Race and Domesticity in The Color Purple

Linda Selzer An important juncture in Alice Walker's The Color Purple is reached when Celie first recovers the missing letters from her long-lost sister Nettie !his discover" not onl" signals the introduction of a new narrator to this epistolar" novel #ut also #egins the transformation of Celie from writer to reader $ndeed% the passage in which Celie struggles to puzzle out the markings on her first envelope from Nettie provides a concrete illustration of #oth Celie's particular horizon of interpretation and Walker's chosen approach to the epistolar" form& Saturda" morning Shug put Nettie letter in m" lap Little fat 'ueen of (ngland stamps on it% plus stamps that got peanuts% coconuts% ru##er trees and sa" Africa $ don't know where (ngland at )on't know where Africa at either So $ still don't know where Nettie at *+,-. /evealing Celie's ignorance of even the most rudimentar" outlines of the larger world% this passage clearl" defines the 0domestic0 site she occupies as the novel's main narrator + $n particular% the difficult" Celie has interpreting this envelope underscores her tendenc" to understand events in terms of personal conse'uences rather than political categories What matters a#out not knowing 0where Africa at0--according to Celie--is not knowing 0where Nettie at 0 1" clarif"ing Celie's characteristic angle of vision% this passage highlights the intensel" personal perspective that Walker #rings to her tale of se2ual oppression--a perspective that accounts in large part for the emotional power of the te2t 1ut Walker's privileging of the domestic perspective of her narrators has also #een judged to have other effects on the te2t $ndeed% critics from various aesthetic and political camps have commented on what the" perceive as a tension #etween pu#lic and private discourse in the novel - !hus% in anal"zing Celie's representation of national identit"% Lauren 1erlant identifies a separation of 0aesthetic0 and 0political0 discourses in the novel and concludes that Celie's narrative ultimatel" emphasizes 0individual essence in false opposition to institutional histor"0 *343. /evealing a ver" different political agenda in his attacks on the novel's womanist stance% 5eorge Stade also points to a tension #etween personal and pu#lic elements in the te2t when he criticizes the novel's 0narcissism0 and its 0championing of domesticit" over the pu#lic world of masculine power pla"s0 *-44. 6inall"% in praising Walker's handling of se2ual oppression% (lliott 1utler-(vans argues that Celie's personal letters serve precisel" as a 0te2tual strateg" #" which the larger African-American histor"% focused on racial conflict and struggle% can #e marginalized #" its a#sence from the narration0 *+44. 1" counterposing personal and pu#lic discourse in the novel% these critics could #e said to have pro#lematized the narrative's domestic perspective #" suggesting that Walker's chosen treatment of the constricted viewpoint of an uneducated countr" woman--a woman who admits that she doesn't even know 0where Africa at0--ma" also constrict the novel's a#ilit" to anal"ze issues of 0race0 and class 7 !hus 1utler-(vans finds that Celie's 0private life preempts the e2ploration of the pu#lic lives of #lacks0 *+44.% while 1erlant argues that Celie's famil"-oriented point of view and modes of e2pression can displace race and class anal"ses to the point that the 0non#iological a#straction of class relations virtuall" disappears0 *377. And in a strongl" worded rejection of the novel as 0revolutionar" literature%0 #ell hooks charges that the focus upon Celie's se2ual oppression ultimatel" deemphasizes the 0collective plight of #lack people0 and 0invalidates the racial agenda0 of the slave narrative tradition that it draws upon *0Writing0 849. 8 $n short% to man" readers of The Color Purple, the te2t's a#ilit" to e2pose se2ual oppression seems to come at the expense of its a#ilit" to anal"ze issues of race and class 9 1ut it seems to me that an e2amination of the representation of race in the novel leads to another conclusion& Walker's master" of the epistolar" form is revealed precisel" #" her a#ilit" to maintain the integrit" of Celie's and Nettie's domestic perspectives even as she simultaneousl" undertakes an e2tended criti'ue of race relations% and especiall" of racial integration $n particular% Walker's domestic novel engages issues of race and class through two important narrative strategies& the development of an em#edded narrative line that offers a post-colonial perspective on the action% and the use of 0famil"

