Best known for her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Color Purple, Alice Walker portrays black women struggling for sexual as well as racial equality and emerging as strong, creative individuals. Walker was born on February 9, 1944, in Eatonton, Georgia, the eighth child of Willie Lee and Minnie Grant Walker. When Walker was eight, her right eye was injured by one of her brothers, resulting in permanent damage to her eye and facial disfigurement that isolated her as a child. This is where her feminine point of view first emerged in a household where girls were forced to do the domestic chores unaided by the brothers. Throughout her writing career, Alice Walker has been involved in the black movement and displays strong feelings towards the respect black women get.
In 1961, Walker entered Spelman College, where she joined the Civil Rights Movement. Two years after graduating in 1965, she married Melvyn Leventhal, a Jewish civil rights lawyer; afterward, they worked together in Mississippi, registering blacks to vote. In the summer of 1968, she went to Mississippi to be in the heart of the civil-rights movement, helping people who had been thrown off farms or taken off welfare roles for registering to vote. In New York, she worked as an editor at Ms. Magazine, and her husband worked for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
In 1970, Walker published her first novel, The Third Life of Grange Copeland, about the ravages of racism on a black sharecropping family. In Meridian, 1976, her second novel, she explored a woman’s successful efforts to find her place in the Civil Rights Movement. She read much of Flannery O’Conner's work and greatly admired her.
For one thing, O’Conner practiced economy. According to Herbert Mitgang of the New York Times, "She also knew that the question of race was really just the first question on a long list"(1983).
Much of Walker’s writings are very personal. For example, one of her first books once was written during a time in which she was pregnant and suicidal and it described how she had an abortion and dealt with all of its after effects. Unlike many other authors, she is not afraid to write about very personal experiences she has had. Since the beginning of her writing career, she has written sixteen books, including five novels, several collections of essays, short stories, children’s books, and poems...
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Overall, 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 over her view of black men, through this research it is concluded that the depiction cannot be narrowed down to black men. She was merely describing the kind of man who had the potential and who was abusive. Not suprisingly, most of the controversy streams from the fact that there aren’t other black male characters portrayed to counteract the depiction of the abuser.
This perceived imbalance however doesn’t mean that she is focusing all her anger towards black males, she is merely trying to illustrate topics that people know are true yet perhaps unwilling to admit it. Another good argument is that it seems as though critics are trying to force her to choose between her support for the black community and her support for the feminist movement, and she won’t do that for them. She is equally supportive of both, and that is a very admirable quality. Alice Walker was a very personal author who was not afraid to show or hide anything in the struggle against racism and support for black women.
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