Monday, March 31, 2014

Flying false colors

          When examining the critiques that various writers center on when discussing The Color Purple, the main argument that runs throughout most works argues about the lack of validity presented in the work due to the pandering of the novel to only portray unrealistic characters and stereotypes in order to continue the popular notions of Afro-American culture through the eyes of those in power rather than the plight of one’s own people. Eugenia Collier argues this point early on when she says:
I am not concerned with what white artists are prevented from knowing. I believe that the assumptions on which white people in this country are reared will prevent them from knowing black life anyway, and the rationalizations necessary to retain the American myths will prevent all but the most unusual white artists from portrayals undistorted by built-in racism. Study what is touted as American literature and you will see how white American authors have portrayed blacks. I believe that the longer we give one damn about how whites see us and portray us, the longer we will remain mentally enslaved. The real issue involves the ways in which we choose to portray ourselves. (Gates 318).

The real problem with The Color Purple as tied into the discussion in class deals with this issue of the perpetuation of myths about the realities that blacks faced because the portrayal of characters in certain manners risk the potential to continue racist beliefs that undermine the point of the work, the creation of one’s own voice to change the world around her. In fact, Ann duCille argues a similar point when she writes, “For all of us--masculinists, feminists, womanists--the challenge of our critical practice is to see both inside and outside our own assumptions. Texts have a way of becoming what we say they are. But what's at stake is not just the fidelity we owe to the books we read, but the way we do our jobs, our own intellectual integrity.” (duCille 10).
            Therefore, in this sense, it appears as though the novel carried some power with it as it progressed the story of Celie, Mary Agnes, Sophia, Nettie, and others as they strove for the betterment of their world, however much like Huck Finn, the lack of a change in character betrayed us to the reality that the work covered up. Trudier Harris emphasizes this problem when she writes, “The fabulist/fairy-tale mold of the novel is ultimately incongruous with and does not serve well frame its message. When things turn out happily in those traditional tales, we are asked to affirm the basic pattern and message: Good triumphs over evil.” (Harris 160). Therefore, not only are we betrayed by the author, the characters, and its story, but we also betray the story by continuing to believe in the false realities that the novel presents. 

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