The Sociological Criticism of Alice Walker

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The definition of sociology is the study of society. Social criticism is the practice of analyzing a literary work by examining the cultural, political and economical context in which it was written or received. Alice Walker’s work demonstrates this type criticism very well; from “The Color Purple” to “Everyday Use,” or any of her earlier short stories. The majority of her work reveals the struggle of African Americans in society, especially women. Furthermore, her stories mirror a lot of the social characteristic that were taking place in America, from the 1940’s on; thus, making Alice Walker the epitome of sociological criticisms.
According to the bibliography portion of “The Color Purple” by Alice Walker, Alice was born in Georgia and attended Spelman College. After attending Spelman she transferred to Sarah Lawrence College in New York. Her first work was a book of poetry that was published while she was still in college. She moved to Mississippi and became a teacher and a civil rights activist (232). Most of Walker’s work is known for highlighting the struggle of African American women during her time and in the past.
One of the most popular works by Walker was, “The Color Purple.” In this Alice Walker story, the reader meets a girl named Celie, and is taken on a journey through much of her life. Through this tale, Walker draws attention to a number of social aspects during this time period.
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Through the mistreatment of Celie by both her step farther and her husband, Walker brings to light the abuse and mistreatment of African American women from 1910 through the 1940’s. “Women were also regarded as less important than men-both Black and white Black women doubly disadvantage. Black women of the era were often treated as slaves or as property” (Tavormina page 233). In this text, one can see the social standing regarding women of color during that time.” Harpo ast his daddy why he beat me. Mr._ say, Cause she my wife” (Walker the color purple page 23). This emphasizes the social aspect of gender inequality that most women suffered in society. Moreover, allowing the reader to see what was considered an acceptable way for men to treat their wives and daughters during that era.
The Color Purple also deals with the societal facet of racism. In the south where racism was much worst then any where else, Alice would have been remiss if she had not addressed it. One can see the evidence of racism largely through her character Sofia. In The Color Purple Sofia was a strong black woman, who was forced into servitude after she offended the mayor’s and his wife. “I’m at they beck and call all night and all day. They won’t let me see my children. They won’t let me see no mens. Well, after five years they let me see you once a year. I’m a slave, she say” (Walker, the color purple 105). One can see that even though slavery was no longer present during this time much of society still saw whites as the dominant race, and that societal...

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