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Discuss how Walker and Atwood present the self awakening of key characters within the Colour Purple and Margaret Atwood poems.

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Introduction

Discuss how Walker and Atwood present the self awakening of key characters within the Colour Purple and Margaret Atwood poems. Both writers explore the plight of women and condemn the acts of sexism and racism. Walker and Atwood both show how women can overcome the harsh situations that occur, however the writers do this using various different styles. The life of Celie in "The Color Purple" emphasises the hardships and joys of black people, focussing on gender inequality. Celie is in a position of complete powerlessness throughout the beginning letters. She is so defenceless that the only person she talks to is God, and even then she is forced to write letters rather than pray. "Dear God what is happening to me? " Celie first loses the ability to control her own life when her mother falls ill. This forces her to assume the duties of her mother. Through rapes and beatings she is completely dominated by Pa. "Wives are like children and they must be beaten if they are to be kept in order" When talking of Celie Pa states"I can let you have Celie, I got a fresh one in there myself" This reminds us of the purchase of a slave. And shows how Celie is used throughout the beginning of the novel. Trudier Harris also thought that Walker was "trying to divide the black community through her accounts of male dominance." However I think Alice Walker gives a realistic account of the way people treated one another, there are various social groupings that provide an obstacle for communication, but regardless of whatever 'group' each character is to fall under, there are bound to be obvious arguments within the groups themselves, for example obvious tension between black males and black females, to say this is dividing the black community is wrong, Alice Walker is simply revealing the harsh reality of that time. ...read more.

Middle

The women in the novel are presented as victims of violence; they unite with each other and bond by communication. These characteristics are represented in most of the characters such as Sofia overcoming the mayor's wife by the support of her friends and Celie frees herself from Mr. This bonding helps women support and protect each other against oppression. Women find great strength and solidarity with each other. They may be powerless in the patriarchal society and in the household but when they integrate they become powerful allies, they also start to believe they deserve better and can work together to improve and stop oppression amongst women. Alice Walkers novel enables her to explore a full repertoire of relevant aspects; sex, emotions, and relevant confrontations. In a different genre Margaret Atwood explores the plight of women; however the genre of poetry enables Atwood to explore this plight through a series of snapshots of women in various situations. Atwood's poetry came to the fore within the 1980's, at the time women legally had equal status to men, however women still struggled for respect in America and Canada. Women no longer imitated men but were glad of their feminine qualities and utilised these qualities wherever possible. Margaret Atwood was at the spearhead of the feminist movement; her poetry both grotesque and revolutionary was symbolic of her feminine mentality. In Atwood's "A Woman's Issue" there is great use of imperatives, instructions given to the reader, Atwood's tone is stern and concise, almost confronting her own audience. "You'll notice that what they have in common is between the legs. Is this why wars are fought?" It is a command for readers to pay attention to the corruption that goes on within a woman's life. Atwood's verse is affective as she gives attention to political and social issues, the use of "wars" "enemy territory" "no mans land" we are all related to war as it has affected many peoples lives, within the 1980's America took part in the Vietnam war. ...read more.

Conclusion

bleached out like white meat" However even in her terrible state Mary still believes she will pull through, "most will only have one death I will have two" Through this statement she is comparing herself to God, it is only her and God that have survived death, for that she is grateful and this marks her rise in overcoming oppression. She now changes in tone and is sarcastic and somewhat triumphant, " Tough luck folks, I know the law; you can't execute me twice for the same thing. How nice" "I fell to the clover, breathed it in" Mary considers herself lucky. After all the discomfort that she has experienced she is thankful that she is still alive, rather than revengeful for the pain she has practised. Mary now feels she is compared to God, "My audience is God because who the hell else could understand me? Who else has been dead twice" Atwood shows how it is possible to rise above the oppression, Mary has suffered and has served an unjust punishment; however she has rose in the face of adversity in order to overcome suffering. Atwood uses Mary as an example of what the ideal woman should do to combat gender inequality. Atwood's poems show the progression of women's attitude, firstly they are experiencing male domination, and after enduring this exploitation they have the ability to speak out and rise above the oppression. Men use women's gender against women to oppress them, it is not until women are allowed to realise that they are more than this that women are allowed to stop suffering. However, in both the poetry and the novel the women have to endure great sexual punishment before they do realise that they are more than just objects. It is that sexual punishment that acts as a catalyst for women wanting to overcome the adversity. Even though both Celie and Mary rise above their oppression, the scars can be clearly seen of the punishment that has gone before them. ...read more.

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