For Walker the use of language is to do with an expression of self in
opposition to gender oppression, of presenting self in opposition to a
language which is not your own.
Explain how this statement informs your reading of The Colour Purple (TCP), and
The Yellow Wallpaper (TYW).
In TCP, written in first person narrative, Walker uses the epistolary
style of writing, giving authority to the voice of Celie and enabling
the reader to accept her as having real presence and experience. In
her opening letter to God, it is obvious she has no self-confidence,
crossing herself out with a line through ‘I am’ (p.3 TCP). Because her
mother is so ill, Celie becomes a sexual commodity for her Pa,
epitomising a male dominated society, where women accepted patriarchy.
This epistolary style of writing was popular in the eighteenth
century novel sentiment, morally edifying the reader, with authority
being given to the protagonist, in this case, Celie. ‘Celie writes to
God, for lack of any living person with whom to share her troubles’
(p.155 Literature and Gender (LG). She is not able to defend herself
due to her multiple jeopardy, of being a woman, being black and being
uneducated. Celie is a woman who, through being raped and beaten by
her ‘Pa’, is ‘taught to fear men and devalue herself’ (p.55 LG). As
her letters progress, she grows in confidence within and about her own
language. In an early letter to God, written when her Pa stopped her
going to school after he got her pregnant the first time and her
younger sister continued to go, shows how she wanted to be educated,
‘I feel bad sometime Nettie done pass me in learnin’ (p.12 TCP). Later
on, she meets Shug Avery, her husband’s mistress, who helps her find
... middle of paper ...
...aper and uses it to ‘liberate’
herself from the normal domestic role expected of her, and from the
patronising husband’s language, such as ‘What is it little girl?’
(p.353 TYW). Through her hysteria, she interprets the patterns on the
wallpaper with a female language which is deliberately illogical,
Emotional, non-linear, intuitive, as opposed to rational and logical.
She writes, ‘There is a recurrent spot where the pattern lolls like a
broken neck and two bulbous eyes stare at you upside down’ (p.351 LG).
Both women are using their own language against male authority.
Goodman L. Approaching Literature. Literature and Gender.
Walker A. (1983) The Colour Purple. Great Britain The Women’s Press.
Audio Cassette 2: Women and Poetry AC2121
Audio Cassette 3: Gender and Drama AC2122
TV 2 Alcott and Woolf, Gilman, and Walker.
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