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Alice Walkers depiction of men in The Color Purple has been controversial - Explore the opinions of the two critics printed below and explain your own view of the way Walker presents men in The Colour Purple.

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Alice Walkers depiction of men in The Color Purple has been controversial. Explore the opinions of the two critics printed below and explain your own view of the way Walker presents men in The Colour Purple. In The Color Purple, Alice Walker's depiction of men has been seen by some as controversial. Walker seems to be attacking black men because of their mistreatment of black women. Although, there is another force at work in this powerful, and emotional, book. That force is the unwitting testimony which Walker cannot control, because it was not deliberately written to be part of her story. Between the lines of her story is the strong message of personal rage: rage which cannot be hidden. The rage can be seen throughout the novel in numerous forms; the words used by Walker, that are strong and emotive; the portrayal of the characters, from innocent, like Celie, to evil, like Mr. Alphonso and the realism in which the characters are brought to life, because of the real anger used to describe them. Therefore, in considering the opinions of the two opposing critics, this circumstance must be borne in mind. The first critic, Tony Brown, wrote an article about The Color Purple for the Carolina Peacemaker. He has many views on the book, and expresses those views confidently. Brown admits in his article that some men have raped their daughters, "...some black men have raped their daughters," However, immediately afterwards, he is stating his defence of black men. ...read more.


In my opinion, the men in The Color Purple presented during anger, Walker's anger when writing. Therefore, the presentation of men is biased. Personally speaking, I think the depiction of men in the novel is true; that is, all aspects of the male personality are represented by Walker's characters, from kindness in Reverend Mr (Samuel) to brutal cruelty, seen in Albert. The way in which Walker writes, with such conviction and passion about her characters makes the depiction true, it cannot be fained. The slightly biased view on the male characters in the novel is so because Walker only shows two good black, male characters; Samuel and Harpo. Harpo cares deeply for his family, and loves them sincerely, but his sensitivity causes him to be dominated over by his wife. Samuel does so much to help Nettie; he takes her in after Albert's assault on her. He educates her, shows her new and exciting places abroad. The marriage between Samuel and Corrine also knows no cruelty, no violence or s****l abuse. This example is compared to several other male characters that are portrayed as raging, unprincipled creatures. An example of a raging, unprincipled creature, as shown by Walker, would be Mr. Alphonso, he rapes his own step-daughter, on more than one occasion, and then when Celie gave birth to two children, he gave them away. This was not the act of a decent human being. The characters can be described as raging, unprincipled creatures for many reasons. ...read more.


Arguably, this may be because the view at the time was that women were only seen as being good for the completion of household work, and were seen as lesser class citizens by men. Some critics have also criticised Celie for being pacifistic, as she doesn't attempt to retaliate to the beatings she receives. In opposition, Maroula Joannou states that, "To criticise her for her passivity is to do so in ignorance of fear which male violence produces in women." Lorraine Gamman concurs, saying that towards the end of the novel, Celie has become, "...empowered to reject the role of passive victim..." Even though the view is biased, I believe that if there were more good characters in the novel, like Samuel, then the message that is in the book would be diluted, and would therefore be of a lesser quality than to what it is. As the anonymous critic argued, the novel is about black women, not about black men; they are but devices in the book which make the plot more substantiated and realistic for the reader. Take for example Harpo, he gives realism to the novel because he shows the reader an image of a man that can be dominated by a woman, even though he tries in vain to be malicious towards Sofia, he just fails, abysmally, and ends up being beaten savagely by Sofia. "...it Harpo and Sofia. They fighting like two mens." Even though the book has caused controversy between both of the sexes, Walker's message has been superbly delivered, in this hard hitting realistic novel that gives a moving account of the struggle that some black women had to endure, yet, happily, triumphed through. ...read more.

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Some excellent and thought-provoking ideas are brought up in this essay, in particular the well researched alternative readings of the critics. These quotes could have been analysed and commented on more deeply and at times the essay is too simplistic in its arguments. Both sides of the argument could have been looked at in more depth.

Marked by teacher Katie Dixon 29/04/2012

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