"She Says an African Daisy and an English Daisy Are Both Flowers.ueen <ictoria immediatel" historicize the passage And if the ju2taposition of the two stamps on the envelope--(ngland's showcasing ro"alt"% Africa's complete with ru##er trees--suggests to Celie nothing #ut her own ignorance% to other readers the two images serve as a clear reminder of imperialism !hus Africa% mentioned #" name for the first time in this passage% enters the novel alread" situated within the conte2t of colonialism $mportantl"% Walker remains true to Celie's character even as she reconte2tualizes the "oung woman's perspective% #ecause the features of the envelope Celie focuses upon are entirel" natural ones for her to notice% even though the" are politicall" charged in wa"s that other features would not #e *for e2ample% Celie might have #een struck #" more purel" personal--and more conventional--details% such as the familiar shape of her sister's handwriting.relations0--or kinship--as a carefull" ela#orated te2tual trope for race relations !hese strategies ena#le Walker to foreground the personal histories of her narrators while placing those histories firml" within a wider conte2t of race and class 1oth the novel's so-called 0restriction of focus to Celie's consciousness0 *1utler-(vans +44-4:. but otally Different !inds" $mportant throughout the narrative% the kinship trope for race relations is articulated most e2plicitl" late in the novel when a mature Celie and a reformed Al#ert enjo" some communal sewing and conversation Celie herself raises the issue of racial conflict #" drawing on the @linka 0Adam0 stor" that has #een handed down to her through Nettie's letters 1eginning with the e2planation that 0 white people is #lack peoples children0 *-7+. and one wa" in which Walker's narratolog" complicates that perspective are illustrated #" the passage 'uoted a#ove Celie's difficult" interpreting the envelope sent #" Nettie at first onl" seems to support the claim that her domestic perspective 0erases0 race and class concerns from the narrative 1ut if this short passage delineates Celie's particular angle of vision% it also introduces te2tual features that invite readers to resituate her narration within a larger discourse of race and class 6or where Celie sees onl" a 0fat little 'ueen of (ngland%0 readers who recognize .% the @linka narrative provides an anal"sis of race relations e2pressed e2plicitl" in terms of kinship According to the @linka creation narrative% Adam was not the first man #ut the first white man #orn to an @linka woman to #e cast out for his nakedness--or for #eing 0colorless0 *-7+. (m#edded throughout The Color Purple. no more erases the criti'ue of race and class from the te2t than =uck's na>vet? in Huckleberry Finn constricts that work's social criticism to the #o"'s opinions !his individual letter from Nettie thus provides readers with a te2tual analogue for the novel's larger epistolar" form% illustrating one wa" in which the novel's domestic perspective is clearl" 0stamped0 with signs of race and class 1ut it is not onl" through such narrative indirection and reconte2tualization that the novel engages issues of race and class Walker's domestic narrative undertakes a sustained anal"sis of race through the careful development of famil" relationships--or kinship--as an e2tended te2tual trope for race relations An" attempt to oppose political and personal discourses in the novel collapses when one recognizes that the narrative adopts the discourse of famil" relations #oth to esta#lish a 0domestic ideal0 for racial integration and to pro#lematize that ideal through the anal"sis of specific integrated famil" groupings in Africa and America I. narrative features with clear political and historical associations like these complicate the novel's point of view #" inviting a post-colonial perspective on the action and #" creating a la"ered narrative line that is used for different technical effects and thematic purposes 4 !hat Celie herself is not alwa"s aware of the full political implications of her narration *although she #ecomes increasingl" so as the novel progresses. !he result of this rejection was the fallen world of racial conflict% since the outcast children were% in Celie's words% 0so mad to git throwed out and told the" was naked the" made up the" minds to crush us wherever the" find us% same as the" would a snake 0 @ffered specificall" as an alternative to the Audeo-Christian account of Adam% this para#le also offers readers an alternative account of @riginal Sin--defined not in terms of appropriating knowledge or resisting authorit" #ut precisel" in terms of #reaking kinship #onds& 0What the" did% these @linka peoples% was throw out the" own children% just cause the" was a .

