors' presentation of men, women and gender roles in The Colour Purple and Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit In the novels, The Colour Purple and Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit a masculine quality in a female character or, a feminine quality in a male character is seen as a sign of strength and change. Both authors' portrayal of gender and sexuality is an extremely significant aspect in the novels. This essay will be focusing on how Alice Walker and Jeanette Winterson present men and women as well as how the authors present the idea that gender is distinct from sexual identity and if rigidly enforced, gender roles can be highly destructive. In The Colour Purple and Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, male characters are represented in a variety of different ways. There are some positive representations of men, however, they are mainly portrayed as oppressors. The characters of Mr. _____ and the Pastors are shown to be typical men who show authoritarian and tyrannical values. In The Colour Purple Celie chooses not to acknowledge Mr. _____'s name, this shows that Celie is denying him a presence and sense of individuality until right at the end of the novel. ...read more.


At the start of the novels both Celie and Jeanette are presented as young, na�ve girls and through the use of first person narration the reader is encouraged to identify and sympathise with the protagonist. In The Colour Purple the language used by Celie in her first letter is blunt and shows Celie's innocence, "titties" and "pussy". The fact that in the first letter Celie is being abused by a man instantly shows a patriarchal society where women are seen to be subordinate to men. In comparison, even though Oranges has first person narration, it is a retrospective novel therefore there is an innocent tone coupled with the knowing, mocking voice of an older narrator. In the novels both protagonists, Celie and Jeanette, are on search to find a sense of identity in their oppressive and patriarchal societies.. Within the novels The Colour Purple and Oranges, Sofia and Jeanette's mother are two female characters who are presented as strong and dominant women. From the introduction of both of these characters it becomes clear that these women are challenging the traditional view of women. "They just be marching, hand in hand, like going to war. She in front a little." This quote describes Harpo bringing Sofia to see Mr._____. ...read more.


The introduction to the relationship of Sofia and Harpo shows the reversal of the fixed stereotype which are continued by other couples in the novel, that a man should dominate the woman. Harpo is seen as the passive partner of the relationship. Sofia's sisters are describes as "big strong healthy girls". The words "big" and "strong" are two mono-syllabic, common and simple words. This reflects the simplicity of the sisters in terms of education. Moreover, the use of language here emphasises their physical power in terms of strength and dominance as both words have very powerful and masculine connotations. Furthermore, Walker compares the attributes of the sisters to "amazons", reflecting how Sofia's sisters are turning around the appearance of women being the inferior race by adopting masculine traits. In conclusion, The Colour Purple and Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit are two novels which present the two genders as variety, where there are no specific qualities assigned to each gender. However, although the representation of men as oppressors dominates, men are also shown to have different, positive qualities. Furthermore, women characters are presented as symbols of hope in deeply patriarchal societies by possessing strong, dominant qualities. By challenging these traditional representations of men and women, it shows that there is hope for change and we can move away from fixed gender roles expected by society. ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 ...read more.

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