The Color Purple By Alice Walker

1691 words - 7 pages

Paradoxical to popular belief, traditional gender roles are not something one’s taught but rather something one learns. At a very young age, children are infused with the mindset that they must act a certain way. Likewise, in Alice Walker’s novel The Color Purple, the protagonist Celie, believes that she is obligated to do what men tell her to. She starts writing letters to God since she has nobody else to share her secrets with. Soon she meets a woman named Shug, who makes her realize that there is more to life than she really thinks. Alice Walker’s novel The Color Purple demonstrates the progression of gender roles by emphasizing the importance of being able to express one’s thoughts and discovering oneself.
Gender roles are defined as a set of behaviors and or attitudes that is expected from a male and female. These behaviors are instilled in human beings at a very young age by parents and society. Parents are children’s first teachers and their greatest idol. “The first and one of the strongest influences on a person’s perceived gender role is his or her parents” (“Gender” 1). Parents not only teach children rudimentary skills such as talking and walking, but also attitude and behavior. Parents can serve as either a positive or a negative role model. Studies suggest that female children who are raised in abusive households will grow up to be abused by their spouse. This is because they never learned to stand up for themselves. Male children who grow up in abusive households will grow up to emulate their fathers and also abuse their spouse. “Sons of abusive husbands often grow up to abuse their own wives, and daughters of abused wives may grow up to become victims of domestic violence (“Gender” 2). This cycle continues through generations as parents teach their children that this behavior is okay and children choose to imitate them. In this case boys would think it is okay to abuse their wives as they are more dominant, and females would choose to allow for this violence to occur because they do not have a say. Traditional gender roles may vary from place to place. Depending on the society, in some cases gender roles are taken to the extreme and in others not so much. “Different cultures impose different expectations upon the men and women who live in that culture” (“Gender 1”). Parents, the way one is raised, and culture; these three things heavily impact a child’s influence on how to behave. At a young age men are told that they are more dominant and female told that they are weaker. In other circumstances females are victims of domestic violence, whereas males are the ones doing the act of violence.
Similarly, in the novel The Color Purple, characters such as Celie, Harpo, and Tashi are under the influence of such gender roles. Mr.__, Celie’s husband constantly abuses Celie. Seeing this Harpo realizes that the relationship between him and Sophia are not equivalent to the relationship that his dad shares with Celie. In fact, in Harpo’s...

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