Intersection of Race, Class, Gender and Sexuality define Social Positions in Alice Walkers The Color Purple

Intersection of Race, Class, Gender and Sexuality define Social Positions in Alice Walkers The Color Purple

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Sedgewick observes, one’s social position is affected by various axis of classification such as gender, sexuality, race, class and the interplay of these social identities. In The Color Purple by Alice walker, Sedgewick’s observations ring true. Celie, the main character in Walker’s novel, is a perfect example of these observations put forth by Sedgewick. Celie’s social position is indicative of her gender, sexuality, race, and class; as a Black woman living in Georgia in 1910 to 1940, one can expect to witness the general ‘acceptable’ racism present within the novel towards people of color. Despite the ‘acceptable’ racism, the novel accentuates the hardships and struggles the women of color in this novel have to go through. The social positions of the characters, more so Celie and Sofia, in Walker’s The Color Purple are based on the social identities of their gender, race, class, sexuality, and ethnicity.
Alice Walker’s The Color Purple takes place in Georgia from 1910 to 1940. During this time racism was easily visible and apparent in society. Black people were seen as lesser beings in contrast to their white counterparts. However, not only are all of the colored characters within The Color Purple forced, by means of oppression, into their social positions because they are not white, but also because some of them are women, lesbian, and lower class. As Crenshaw explains, “[b]ecause of their intersectional identity as both women and of color within discourses that are shaped to respond to one or the other, women of color are marginalized within both” (Crenshaw 5). Celie, the main character in the novel, is given enormous adult responsibility from a young age. After the death of her mother, she is pulled out of school in order to...

... middle of paper ... their respective Black (home) communities and the White (Georgia) dominated community they are apart of. Despite the fact that both of these communities are very different, these females are still heavily oppressed in each. While there is the ability to move out of class, the characters in The Color Purple are still placed in their social positions because of the intersection of their race, gender, and sexuality.

Works Cited

Bersani, Leo. "Loving Men." Constructing Masculinity. By Maurice Berger, Brian
Wallis, Simon Watson, and Carrie Mae Weems. New York: Routledge, 1995.
115-23. Print.

Crenshaw, Kimberle. "Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and
Violence against Women of Color." Stanford Law Review 43.6 (1991): 1241-
299. JSTOR. Web. 14 Feb. 2014.

Walker, Alice. The Color Purple. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1992. Print.

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