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Alice Walker’s The Color Purple And Kate Chopin’s The Awakening

1259 words - 5 pages

Throughout history society has been controlled by men, and because of this women were exposed to some very demanding expectations. A woman was expected to be a wife, a mother, a cook, a maid, and sexually obedient to men. As a form of patriarchal silencing any woman who deviated from these expectations was often a victim of physical, emotional, and social beatings. Creativity and individuality were dirty, sinful and very inappropriate for a respectful woman. By taking away women’s voices, men were able to remove any power that they might have had. In both Alice Walker’s “The Color Purple” and Kate Chopin’s “The Awakening”, we see that there are two types of women who arise from the demands of these expectations. The first is the obedient women, the one who has buckled and succumbed to become an empty emotionless shell. In men’s eyes this type of woman was a sort of “angel” perfect in that she did and acted exactly as what was expected of her. The second type of woman is the “rebel”, the woman who is willing to fight in order to keep her creativity and passion. Patriarchal silencing inspires a bond between those women who are forced into submission and/or those who are too submissive to maintain their individuality, and those women who are able and willing to fight for the ability to be unique.
Patriarchal silencing can be enforced in three different ways; physical abuse, emotional abuse, and social demands and/or expectations. Although both books have opposite cultural and racial factors that influence the way in which the women in the books are treated, we can still see that these three ways of silencing women are present. In Alice Walker’s “The Color Purple”, the form of patriarchal silencing that is most prominent is the violent physical and emotional abuse. Also present within this book is a strong racial and social influence to the way in which the women are controlled. Celie was abused, raped and given away by the person whom she thought was her father. He was the first one to begin to impose the silence upon her, “When that hurt, I cry. He start to choke me, saying You better shut up and git used to it.”(Walker 1). Celie, at the age of fourteen, was then given to a man to be married. She was then forced to raise his children, clean, cook, and be sexually obedient. Anytime Celie resisted or did not complete the task in a satisfactory way she was physically beaten, “Harpo ast his daddy why he beat me. Mr. _____ say, Cause she my wife. Plus, she stubborn. All women good for – he don’t finish.” (Walker 22).
Despite the fact that the physical aspect of patriarchal silencing was an obviously successful way of controlling women, there were also more subtle ways of preventing women from gaining power and confidence in themselves. In Kate Chopin’s “The Awakening”, we are able to see quite clearly this more subtle approach. The form of silencing that is most prominent in this book is the emotional abuse and the force of social expectations. In...

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