A Comparative Study of Initiation Theme Between The Color Purple and The Joy Luck Club

Topics: Discrimination, Amy Tan, Alice Walker Pages: 12 (2258 words) Published: October 10, 2014
A Comparative Study of Initiation Theme Between The Color Purple and The Joy Luck Club Abstract

The Color Purple (1982) and The Joy Luck Club (1989) are two distinguished works of American minority literature. Under a comparative study, these two books tend to enjoy a similar initiation mode. First of all, the women in the two books similarly face the difficulties sparked by the confusion of cultural identity, the racial discrimination, and the sexual discrimination. Second, the novels develop in accordance with an almost same story line, which starts with the loss of identity, advances with self-quest, and ends with self-awareness. Last but not least, the theme of seeking for ethnic roots is also distinct in the two works.

【Key Words】initiation theme; racism; sexual discrimination; ethnic roots

The Color Purple, first published in 1982, has made the author Alice Walker one of the most remarkable figures in 1900s. It is creatively written in epistolary style, which covers heated ethic issues like racialism and sexism. The average black girl Celie, as the protagonist and the narrator, mainly tells the story about that she is separated from her beloved sister Nettie and endures long torturous life under the exploitation of her husband, but eventually awakens and attains her own happiness. The Joy Luck Club (1989) is the most distinguish work of the Chinese-American writer Amy Tan. This book consists of sixteen stories told by four immigrant families, focusing on their identity crisis and the conflicts between Chinese mother and the daughters raised in America. After Mordeeai Mareu, the pioneer of initiation study,the research of initiation story has been altered and expanded in many aspects. Generally, in initiation novels, the protagonist experience a period of agony or fierce changes, which can be conceived as the spark of his future awakening. Specifically, the misery experience can be various discriminations, a witness of a scary scene, and the loss of beloved family members, to name but a few. In The Color Purple and The Joy Luck Club, the protagonist similarly suffers from the pressure of cultural conflict, racial discrimination and the sexual discrimination. Those three elements together form their loss of identity, generating the confusion in their life. In The Color Purple, the author reveals the readers the tough life of Celie. As a black woman, she is poor and illiterate. She is first exploited by her father and then tortured by his husband, physically and mentally. The constitution endows them with equal rights with the white, yet fails to promise an equal condition for the minority. As an inferior, Celie frequently gets or witnesses the discrimination against her ethnic. The most remarkable example of the racial discrimination is the imprisonment of Sophia. Sophia is a rude but able-minded woman, who has long been envied by Celie, since she not only has great strength and sasses like men, but also is a dominant participant in her family life. However, her freedom is only conditioned to “her own family.” After the dispute with the white mayor and his wife, Sofia is imprisoned, gets blind in one eye, and finally serves as a maid in the mayor’s house. The tragedy of Sofia is a drastic disillusion to Celie, the reason being that even “strong Sophia” has to yield to the racial discrimination, let alone herself, a skinny and unlovely black woman. Those plots echo with the real condition of the African-American in last century, reproducing their tragic life under the WASP’s contempt. The sexual discrimination is even more significant in this novel. In her childhood, she is raped by her stepfather and delivers two children. Before Celie could take a careful look at the babies, the father takes them away. Her father acts like a dictator, arranging the unhappy marriage for her and Mr.___, a man who abuses her so that she even feel trembling to mention his name. She is the...

Cited: Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. Women and Economics.Prometheus Books, 1994.
Tan, Amy. The Joy Luck Club. New York: Ivy Books, 1989.
Walker, Alice. The Color Purple.Mariner Books, 2003.
Xie, Lihua.“A Comparative Study of Initiation Theme Between The Color Purple
and The Joy Luck Club.”Journal of Northeast Agricultural University, 2011.
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