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“Compare and contrast the extent to which the female characters in ‘Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit’ and ‘The Color Purple’ are shown to overcome the struggles they face.”

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Introduction

"Compare and contrast the extent to which the female characters in 'Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit' and 'The Color Purple' are shown to overcome the struggles they face." Although many of the themes in 'The Color Purple' and 'Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit' are similar, the moods of the novels completely different. 'The Color Purple' is about survival with an underlying and unquenchable sense of wonder and hope, whereas in 'Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit' the mood is one of confusion and exasperation. In the face of the struggles Celie must contend with; oppression of poverty, racism, and sexism, she sustains her dignity and even after all she has faced, when she is presented with the opportunity to love, she is openheartedly willing to accept. Jeannette's confusion is due to the contradictions she is confronted with in her early life: her religion verses her personal feelings. She is told that what feels right to her is wrong, but this is never explained to her. What aggravates this confusion is that the religion in which she is raised is based on absolutes; there are no grey areas in fundamental religious practices. However, protagonists of both novels share a repressed and dysfunctional family background, the catalyst for their struggle. The main similarities in 'The Color Purple' and 'Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit' are that both Celie and Jeannette have one passive parent and one oppressive parent, Celie's mother and Jeannette's father consciously overlook what is happening whilst the other parent abuses and oppresses. Both Celie and Jeannette are innocent, and some would argue ignorant, until they are liberated by the discovery of sexuality and independence. As they struggle with their identity, they progress towards experience through strong female company. There are strong themes in both novels; religion, society, sexuality and class, all portrayed as another means of oppression. The novels are about struggle, survival and subversion. ...read more.

Middle

The first letters go to God but later they are motivated by her love for Nettie. The letters chart her development from a confused, innocent and frightened 14-year-old schoolgirl into a confident, spiritually whole woman. "You Black, you pore, you ugly Goddamit you nothing at all." Mister's description of Celie is the way in which she is seen by her husband and also by the society around her. This is also her starting point - the moment when she determines to assert herself. This development had two key initiators, Shug and Sophia, strong female influences. She learns a lot from Sofia and Harpo's relationship; like the fact that a wife doesn't have to take abuse from her husband. "You ought to bash Mr._________ head open, she say. Think bout heaven later." This is one of the first instances in which Celie starts to care about her life and makes gradual attempts to better it. Shug Avery enters the novel next and is idealized by Celie. Celie begins to learn from her and becomes her own person. All the sexual experiences she had had prior to the one with Shug were terrible, and usually against her will. But after her experience with Shug she realizes that sexual contact can be enjoyed, she becomes comfortable with her body, and learns that touching herself is not a bad thing. " I don't know nothing bout it, I say to Shug. I don't know much she say." As Shug and Celie's relationship progressed, she began to experience a real relationship with someone she cared about. Lesbianism is also a very prominent theme in 'Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit'. At the beginning of "Leviticus" "strange noises, like cries for help, come from "Next Door". Sex and religion are opposites, but also related-they both involve strange and noisy rituals, attempts to get in touch with something higher. Jeannette's Mother sees it as sacrilegious; Jeanette is curious and eventually chooses sex over religion. ...read more.

Conclusion

"All womens not alike, Tobias, she say. Believe it or not." Shug sits down, and for the first time, joins the other women in their quilting. Her action places her firmly united with Sofia and Celie. Later, pieces of Shug's old yellow dress are added to the quilt, the pattern of which is Sister's Choice. There's little doubt this quilt will be passed on to daughters and granddaughters. 'Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit' can be seen as a lesbian novel. Lesbianism is a metaphor for difference, for issues of conformity and self-assertion. Jeannette comes to it "by accident"-a discovery of her own nature, and of pleasure. Not a choice or an act of will, so it cannot be a sin. The last three sections of the book-Joshua, Judges, Ruth-present a complex struggle of self-definition and escape. Joshua made the walls of Jericho fall down by blowing his trumpet. Jeanette needs to break down the walls of her home, and to create the magic circle that will protect her soul from the world. She also needs the pebble-something left over from the wall, a magic token, but also a weapon, like the stone David used to kill Goliath. The death of Elsie breaks Jeanette's ties with her town. And so, she makes the journey to the beautiful city, that is, Oxford, marking Jeannette's decision to live away from home, and to be prophet rather than priest. Ending returns to irony, the mother's reality, like Melanie's, has been left untouched by their encounter with Jeanette. Characters in both novels face and overcome struggle. Celie is reunited with her beloved sister and children and is totally independent from men, romantically and financially. Jeannette escapes the oppression of her fundamentalist religious community; she discovers herself and is liberated, no longer reliant or betrothed to the church. Struggle can come in many forms, even as a challenge. It doesn't necessarily have to be negative. Although the situations that both Celie and Jeannette were faced with were oppressive, both protagonists sought it as a challenge that they overcame and were liberated by. English Coursework Durre Shah 13t5 ...read more.

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