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“Feminine Narrative” In Alice Walker’s The Color Purple

1687 words - 7 pages

In the past two centuries, western mainstream cultures have subscribed to the belief that crying is commonly associated with femininity, regardless of one’s gender (Warhol 182). A considerable amount of literature, including Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, has been considered by critics as effectively using “narrative techniques” to make readers cry (Warhol 183). Emphasizing on these matters, Robyn R. Warhol, the author of “Narration Produces Gender: Femininity as Affect and Effect in Alice Walker’s The Color Purple”, analyzes the usefulness of the novel’s narration approaches, focusing on the meaning of Nettie’s letters to Celie and especially the fairy-tale unity in Celie’s last letter. Using The Color Purple as illustrated example, refusing to consider the accounts of gender and sexuality, the author suggests that the applications of culture’s “feminine mythologies” in the novel give readers chances to experience the physical (openly weeping) and emotional (identify self with the character) effects of femininity (Warhol 186). Although Warhol’s interpretations have successfully carried out the novel’s sentimentality within the context of culture and other novels, there is still a general lack of comprehensive examples that illustrated after each of her arguments. In order to corroborate and extend on Warhol’s central argument, the surprising factors of the novel’s ending combines with the elements of foreshadowing in Celie’s first confrontation with Albert about Nettie’s letters, Celie’s relationship with Shug, and the ugly truths about racism and sexism showing through Nettie’s and Celie’s letters should be considered as significant in creating the novel’s sentimentality.
Central to the Robyn R. Warhol’s essay is her viewpoints on “culture’s feminine mythologies”, using Celie’s last letter as set example to define them as “mythologies about sisters, mothers, children, and financial self-sufficiency” (186). According to Warhol, the scene beautifully lays out with the unexpected comeback of Nettie, her husband Samuel and Celie’s two children Adam and Olivia, which brings this ending to the new level of satisfaction. Even more meaningful than the established fortune that Celie inherits from her birth-father and promising future of her pant-making business, Celie’s unity with her lover Shug, her sister Nettie, her children and with others whom she treasures, including her husband Albert whom she has forgiven, are the factors that produce “good cry” (186). The beginning of this letter, where Celie’s address to “[…] God, […] stars, […] trees, […] sky, […] peoples, […] everything” gives Warhol the belief that even the novel’s audience is included in this celebration of happiness (Walker 291). In the end, Warhol crowns this fairy-tale happy ending as the most cry-worthy moment of this novel. This supports her previous argument that “the ‘good cry’ is much more often evoked by scenes of triumph than by scenes of sadness” (183).
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