Such as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, sentimental novels are developed on the readers’ ability to sympathize and grieve with the characters. Emphasizing on this matter, the author of “Narration Produces Gender: Femininity as Affect and Effect in Alice Walker’s The Color Purple” – Robyn R. Warhol analyzes the novel’s narrative techniques of producing a “good-cry”. The author proposes that the novel has effective handling of “internal focalization”, which allows the sufferer’s perceptions to stand out. She also intends to use the novel to exploring further on the culture’s feminine mythologies and the idea of sentimentalism. With the lack of exclusive examples, Warhol’s approach displays several weaknesses: the heavy emphasis of “good-cry” novel as having “feminine narrative” and the culture’s ideas of femininity, and the absence of discussions about characters’ developments and its contribution to the sentimental level of the novel. In order to improve Warhol’s concept of “feminine narrative”, the factors of characters’ developments, of foreshadowing and the weight of culture’s femininity on the novel’s sentimentality should be evaluated thoughtfully.
In her essay, Robyn R. Warhol first explains the ideals of sentimental culture that it contains “the affirmation of community, the persistence of hopefulness and of willingness, the belief that every one matters, [and] the sense that life has a purpose that can be traced to the links of affection between and among persons” (186). These cultural patterns takes part in creating the idea of femininity, that The Color Purple was established using narrative techniques. She claims that this idea “gets produced and reproduced” frequently; therefore, these patterns has been absorbed by writers from generations to generations. Within the context of the novel, the concept was demonstrated through the “mythologies about sisters, mothers, children, and financial self-sufficiency” (185). Celie’s life is a detailed example for explaining these myths. Born and raised
as a black and uneducated woman, Celie represent the stereotypes that a female was accused of
by the culture at this particular period of time. Pa’s words on the value of Celie serves as the example: “She ugly. […] But she ain’t no stranger to hard work. And she clean. […] she ain’t gonna make you feed it or clothe it” (Walker 8). Celie’s connection with her sister Nettie, and later with the separation of the two shapes the emotional value for the story. Another turning point of the story is when Celie met Shug. Through the relationship of Celie and Shug, the readers notice to the strong growing theme of love and sexuality.
In detail, Robyn R. Warhol defines The Color Purple as having a “feminine narrative” which “enforces and reinforces the physical experience of an emotion the culture marks as specifically feminine,” but does not stress it on the gender of the character or the narrator (186). Warhol focuses on the novel’s effective...