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By a detailed comparison of The Color Purple with at least one other text you have studied, show how far you agree that it is possible to see twentieth century writing in these terms.

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Introduction

20th CENTURY AMERICAN LITERATURE "Twentieth century American literature is often overtly political, but also says much about humanity in general." By a detailed comparison of The Color Purple with at least one other text you have studied, show how far you agree that it is possible to see twentieth century writing in these terms. The Color Purple, set in southern America at the start of the twentieth century, follows the life of Celie over several decades, until just before the second-world war, and emphasises the hardships and joys of black people - in particular black women at the hands of men. Later in the novel, we explore the life of Nettie, Celie's sister, as a missionary in Africa. Oppression is just as great here, not only of Africans by Europeans, but also of African women by African men. The novel is written through letters. This unusual style contributes to the structure, as it provides two points of view, and two styles, in the first-person narrators - Celie and Nettie. The letters help with the overall story line. Firstly, Celie writes to God as she feels this is the only person she can talk to, however, later, each of the sisters writes to the other, as an act of faith, keeping up her spirits in times of despair. ...read more.

Middle

Celie is eventually converted by this new faith, and it is for this reason that the final letter begins "Dear God. Dear stars, dear trees, dear sky, dear peoples. Dear everything..." (p. 242) Religion within The Color Purple can therefore be seen to suggest that patriarchal society should be overthrown in order to create a better, purer world. Patriarchy, and men's violence and power is probably one of the most important issues raised within the novel. Walker goes into immense detail to describe accounts of how Celie has been abused, for example, page 97: "...he never ast me nothing bout myself. He clam on top of me and fuck and fuck, even when my head bandaged..." Even within Harpo and Sofia's happy relationship, violence occurs as Harpo has been brought up with the idea that if a woman doesn't do what a man expects him to, then he should hit her. This can be shown when Harpo is talking to Albert and Celie on page 34. Albert says, "...Wives is like children. You have to let 'em know who got the upper hand. Nothing can do that better than a good sound beating..." Walker presents men as the weaker, although not gentler sex. ...read more.

Conclusion

Despite this, Stella ultimately sides with Stanley when it comes to believing whether or not he raped Blanche: "I couldn't believe her story and go on living with Stanley..." (Scene 6, p.83) This therefore acts as a contrast to The Color Purple, as we are aware that nothing could come between Nettie and Celie -especially a man. In conclusion, I believe that twentieth century American literature can address political issues. This can be shown within both Walker's and Williams's work. Walker is clearly influenced by the Civil Rights, and Feminist Movements, while Williams chooses to take more of a critical view of America after the second world war - in particular, the illusion of the American Dream and the effects of the economy. In spite of this, the writers also choose to look at more topical issues such as domestic violence, patriarchy, relationships, and the search for personal freedom. I therefore believe, that in order to create a successful piece, a writer must consider movements and issues that have effected the way society is at the present time, but also look at more personal aspects, which shape a persons existence, and their outlook on life. This not only adds to the enjoyment of the work, but allows the reader to interact, and relate to particular situations. ...read more.

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