The Color Purple Research Paper

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Purple America America was in its prime in the 1920’s. A time of many drastic changes, 1920’s Americans enjoyed a booming economy, a prosperous and wealthy upper-class society, and general international and national peace. For African Americans; however, the 1920’s meant facing economic struggle, racial prejudices, and gender stereotypes. In Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, the main character Celie experiences many boundaries within the workforce, domestics, and society of the 1920’s. Through many attempts to better her lifestyle and display her individuality, Celie finds life extremely difficult in the prejudiced, 1920’s South. Alice Walker did not experience the same discrimination Celie fights against, but, Walker portrays her familial bonds and childhood lessons through Celie’s personal struggles, aspirations, and accomplishments. Alice Walker’s The Color Purple explores the negative stereotypes of the 1920’s against women and blacks, detailing Celie’s mental and physical fight for happiness and freedom while learning to please herself without regard for others’ opinions of her, instilling in Celie a strong sense of self-confidence and self-determination. From the late nineteenth century to the early twentieth century, the United States went through two dramatic time periods: the Progressive Era and the Roaring Twenties. During the Progressive Era, (1895-1918,) the status of blacks worsened. Expecting to come home from World War One (1914-1918) as national heroes equal to whites, blacks found less job opportunities, encountered stronger racial prejudices than in previous years, and saw an incline in a white superiority mentality. Similar to the blacks returned from war, women - specifically black women – fought for gender equality even harder once returned men and soldiers took the women’s leading positions in the economy, politics, and business (Whitley). Despite the short amount of time the war allowed women to expand their roles in the work force;


Cited: “Alice Walker.” Contemporary Literary Criticism. vol. 46. Detroit: Gale, 1987. 422. Print. “Alice Walker.” Encyclopedia of World Biography. Advameg, Inc. 2010. Web. 1 March 2010. Harris, Trudier. “Alice Walker.” Contemporary Literary Criticism. vol. 46. Detroit: Gale, 1987. 425. Print. National Association for the Advanced Placement Exam. “Women at Home.” U.S. History: Preparing for the Advanced Placement System. Print. National Association for the Advanced Placement Exam. “Women in the Labor Force.” U.S. History: Preparing for the Advanced Placement System. Print. Stade, George. “Alice Walker.” Contemporary Literary Criticism. vol. 46. Detroit: Gale, 1987. 429. Print. Steinem, Gloria. “Alice Walker.” Contemporary Literary Criticism. vol. 46. Detroit: Gale, 1987. 424. Print. Whitley, Peggy. “Progressive Era: 1895-WWI.” American Cultural History – The Twentieth Century 1910-1919. Lonestar College Kingwood Library. Nov. 2008. Web. 3 Mar. 2010.

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