Race and Class in Alice Walker's Color Purple

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Essay on Race and Class in The Color Purple An important juncture in Alice Walker's The Color Purple is reached when Celie first recovers the missing letters from her long-lost sister Nettie. This discovery not only signals the introduction of a new narrator to this epistolary novel but also begins the transformation of Celie from writer to reader. Indeed, the passage in which Celie struggles to puzzle out the markings on her first envelope from Nettie provides a concrete illustration of both Celie's particular horizon of interpretation and Walker's chosen approach to the epistolary form: Saturday morning Shug put Nettie letter in my lap. Little fat queen of England stamps on it, plus stamps that got peanuts, coconuts, rubber trees and say Africa. I don't know where England at. Don't know where Africa at either. So I stir don't know where Nettie at. (102) Revealing Celie's ignorance of even the most rudimentary outlines of the larger world, this passage clearly defines the "domestic" site she occupies as the novel's main narrator.(1) In particular, the difficulty Celie has interpreting this envelope underscores her tendency to understand events in terms of personal consequences rather than political categories. What matters ab... ... middle of paper ... .... 99-111. Shelton, Frank W. "Alienation and Integration in Alice Walker's The Color Purple." CLA Journal 28 (1985): 382-92. Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty. "Explanation and Culture: Marginalia." Humanities and Society 2 (1974): 201-21. Stade, George. "Womanist Fiction and Male Characters." Partisan Review 52 (1985): 264-70. Tate, Claudia. Domestic Allegories of Political Desire: The Black Heroine's Text at the Turn of the Century. New York: Oxford UP, 1992. Tompkins, Jane. Sensational Designs: The Cultural Work of American Fiction. New York: Oxford UP, 1985. Walker, Alice. The Color Purple. New York: Harcourt, 1982.
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