6urthermore% )oris's relationship with the African villagers also seems prefera#le to that of other white missionaries #ecause% rather than wanting to convert 0the heathen%0 she sees 0nothing wrong with them0 in the first place *+D9. Compared to the overtl" racist actions of the other whites who ostracize )oris and her grandson% the (nglish missionar"'s relationship with the #o" at first seems in keeping with the ethic of treating all people as 0one mother's children 0 $ndeed% )oris descri#es her "ears as the #o"'s 0grand mama0 as 0the happiest0 "ears of her life *+D4. Although )oris descri#es her decision to go to Africa as an attempt to escape the stultif"ing roles availa#le to women in (nglish societ"% it is important to note that Nettie does not take )oris's hardships ver" seriousl" and draws upon fair"-tale rhetoric to parod" the woman's upper-class tri#ulations& 0She was #orn to great wealth in (ngland =er father was Lord Some#od" or @ther !he" were forever giving or attending #oring parties that were not fun 0D 6rom Nettie's perspective as a #lack woman familiar with the trials of the displaced @linka% )oris's aristocratic trou#les seem small indeed% and Nettie further trivializes the white woman's decision to #ecome a missionar" #" emphasizing that the idea struck )oris one evening when she 0was getting read" for "et another tedious date0 *+D8. Significantl"% #" retelling the @linka narrative% Celie is a#le to e2press naturall" some rather sophisticated ideas concerning the social construction of racial inferiorit"% since the m"th defines that inferiorit" as a construct of power relations that will change over time 6or the @linka #elieve that someda" the whites will 0kill off so much of the earth and the colored that ever"#od" gon hate them just like the" hate us toda" !hen the" will #ecome the new serpent0 *-77. !he @linka creation narrative also raises a 'uestion central to the novel's larger design& $s progress in race relations possi#leB Some @linka% notes Celie% answer this 'uestion #" predicting that the c"cle of discrimination will repeat itself endlessl"% that 0 life will just go on and on like this forever%0 with first one race in the position of the oppressor and then the other 1ut others #elieve that progress in racial harmon" is possi#le--that @riginal Sin ma" #e ameliorated--through a new valorization of kinship #onds& 0 the onl" wa" to stop making some#od" the serpent is for ever"#od" to accept ever"#od" else as a child of 5od% or one mother's children% no matter what the" look like or how the" act0 *-77. 1ut the relationship #etween the white woman and her African grandson is actuall" far from ideal% and Nettie's letters su#tl" 'uestion the 'ualit" of their 0kinship 0 $f the #o" seems 0fond of his grandmother0--and% Nettie adds% 0used to her0--he is also strangel" reticent in her presence and reacts to )oris's conversation with 0so#erl" o#servant speechlessness0 *+D4. : !hese latter @linka% then% e2press a domestic ideal for race relations% one that counters the sin of discrimination--#ased on an ideolog" of essential difference--with an ethic of acceptance that is grounded upon a recognition of relation% or kinship 1ut the universalist ethos of the domestic ideal for race relations is put to the test #" the larger narrative's development of historicall" situated% integrated kinship groupings in #oth Africa and America @f particular importance are two famil" groupings& the white missionar" )oris 1aines and her #lack African grandchild in Africa% and Sophia and her white charge Ciss (leanor Aane in America $n #oth cases the specific integrated domestic groupings serve to e2pose and to criti'ue the larger pattern of racial integration found in their respective countries Nettie meets )oris and her adopted grandson on a trip from Africa to seek help for the recentl" displaced @linka in (ngland% a trip Nettie calls 0incredi#le0 precisel" #ecause of the presence of an integrated famil" on #oard ship& $t was 0impossi#le to ignore the presence of an aging white woman accompanied #" a small #lack child !he ship was in a tither (ach da" she and the child walked a#out the deck alone% groups of white people falling into silence as the" passed0 *+D7. $n contrast% the #o" opens up around Adam and @livia% suggesting that he ma" feel more at home with the transplanted #lack Americans than with his white grandmother 3 $ndeed% the #o"'s su#dued #ehavior around his grandmother raises 'uestions a#out the possi#ilit" of kinship across racial lines% while his ease with the #lack Americans suggests that feelings of kinship occur almost spontaneousl" within racial groups !he nature of )oris's honorar" 0kinship0 with the Akwee villagers is 'uestioned more seriousl" still% #eginning with her reasons for taking up missionar" work in the first place As a "oung woman )oris decided to #ecome a missionar" not out of a desire to help others #ut in order to escape the rarefied atmosphere of upper-class (ngland and the pro#a#ilit" of her eventual marriage to one of her man" 0milkfed0 suitors% 0each one more #oring than the last0 *+D8. .little different0 *-7-.

