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Alice Walker's depiction of men in The Color Purple has been controversial. Explore the opinions of the two critics and explain your own views of the way Walker presents men in The Color Purple.

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Introduction

Student: Jo Townsend Subject/Project: English Literature Coursework The Color Purple ==> Alice Walker's depiction of men in The Color Purple has been controversial. Explore the opinions of the two critics and explain your own views of the way Walker presents men in The Color Purple. Throughout this essay I intend to explore a variety of different critics' opinions based on how men are portrayed in Alice Walker's novel, 'The Color Purple'. I would like to argue/debate that Alice Walker is not pinpointing black males in the novel but an entire society. There are many different ways in which a reader could find this novel controversial and therefore it is very hard to define controversy. Alice Walker was writing 'The Color Purple' around the time of the Civil Rights Movement. This movement opened people's eyes to the inequality that black people suffered. Walker describes herself as a 'womanist' therefore it is clear that she would choose to write about the hardships that black women would face. It does seem very significant for the time Walker wrote the novel (approximately mid 1970's) as the life of black women had never been explored in the depth that Walker went to. Alice Walker spoke 'when others dare not' (Wesley : 1986). In many ways Walker's novel opens people's eyes to an unheard of topic and encourages discussion on it. ...read more.

Middle

The man would usually be the one with the upper hand. This shows a loving passionate side to Harpo, who is able to truly love a woman for the right reasons, but once again he succumbs to the example set to him by his father and tries to be a more dominating husband. To Harpo's disadvantage this fails to work as Sofia is the stronger of the two. When Sofia leaves him, Harpo sets up a juke-joint. This makes him a stronger more independent man and he and Sofia becomes a couple again towards the end of the novel. We also see that Samuel and Adam are very respectable characters. Nettie praises both men fondly although she doesn't attempt the same dialogue that brings Harpo and Albert so vividly to life in Celie's letters. However, we do learn that Samuel is a loyal husband to Corrine and later in the novel, due to Corrine's death and a close friendship between Nettie and Samuel, becomes a respectable husband to Nettie. Adam falls in love with Tashi, and he shows a great deal of care and loyalty for her. Jake Jefferson supports my opinion with his quote, "In conclusion, this novel, composed of mostly negative male imagery did have some positive imagery towards the end" (Jefferson : Celie's view on men may have become more mature as the novel, and she herself developed. ...read more.

Conclusion

This may occur in many different ways, i.e. a feminist may pay more attention to the relationship between Celie and Shug and how the women in the novel support each other. Everybody reads a novel in there own way, and will pay more attention to certain points than others. Because Walker's novel can be read in so many different ways, I feel that it is a great achievement for her, as the novel can appeal to many different types of personalities. Wesley raises a very voluble point, in that authors such as John A. Williams criticised black women for apparently being "castrating shrews" though writers such as Walker are harshly criticised for "reminding many men of [their] own failures." I have enjoyed studying critics' responses to 'The Color Purple' and I feel that it has reinforced in my mind, my original view on the way men are portrayed in the novel. I have found that my ideas and views have been supported by critics such as Wesley and Jefferson, but there are and, most likely, always will be matters open to debate on the novel. As my final words I found a quote that I found very true and felt that it would conclude much of the debates I have studied. "in a strange and wonderful way, these wildly divergent reactions are a testament to the power and talent of Alice Walker" (Wesley : 1986) Marks - 21/25 Grade - A 1 ...read more.

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