How Does 'The Color Purple' Use Language to Represent Issues of Gender and Race

1475 Words6 Pages
Alice Walker’s fifth novel, The Color Purple, has caused mass controversy among literary critics ever since its first publication in 1982. It deals with multiple issues that affected the lives of black African-Americans in the southern states of the USA during the early part of the 20th Century, many which still prevail today. This book has been challenged frequently ever since it’s first publication due to its extreme, uncensored points of view. However, Walker was awarded the 1983 Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, proving that the Color Purple had managed to display these views to the mass public with a positive response, as well as challenge the literary canon, which has always been filled with while male writers supporting patriarchal tradition. The strong views displayed in this novel are clearly aimed at black women, as the book captures the lost traditions of black women in the early 1900s, and this is backed up by the book’s first appearance in United Kingdom in 1983 being published by The Women’s Press, thus clearly labelling the target audience of the book. The littered patriarchal ideologies within the text can also be appreciated by both white females and males of all backgrounds, but each person will interpret the book differently. Women in particular will have to take a very different approach on reading this book to men, as females when they follow the tale of Celie will be able to appreciate the social oppression to her gender, and feel empowered by her struggle against the dominant, patriarchal traditions. The Color Purple focuses on the story of Celie, a young African-American girl, who writes a collection of letters to, at first, God. The use of the epistolary genre of writing has a strong significance throughout the book, as it reflects segments of thought from an individual person. This is contrary to a traditional form of
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