Charting the course of empire through a catalogue of the material culture appropriated #" . !he fact that she continues to refer to the @linka as 0the heathen0 in her discussions with Nettie implies that% in spite of her fondness for her grandson% )oris never overcomes a #elief in the essential 0difference0 of the Africans attri#uted to her #" the Cissionar" Societ" in (ngland& 0She thinks the" are an entirel" different species from what she calls (uropeans She sa"s an African dais" and an (nglish dais" are #oth flowers% #ut totall" different kinds0 *++9. in recognition for her contri#utions to the village +. !here Nettie also discovers that whites sit on the countr"'s ca#inet% that #lack ca#inet mem#ers' wives dress like white women% and that the #lack president himself refers to his people as 0natives0--as Nettie remarks% 0$t was the first time $'d heard a #lack man use that word0 *+-. all the wa" up to the governor's mansion where 0the white man in charge0 *+88. $ndeed% missionar" work is tied to national interest from the time Nettie arrives in (ngland to prepare for the trip to Africa& the (nglish have #een sending missionaries to Africa and $ndia and China and 5od knows where all% for over a hundred "ears And the things the" have #rought #ackH We spent a morning in one of their museums and it was packed with jewels% furniture% fur% carpets% swords% clothing% even tombs from all the countries the" have #een 6rom Africa the" have thousands of vases% jars% masks% #owls% #askets% statues--and the" are all so #eautiful it is hard to imagine that the people who made them don't still e2ist And "et the (nglish assure us the" do not *++4-+:.!he self-interest that prompts )oris to #ecome a missionar" also characterizes the relationship she esta#lishes with the Akwee upon her arrival in Africa !here she uses her wealth to set up an ostensi#l" reciprocal arrangement that in fact reflects her imperial power to #u" whatever she wants& 0Within a "ear ever"thing as far as me and the heathen were concerned ran like clockwork $ told them right off that their souls were no concern of mine% that $ wanted to write #ooks and not #e distur#ed 6or this pleasure $ was prepared to pa" /ather handsomel" 0 )escri#ed as a mechanism that runs 0like clockwork%0 )oris's relationship to the Akwee clearl" falls short of the maternal ideal for race relations e2pressed in the @linka m"ths $n fact% )oris's relationship to the villagers is decidedl" paternal from the outset% since her formal kinship with the Akwee #egins when she is presented with 0a couple of wives0 *+D9.% she is trained #" a missionar" societ" that is 0run #" white people0 who 0didn't sa" a thing a#out caring a#out Africa% #ut onl" a#out dut"0 *++9.% Conrovia clearl" reveals a Western influence in more than its st"le of architecture% and its cocoa plantations provide the colonial model of integration that defines the white presence elsewhere in Africa--from the port town 0run #" a white man0 who rents out 0some of the stalls to Africans0 *+-:. Stripped of #oth the religious motivation of the other missionaries and the overt racism of the other whites% )oris 1aines through her relationship with the Akwee la"s #are the hierarch" of selfinterest and paternalism that sets the pattern for race relations in larger Africa $ndeed% from the moment that "oung Nettie first arrives in Africa she is surprised to find whites there 0in droves%0 and her letters are filled with details suggestive of the hegemon" of race and class Nettie's description of Conrovia is a case in point !here she sees 0#unches0 of whites and a presidential palace that 0looks like the American white house0 *++D.. 1" promoting a theor" of pol"genesis opposed to the @linkan account of racial origins% )oris calls into 'uestion her own a#ilit" to treat the Akwee as kin !he true nature of her 0reciprocal0 relationship with the Akwee is revealed when she unselfconsciousl" tells Nettie that she #elieves she can save her villagers from the same displacement the @linka suffered& 0$ am a ver" wealth" woman%0 sa"s )oris% 0and $ own the village of Akwee0 *+D4. makes the decision to #uild the road that ultimatel" destro"s the @linka village $ndeed% the later displacement of the @linka villagers #" the (nglish road#uilders--the main action in the African sections of The Color Purple--simpl" recapitulates the colonial process of integration alread" em#edded in Nettie's narrative of her travels through the less remote areas of Africa E6rom her eventual vantage point within the @linka's domestic sphere% Nettie #ecomes a firsthand witness to this process of colonization--a process in which she and the other #lack missionaries unwittingl" participate 6or although Nettie's reasons for going to Africa differ from )oris 1aines's in that the"% like those of the other #lack missionaries% include a concern for the 0people from whom FsheG sprang0 *+++. @riginall" esta#lished #" e2-slaves who returned to Africa #ut who kept 0close ties to the countr" that #ought them0 *++:.

