Types of Authors

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There are many different types of authors in the world of literature, authors of horror, romance, suspense, and the type that Alice Walker writes, through personal experiences. Although most critics categorize her writings as feminist, Walker describes herself as a "womanist", she defines this as "a woman who loves other woman...Appreciates and prefers woman culture, woman's emotional flexibility... and woman's strength... Loves the spirit... Loves herself, Regardless". Walker's thoughts and feelings show through in her writing of poetry and novels. Alice Walker writes through her feelings and the morals that she has grown up with, she writes about the black woman's struggle for wholeness and sexual, political, and racial equality. Much of Walker's fiction comes from her Southern background. She was born in Eatonton, Georgia, a rural town where most blacks worked as farmers. At the age eight she was blinded in the right eye when an older brother accidentally shot her with a BB gun, after which she fell into a depression. She isolated herself from the other children, and as she explained, "I no longer felt like the little girl I was. I felt old, and because I felt I was unpleasant to look at, filled with shame. I retreated into solitude, and read stories and began to write poems." During this seclusion from other kids her age, Walker began to write poems. That’s when her career as a writer began. Despite this tragedy in her life and the feelings of inferiority, Walker became valedictorian of her class in high school and received a “rehabilitation scholarship” to attend Spelman. Spelman College was a college for black women in Atlanta, Georgia, not far from Walker’s home. While at Spelman, Walker became involved in civil rights demonstrations where she spoke out against the silence of the institution’s curriculum when it came to African-American culture and history. Her involvement in such activities led to her dismissal from the college. So she transferred to Sarah Lawrence College in New York and had the opportunity to travel to Africa as an exchange student. Upon her return, she received her bachelor of arts degree from Sarah Lawrence College in 1965. She received a writing fellowship and was planning to spend it in Senegal, West Africa, but her plans changed when she decided to take ajob as a case worker in the New York City welfare department. Walker later moved to Tougaloo, Mississippi, during which time she became more involved in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.

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She used her own and others’ experiences as material for her searing examinations of politics. She also volunteered her time working at the voter registration drive in Mississippi. Walker often admits that her decision not to take the writing fellowship was based on the realization that she could never live happily in Africa or anywhere else until she could live freely in Mississippi.
She met her future husband Melvyn Leventhal, a Jewish civil rights attorney, in Mississippi where she was an activist and teacher. In 1967 Walker and Leventhal married, becoming the first legally married interracial couple to reside in Jackson, the state capital, they had one child together one year after they got married, named Rebecca . They divorced in 1976. Since then Walker has focused more on her writing and has taught at various colleges and universities. Walker is one of the most prolific black women writers in America. Her work consistently reflects her concern with racial, sexual, and political issues-particularly with black woman's struggle for survival. She explained, "The black woman is one of America's greatest heroes"¦.Not enough credit has been given to the black woman who has been oppressed beyond recognition." Walker's insistence on giving black women their due resulted in one of the most widely read novels in America today, Alice's third novel, "The Color Purple". The was the first book I had read by Alice Walker, the novel traces thirty years in the life of Celie, a poor Southern black woman who is victimized physically and emotionally by her step-father and husband. While in her teens, Celie is repeatedly raped by her step-father, who sells the children. Then she is placed in a loveless marriage to Albert, who also beats and torments her continuously. She eventually finds peace with the help of Albert's mistress, Shug Avery, a blues signer who gives her the courage to leave her marriage. At the end of the novel, Celie is reunited with her children and with her long lost sister Nettie. Walker earned many praises for the novel along with many criticisms as well. Those who praise the book such as Peter S. Prescott would agree with him when he said, "an American novel of permanent importance, that rare sort of book which amounts to a diversion in the fields of dread". Some felt differently about certain points the book made, one being the its negative portraits of black men, people like Darryl Pinckney state, "Walker's work shows a world divided between the chosen (black women) and the unsaved, the poor miserable critter' (black men), between the 'furnace of afflication' and a 'far off, miystic land of"¦miraculous. Walker's central characters are almost always black women; the themes of sexism and racism are predominant in her work, but her impact is felt across both racial and sexual boundaries. The first novel written by Alice Walker "The Third Life of Grange Copeland" (1970), again carries many of her prevalent themes, particularly the domination of powerless women by equally powerless men. In this novel, which spans the years between the Depression and the beginnings of the civil rights movement in the early 1960s, walker showed three generations of a black sharecropping family and explored the effects of poverty and racism on their lives. Because of his sense of failure, Grange Copeland leads his wife to suicide and abandons his children to seek a better life in the North. His traits are passed on to his son, Brownsfield, who in time murders his wife. In the end of the novel, Grange returns to his family a broken yet compassionate man and attempts to make up for all the hurt he has caused in the past with the help of his granddaughter, Ruth. While some people accused Walker of reviving stereotypes about the dysfunctional black family, others praised her use of intensive, descriptive language in creating believable characters. Walker is also considered an accomplished poet. Walkers first collection, Once: Poems (1968), includes works written during the early 1960's while she attended Sarah Lawrence College. Some of these pieces relate the confusion, isolation , and suicidal thoughts Walker experienced. For she had learned her Senior year that she was pregnant and had to deal with the stressful time that followed. Revolutionary Petunias and Other Poems was Walkers second volume of poems, in this she addressed such topics as love, individualism, and revolution. When Alice Walker lived in Mississippi and was active in the civil rights movement and teaching she experienced these such things. With Walker's most recent poems she expresses her ideas of races, gender, environment, love, hate and suffering, the same topics she writes about in her novels. In addition to her novels, and poetry, Walker has also published two volumes of short stories, In Love and Trouble: Stories of Black Women (1973) and You Can't Keep a Good Woman Down: Stories (1981), both of which evidence her womanist philosophy. Walker is still very much involved in the Civil Rights Movement and has spoken for the women’s movement, the anti-apartheid movement, for the anti-nuclear movement, and against female genital mutilation. She also started her own publishing company, Wild Trees Press, in 1984. Walker refuses to ignore the tangle of personal and political themes and has produced five novels, two collections of short stories, numerous volumes of poetry, and two books of essays that address such issues. She has won fame and recognition in many countries but has not lost her sense of rootedness in the South. She also recognizes her mother as showing her the life of “an artist entailed.” In her famous essay, “In Search of Our Mothers’ Garden” she talks about watching her mother at the end of a day of back-breaking physical labor on someone else’s farm return home, only to walk the long distance to their well to get water for her garden planted each year at their doorstep. She gives her mother full credit as showing her what it means to be an artist of dedication and showing a tough conviction that life without beauty is unbearable
She received the Pulitzer Prize in 1983 for The Color Purple, perhaps her most famous work. Among her other numerous awards are the Lillian Smith Award from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rosenthal Award from the National Institute of Arts & Letters, a nomination for the National Book Award, and the Townsend Prize. Among the many themes that Walker has addressed in her works include: incest, lesbian love, sibling devotion, sexual and racial realities, and the unavoidable connections between family and society. She is probably best known for her works on racial inequality, and Walker comments on this by saying: “Race is just the first question on a long list. This is hard for just about everybody to accept; we’ve been trying to answer it for so long.” Overall Alice Walker has been a very influential author throughout the black community, and her audiences are very much interracial. Although many of the criticisms are controversial on her view of black men and their abuse toward black women, that depiction can not be narrowed down to only that, there is much more that is present in Alice Walkers writing. Her feelings, morals and the opinions Walker has towards women, sexuality, and racial equality shine through her works of all literature.

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