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Alienation in The Revolver, Housewife, and How it Feels to Be Colored Me

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When society thinks of the term alienation, are they referring to the person ostracized by society or are they referring to the person who is psychologically separated from themselves? There are several different uses of this term. However, two uses seem to be especially predominating: the sociological processes and the psychological states. In “The Revolver,” “Housewife,” and “How it feels to be colored me,” Bazan, Chughtai, and Hurston respectively, relate both the social and the psychological aspects of alienation with respect to fear, oppression, and identity.
Exactly what is Alienation? Bloom’s Literary Reference states the definition as to “turn away in feeling or affection; make unfriendly.” While only looking at the sociological aspect, this definition does not address the term in its entirety. When alienation is present, there is a “divergence between human existence and human essence,” (political economy of socialism 84) meaning that the actual is not the same as the potential. German Philosopher G. W. F. Hegel coined the term alienation. Hegel believed it was the “gap between human consciousness and the natural world” (Quinn); the private life versus the public life. Karl Marx later added to the term to describe how workers are alienated from their work in a capitalistic society because they are no longer the creators of the product, they are simply part of the production line. “Through work man becomes a human being” (political economy of socialism 86), and when the workers are stripped of their work, they are no longer able to show off their own individuality.
Emilia de Pardo Bazan wrote from an original female perspective relaying how women were treated in Spanish society. She grew up as part of the elite class ...


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...w the black community is somewhat dependent on the white community. For oppressed women, “the man becomes the central, focal point of their lives” (women oppression). Yet Hurston shows Zora’s spirit as being dependent on the whites, for it was their attention that kept Zora’s spirits high. The colored people “deplored any joyful tendencies in [her].” As a result, it is easily notable that any oppressed being is dependent on something to keep them going.
Alienation is prevalent in all three of the works written above; whether it was sociological, psychological, or both. “The Revolver,” “Housewife,” and “How It Feels to Be Colored Me” all related how fear, oppression, and identity all apply within the different forms of alienation. Sociologically and psychologically, fear blocks one from logic, oppression turns to dependence, and one’s identity changes over time.


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