% this passage #rilliantl" underscores Walker's a#ilit" to maintain the integrit" of the narrative's personal perspective--here that of a "oung girl's wonder at her first glimpse into the riches of her African heritage--even as she simultaneousl" invites readers to resituate that perspective in a wider conte2t of race and class $n fact% throughout the African sections of the novel% Walker's em#edded narrative ena#les readers to s"mpathize with the hopes and disappointments of the #lack missionaries while it simultaneousl" e2poses the limitations of their point of view !his narrative comple2it" #ecomes especiall" important in the passages concerning Samuel and Corrine's <ictorian aunts% !heodosia and Althea% whom the narrative asks readers #oth to s"mpathize with and to judge harshl" @n the one hand% as representatives of a group of #lack women missionaries who achieved much against great odds% the narrative asks readers to see these women and their accomplishments as 0astonishing0& no sooner had a "oung woman got through Spelman Seminar" than she #egan to put her hand to whatever work she could do for her people% an"where in the world $t was trul" astonishing !hese ver" polite and proper "oung women% some of them never having set foot outside their own small countr" towns% e2cept to come to the Seminar"% thought nothing of packing up for $ndia% Africa% the @rient @r for Ihiladelphia or New Jork *+DD. ""e Said "e #ouldn$t Do It to %e If "e #as %y &ncle" $f the integrated famil" of )oris 1aines and her adopted African grandson e2poses the missionar" pattern of integration in Africa as one #ased on a false kinship that in fact denies the legitimac" of kinship #onds across racial lines% the relationship #etween Ciss Sophia and her white charge% Ciss (leanor Aane% serves an analogous function for the American South Sophia% of course% joins the ma"or's household as a maid under conditions more overtl" racist than )oris 1aines's adoption of her Akwee famil"& 1ecause she answers 0hell no0 *:4. to Ciss Cillie's re'uest that she come to work for her as a maid% Sophia is #rutall" #eaten #" the ma"or and si2 policeman and is then imprisoned 6orced to do the jail's laundr" and driven to the #rink of madness% Sophia finall" #ecomes Ciss Cillie's maid in order to escape prison Sophia's violent confrontation with the white officers o#viousl" foregrounds issues of race and class% as even critics who find these issues marginalized elsewhere in The Color Purple have noted 1ut it is not onl" through Sophia's dramatic public #attles with white men that her stor" dramatizes issues of race and class =er domestic relationship with Ciss (leanor Aane and the other mem#ers of the ma"or's famil" offers a more finel" nuanced and e2tended ..missionaries from 0all the countries the" have #een0 *and% chillingl"% from peoples who no longer e2ist. Like the other political allusions em#edded in Walker's narrative% the appearance of )u 1ois in Aunt !heodosia's domestic sphere reconte2tualizes Nettie's narrative% and his comments serve as an authoritative final judgment upon the entire missionar" effort in Africa 1" structuring Nettie's letters around missionar" work% then% Walker achieves much 6irst% that work provides Nettie and the other #lack missionaries with a practical and credi#le pathwa" into the African domestic sphere Second% the institutional% historical% and ideological connections #etween philanthrop" and colonialism ena#le Walker to use that domestic sphere and the e2ample of )oris 1aines's integrated famil" to e2pose the missionar" pattern of integration in larger Africa 6inall"% the em#edded narrative line ena#les Walker to remain true to her characters even as she anatomizes the hierarch" of race and class that is first pictured in miniature on Nettie's envelope II. @n the other hand% the narrative levies its harshest criticism of missionar" work not against the white missionar" )oris 1aines #ut against Aunt !heodosia--and particularl" against the foolish pride she takes in a medal given to her #" King Leopold for 0service as an e2emplar" missionar" in the King's colon" 0 !he criticism is levied #" a "oung 0)u1o"ce%0 who attends one of Aunt !heodosia's 0at homes0 and e2poses her medal as the em#lem of the <ictorian woman's 0unwitting complicit" with this despot who worked to death and #rutalized and eventuall" e2terminated thousands and thousands of African peoples0 *-..

