While reading the three essays for class I paused for a second to think about how much our subjectivity plays a role in reading a novel. In particular I focused on the pieces by Ann duCille and Trudier Harris because their reading of The Color Purple led to very different and opposing interpretations.
Harris critiques the novel for many different reasons. One prominent concern was the negative depiction of black men. Harris, to some degree, has a point; the black male characters in the novel are depicted poorly. Another qualm Harris takes up is with Celie submissiveness. Despite repeatedly being raped and abused by both her stepfather and Albert, Celie does not do much to change her situation. Again there is some truth behind this claim but I feel Harris’ view of the novel is missing some key facts, which is why I tend to lean towards the piece by, Ann duCille.
I agree with duCille in regards in viewing the novel as a more empowering piece. It raises issues of sexism within the black community, specifically black men against black women. It is pointed out in duCille’s essay that many black males find, The Color Purple Offensive, which is reasonable, as it does portray males negatively. My problem though, is the idea that this work is somehow an affront to the community in general. Men and women in the black community have not been treated equal and duCille points this out, “While I can hardly quarrel with the point that both black men and black women have been victims of American racism, the "we're okay" rendition of African American history carries with it a decidedly masculine bias that factors out the sexism which has indeed made some black men the enemy”. I feel this is a key element in the novel that is often times overlooked. The men are deliberately depicted negatively to make obvious the problems in society. In the end, though I understand how the book can be read as offensive, I do not agree with the criticism. The novel is a great work of art and serves to empower black females.