Examine the depiction of the Black male in Walker’s novel.

Topics: Domestic violence, The Color Purple, Marriage Pages: 5 (2297 words) Published: May 22, 2014
Some critics consider the portrayal of Black men “The Color Purple as unnecessarily harsh and brutal. Examine the depiction of the Black male in Walker’s novel. “The Color Purple” was written by the author Alice Walker, she won a Pulitzer Prize and the American Book Award for the novel. The novel describes that the American South during the first half of the twentieth century at a time when the South was segregated and women were limited in what choices they were able to make for themselves. Celie starts the novel by erasing herself from the present when she writes “I am”, and attempts to build herself up from this “site of negation”, a burden shared by women who try to forge an identity refusing cultural scripts of gender and sexuality entrenched in patriarchy and manifested through a man made language. (Abbandonato, 1991) Alphonso who Celie believed to be her father, uses her for his own sexual gratification and tells her if she does not be quiet it would kill her Mother. Alphonso’s words to Celie are, “You better not never tell nobody but God. It'd kill your mammy”. He intimidates Celie into keeping his abuse quiet by threatening her and telling her to only ever tell God. Alphonso rapes Celie repeatedly until he impregnates her twice and sells the children to a local missionary. Alphonso never tells Celie what has happened to her children so initially Celie thinks that Alphonso has killed them. Alphonso seems to have a sexual appetite for young girls as he goes on to marry a fifteen year old girl called Daisy.”This Daisy, he say. My new wife. Why, say Shug, you don’t look more than fifteen. I ain’t say Daisy.” Black fathers and father figures are viewed as being immoral, sexually unrestrained. (Washington, J.C) Later on in the novel Celie learns that Alphonso is not her real father, her real father had been lynched years before by a white mob. “Your daddy didn’t know how to git along, he say. White – folks lynch him”. Albert also known as Mr___ is a widower of four children; Alphonso asks if he wants to marry Celie and gains a cow out of it. “Mr. ___ say, That cow still coming? He say, Her cow”. Albert became a victim himself through the cycle of oppression, when Albert married and assumed the role of patriarch, he acted out all the lessons he had been taught. He punished the women in his life and neglected his children. By the time Albert marries Celie, Albert is truly a hateful, brutish, and lazy man. He expects Celie to do all the work around the house, care for his rude children and takes advantage of Celie by using her for his sexual gratification. To make himself feel more important and in control, he regularly beats her. “He beat me like he beat the children. Cept he don’t never hardly beat them.” Black men beat their wives or attempt to and neglect, ignore, or abuse their children. When the black men cannot control their wives through beatings, they violently dispatch them. (Washington, J.C. 1988) Albert’s first wife was killed outside a church; she was shot by her lover. “His wife died. She was kilt by her boyfriend coming home from church.”Albert was brought up under the oppressive thumb of a strict and demanding father, who stood in the way of him pursuing Shug, the true love of his life. Too weak to stand up to his father, Shug leaves him; throughout the rest of his life, he regrets that he did not marry Shug. . “You ain’t got it in you to understand, he say. I love Shug Avery. Always have, always will. I should have married her when I had the chance.” Albert’s father Old Mr.____ , comes to visit him and gets into a conversation with him when Shug is staying as she is ill. “Old Mr.___ say to Mr.___, Just what is it bout this Shug Avery anyway, he say. She black as tar, she nappy headed. She got legs like baseball bats.” “Why, say Old Mr.___, she ain’t even clean. I hear she got nasty woman disease.” Old Mr.____ says many nasty things about her expressing his hatred toward her until Albert finally snaps...
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