1ut later Sophia admits that she does feel 0something0 for Ciss (leanor Aane 0#ecause of all the people in "our dadd"'s house% "ou showed me some human kindness0 *--9. Whatever affection e2ists #etween the two women% however% has #een shaped #" the perverted 0kinship0 relation within which it grew--a relationship the narrative uses to e2pose plantation definitions of kinship in general and to e2plode the m"th of the #lack mamm" in particular Separated from her own famil" and forced to join the ma"or's household against her will% living in a room under the house and assigned the housekeeping and childraising duties% Sophia carries out a role in the ma"or's household which clearl" recalls that of the stereot"pical mamm" on the Southern plantation =owever% as someone who prefers to #uild a roof on the house while her hus#and tends the children% Sophia seems particularl" unsuited for that role And that is precisel" the narrative's point& Sophia is entirel" unsuited for the role of mamm"% #ut whites--including and perhaps especiall" Ciss (leanor Aane--continuall" expect her to #ehave according to their cultural representations of the #lack mother $t is% in fact% these e2pectations that get Sophia into trou#le in the first place% for when Ciss Cillie happens upon Sophia's famil" and sees her children so 0clean0 *:4. Sophia's feelings for Ciss (leanor are of course more am#ivalent When she first joins the ma"or's household% Sophia is completel" indifferent to her charge% 0wonderFingG wh" she was ever #orn0 *33.% or that% when Sophia leaves the ma"or's household *after fifteen "ears of service. Iredicated on this plantation model of integration% relations #etween whites and #lacks throughout the American South reveal a false kinship not unlike that of )oris 1aines and the Akwee 1ut in this instance the false kinship is dou#l" perverse #ecause it conceals an ela#orate network of actual kinship connections !hus Ciss (leanor Aane's hus#and feels free to humor Sophia #" referring to the importance of #lack mammies in the communit"--0 ever"#od" around here raise #" colored !hat's how come we turn out so well0 *---. Ciss (leanor Aane and is the one s"mpathetic person in her house% it is not surprising that the "oung girl 0doteFsG on Sophia0 and is 0alwa"s stickFingG up for her0 *33. 1ut through Sophia's e2perience in the ma"or's household% the narrative demonstrates that it is Ciss Cillie% the ma"or's wife% who is actuall" incompetent--who must #e taught to drive #" Sophia% for e2ample% and who even then can't manage a short trip #" herself !hus% when she suddenl" decides to drive Sophia home for a visit% Ciss Cillie stalls the car and ruins the transmission% the mistress una#le to master driving in reverse !oo afraid of #lack men to allow one of Sophia's relatives to drive her #ack home alone% Ciss Cillie reveals her childlike dependence upon Sophia% who must cut short her first visit with her children in five "ears to ride home with the distraught white woman Sophia's position as domestic within the ma"or's household thus ena#les Walker to su#vert the discourse of plantation kinship #" suggesting that it actuall" supports a group of people who are themselves incompetent or% in Sophia words% 0#ackward% clums"% and unluck"0 *3D. After rejoining her own famil"% Sophia resents Ciss (leanor Aane's continuing intrusions into her famil" life and suggests that the onl" reason she helps the white girl is #ecause she's 0on parole 5ot to act nice0 *+:8. An historical appropriation of domestic discourse for political ends% descriptions of the #lack mamm" were used #" apologists for slaver" to argue that the plantation s"stem #enefited the people whom it enslaved #" incorporating supposedl" inferior #lacks into productive white families +.% she assumes that Sophia would make a perfect maid and that Sophia would like to come and work in her household Similarl"% Ciss (leanor Aane assumes that Sophia must return her famil" feelings in kind% without considering Sophia's true position in her household Similarl"% Ciss (leanor Aane assumes that Sophia must return her famil" feelings in kind% without considering Sophia's true position in her household !he "oung white woman's stereot"pical projections #ecome clear when she can't understand wh" Sophia doesn't 0just love0 her new son% since% in her words% 0all other colored women $ know love children0 *--8--9.criti'ue of racial integration% al#eit one that has often #een overlooked ++ Like )oris 1aines and her #lack grandson% Sophia and Ciss (leanor Aane appear to have some genuine famil" feelings for one another Since Sophia 0practicall" raiseFsG0 *---.--while other white men refuse to recognize the children .% Ciss (leanor Aane continues to seek out her approval and her help with the 0mess #ack at the house0 *+:8.And Sophia e2plicitl" ties her emplo"ers to such plantation definitions of racial difference& 0!he" have the nerve to tr" to make us think slaver" fell through #ecause of us Like us didn't have sense enough to handle it All the time #reaking hoe handles and letting the mules loose in the wheat0 *3D.

