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The Color Purple - Education/The American Dream/Capitalism

w/c03/12/12 (2)
by

Victoria Basma

on 7 December 2012

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Transcript of The Color Purple - Education/The American Dream/Capitalism

WHERE DOES THE AMERICAN DREAM EXIST IN THE COLOR PURPLE, OR DOES IT ULTIMATELY ONLY EXIST AS A DREAM? Through education and the process of acquiring written language that Celie begins to raise herself from the position of the ‘underclass’ to a more powerful position.

So, while the characters speak in an informal colloquial vocabulary (and while Walker’s irregular spelling emphasizes the characters’ unique speech patterns), the characters in The Color Purple are not working class:

Walker herself has asserted that she wanted to depict female characters who weren’t so burdened and unglamorous as most depictions of black women.
Thus Shug is quite a glamorous figure, and even Celie works her way into a reasonable style of living by the story’s end.

Indeed, Celie’s embracing of the capitalist ‘American Dream’ is wholehearted. Black is the colour of the underclass. And all Walker’s women are peasants...Bound to the land and their husbands (or fathers), worn by toil in the fields and the demands of childbearing, these women are the underclass of the underclass. This is why literacy and education are so crucial to the way Walker depicts the process of liberation... Clearly, the ability to raise questions, to objectify contradictions, is only possible when Celie begins writing her letters. What examples of successful business are there in The Color Purple?

How does Celie embrace the 'American Dream'

UPWARD MOBILITY

TO ACHIEVE THE MOST OF WHAT WE ARE INNATELY CAPABLE

REGARDLESS OF BIRTH OR POSITION The idea of the American Dream is rooted in the United States Declaration of Independence which proclaims that "all men are created equal" and that they are "endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights" including "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." [2] Africa's redemption through American capitalism, and the sustained superiority of the liberated African American woman against the sacrificed African within the novel, comments on the greater power and profile of the United States and the dream it represents.

What do you think Alice Walker's attitude is to business/capitalism? Clearly there is a paradox here:

'the novel suggests that a form of capitalism that has objectified women and racial minorities can also be the source of their redemption'

(p.66, Telling Incest, Janice L. Doane) 'The Color Purple affirms the American Dream for black Americans: 'the fable structure thereby perpetuates a lie in holding out to blacks a non existent or minimally existent hope for a piece of the great American pie'
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