Gender Roles In The Colour Purple And Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit

1578 words - 6 pages

Gender Roles in The Colour Purple and Oranges are Not the Only Fruit

In the novels, The Colour Purple and Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit a
masculine quality in a female character or, a feminine quality in a
male character is seen as a sign of strength and change. Both authors’
portrayal of gender and sexuality is an extremely significant aspect
in the novels. This essay will be focusing on how Alice Walker and
Jeanette Winterson present men and women as well as how the authors
present the idea that gender is distinct from sexual identity and if
rigidly enforced, gender roles can be highly destructive.

In The Colour Purple and Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, male
characters are represented in a variety of different ways. There are
some positive representations of men, however, they are mainly
portrayed as oppressors. The characters of Mr. _____ and the Pastors
are shown to be typical men who show authoritarian and tyrannical
values. In The Colour Purple Celie chooses not to acknowledge Mr.
_____‘s name, this shows that Celie is denying him a presence and
sense of individuality until right at the end of the novel. This is
the only way Celie can attain power. However, not recognizing
Mr._____’s name reinforces the fact that he has complete authority and
power over Celie and she is fearful of him as. The use of names is
also significant in illustrating power and status in Oranges Are Not
the Only Fruit. Pastor Finch and Spratt’s names are important in
showing that Jeanette is also living in a patriarchal society. Both
Pastors have a lot of respect and power in the church however their
names, Finch and Spratt show that they are named after a small bird
and a small fish. This is effective as it shows that outside the
confines of the church these two men have little importance in the
outside world.

The portrayal of men in The Colour Purple and Oranges is not fixed
therefore, along with the negative representations there many
different depictions of men in both novels. In The Colour Purple,
Samuel can be seen as positive male character as he is shown to be a
sensible and intelligent man who shows respect for women unlike many
other characters in the novel. In contrast, Oranges does not seem to
have a positive male representation however, Jeanette’s dad is seen to
be a passive character. The fact that Jeanette refers to her father as
her mother’s “husband” shows that Jeanette’s father is seen to be
extremely passive as he is seen as a her mothers possession.
Furthermore, lack of emotion in the language highlights his
insignificance in Jeanette’s life. Having these alternative
representations of male characters suggests the idea that the authors
are presenting gender as a variety, where there are no specific
qualities set for each gender showing that stereotypical ‘masculine

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