L and the novel's two narrators% Celie and Nettie% are jo"full" and tearfull" reunited (ven Al#ert and Celie are reconciled% his change of heart signaled #" his earning the right to have his first name written Coming after Celie has achieved #oth economic independence and . .--or perhaps because he recognizes her--the warden rapes S'ueak% den"ing their kinship in the ver" act of perverting it As S'ueak herself recounts% 0=e sa" if he was m" uncle he wouldn't do it to me0 *39.% Cr -----. "#hite 'eo(le )ff *elebrating heir Inde(endence..reveals that kinship relations #etween whites and #lacks are so e2tensive in the communit" that it ma" #e assumed that someone will #e related #" #lood to the warden !hat someone% of course% is S'ueak =opeful that she will #e a#le to gain Sophia's release from the warden on the #asis of their kinship% the others dress S'ueak up 0like she a white woman0 with instructions to make the warden 0see the =odges in "ou0 *3-.know he colored0 *:4-::. When an e2asperated Sophia finall" admits that she doesn't love the #a#"% Ciss (leanor Aane accuses her of #eing 0unnatural0 and implies that Sophia should accept her son #ecause he is 0just a little #a#"H0 *--9.almost on famil" terms0L that is% 0just so long as Cr -----. 1oth an intensel" personal and highl" political act% S'ueak's rape e2poses the denial of kinship at the heart of race relations in the South and underscores the individual and institutional power of whites to control the terms of kinship--and whatever power those definitions conve"--for their own interests +7 $t is specificall" as an act of resistance to this power that Sophia comes to reject Ciss (leanor Aane's #a#" and there#" to challenge the @linka kinship ideal for race relations 6rom the time her son is #orn% Ciss (leanor Aane continuall" tests out Sophia's maternal feelings for him% 0shoving /e"nolds Stanle" (arl in her face0 almost 0ever" time Sofia turnFsG around0 *--7.the" father with #lack women As Celie sa"s of Cr ------'s son 1u#% he 0look so much like the Sheriff% he and Cr -----. Like the apologists for slaver"% then% the Southern whites in The Color Purple keep alive a counterfeit definition of famil" while den"ing the real ties that #ind them to African Americans $n fact% the underl"ing s"stem of kinship that e2ists in the American South has more to do with white uncles than #lack mammies% as is clear from the scene in which Sophia's famil" and friends consider various stratagems for winning her release from prison 1" asking% 0Who the warden's #lack kinfolksB0 *3.. &s *an S(end the Day *elebrating Each )ther" The Color Purple closes with a cele#ration of kinship% its concluding action composed of a series of famil" reunions& Sophia patches things up with =arpoL Shug visits her estranged children *for the first time in thirt" "ears. $n su#verting the plantation model of kinship in general and the role of mamm" that it assigns to #lack women in particular% then% Sophia's position as an unwilling domestic in the ma"or's household underscores the importance of the personal point of view to the novel's political criti'ue of race relations $ndeed% the personal point of view of The Color Purple is central to its political message& $t is precisel" the African American woman's subjectivity that gives the lie to cultural attempts to reduce her--like Sophia--to the role of the contented worker in a privileged white societ" +8 III.% /e"nolds Stanle" also takes after his father% who is e2cused from the militar" to run the famil" cotton gin while Sophia's own #o"s are trained for service overseas !o Sophia% /e"nolds Stanle" is #oth the living em#odiment of and literal heir to the s"stem that oppresses her& 0=e can't even walk and alread" he in m" house messing it up )id $ ast him to comeB )o $ care whether he sweet or notB Will it make an" difference in the wa" he grow up to treat me what $ thinkB0 *--8..--an innocent who% presuma#l"% should not #e #lamed for the racist sins of his fathers 6rom Sophia's vantage point as a persecuted #lack woman% however% /e"nolds Stanle" is not 0just a sweet% smart% cute% innocent little #a#" #o" 0 =e is in fact the grandson and namesake of the man who #eat her #rutall" in the street% a man whom he also resem#les ph"sicall" A 0white something without much hair0 with 0#ig stuck open e"es0 *--7. $n spite of the fact that the warden does recognize S'ueak as kin 0the minute FsheG walkFsG through the door0 *37. /eminding Ciss (leanor Aane of the real social conditions that separate her from /e"nolds Stanle" in spite of his 0innocence%0 Sophia articulates a strong position counter to the @linka kinship ethic of treating ever"one like one mother's children& 0 all the colored folks talking #out loving ever"#od" just ain't looked hard at what the" thought the" said0 *--4.

+9 Sophia's comment maintains the legitimac" of her own hard-earned attitudes toward the child% even as it reserves the possi#ilit" that different attitudes ma" #e possi#le in future generations Sophia's emplo"ment in Celie's dr" goods store also seems to signal an improvement in race relations% not onl" #ecause it represents Sophia's final escape from her position as mamm" #ut also #ecause shops are used throughout The Color Purple to represent the status of economic and social integration #etween #lacks and whites !hus earl" in the novel Corrine% a Spelman graduate% is insulted when a white clerk calls her 05irl0 *+8. /efusing to tolerate free competition from a #lack-owned and #lack-operated #usiness% whites eventuall" #urn the store and l"nch Celie's Ia and his two #rothers !he tragic histor" of Celie's real Ia thus compels readers to reinterpret Celie's famil" histor" in terms of the historical lack of access of African Americans to the 0American )ream 0 1elieving that Celie's real Ia 0didn't know how to git along%0 Alphonso% her step-pa% e2presses a different path to economic integration& !ake me% he sa"% $ know how the" is !he ke" to all of 'em is mone" !he trou#le with our people is as soon as the" got out of slaver" the" didn't want to give the white man nothing else 1ut the fact is% "ou got to give 'em something (ither "our mone"% "our land% "our woman or "our ass So what $ did was just right off offer to give 'em mone" 1efore $ planted a seed% $ made sure this one and that one knowed one seed out of three was planted for him. 1ut in addition to suggesting that the individual realizes her full potential onl" within the supporting #onds of a strong kinship group *no matter how unconventionall" that group might #e defined.% the conclusion to The Color Purple also addresses the ve2ing 'uestion posed #" the @linka Adam narrative& $s progress in race relations possi#leB 1" #ringing to closure two earlier narrative threads--one dealing with Sophia and Ciss (leanor Aane% and the other with Sophia's relationship to work--the novel suggests that progress in race relations is possi#le 1ut the narrative's ending also contains arresting images of racial segregation in #oth Africa and America that complicate the idea of progress and ultimatel" move the narrative toward a final definition of kinship #ased on race After their falling out over /e"nolds Stanle"% Sophia and Ciss (leanor Aane are reunited when the ma"or's daughter finall" learns from her famil" why Sophia came to work for them in the first place Ciss (leanor Aane su#se'uentl" comes to work in Sophia's home% helping with the housework and taking care of Sophia's daughter =enrietta Clearl" an improvement in the domestic relationship #etween the two women% this new arrangement e2presses Ciss (leanor Aane's new understanding of their domestic histor" together& !o her famil"'s 'uestion 0Whoever heard of a white woman working for niggersB0 Ciss (leanor Aane answers% 0Whoever heard of some#od" like Sophia working for trashB0 6or her part% Sophia's acceptance of Ciss (leanor Aane in her own home also signals progress% although when Celie asks pointedl" if little /e"nolds Stanle" comes along with his mother% Sophia sidesteps the issue of her own feelings for the child #" answering% 0=enrietta sa" she don't mind him0 *-73. 1efore $ ground a grain of wheat% the same thing And when $ opened up "our dadd"'s old store in town% $ #ought me m" own white #o" to run it And what make it so good% he sa"% $ #ought him with whitefolks' mone" *+99.emotional securit"% the reunions at the end of The Color Purple testif" to the importance of kinship to the happiness of ever" individual Appropriatel"% then% when the two sisters fall into one another's arms at last% each identifies her kin& Nettie introduces her hus#and and the children% and Celie's first act is to 0point up at FherG peoples Shug and Al#ert0 *-87. Alphonso's decision to pa" off whites and #u" a white #o" to work in the dr" goods store esta#lishes him in the tradition of the trickster who pla"s the s"stem for his own #enefitL however% the model of integration he represents is finall" seen as accommodationist Alphonso% in fact% is identified . and intimidates her into #u"ing some thread she doesn't want Later the novel contrasts the histories of Celie's real Ia and Step-pa as store owners% histories that comment on the a#ilit" of African Americans to achieve economic integration into the American mainstream +4 Celie's real father% in the tradition of the American success stor"% works hard% #u"s his own store% and hires two of his #others to work it for him $ronicall"% his model of industr" and enterprise fails% since the store's ver" success leads 0white merchants FtoG complain that this store was taking all the #lack #usiness awa" from them0 *+83.

$nstead% !ashi's 'uick acceptance #" the Southern women% who make a fuss over her and 0stuff her0 with food *-88. warriors who 0live deep in the jungle% refusing to work for whites or #e ruled #" them0 *+D7.% suggests once again that feelings of #lack identit" make it eas" for people to treat others as 0one mother's children 0 +: 1ut if the conclusion to The Color Purple suggests that feelings of racial identit" can transcend national #oundaries% the novel provides no such reassurances that the #oundaries #etween races can #e successfull" negotiated !hat so#er conclusion is confirmed #" the outcome of two other attempts at integration !he first is that of Shug's son% a missionar" on an $ndian reservation in the American West . $n direct contrast to the white clerk who intimidated Corrine earlier% Sophia refuses to coerce customers and turns out to #e especiall" good at 0selling stuff0 #ecause 0she don't care if "ou #u" or not 0 $mportantl"% Sophia also resists the white clerk's attempts to define their relationship in the terms of plantation kinship& When he presumes to call her 0auntie%0 she mocks him #" asking 0which colored man his mama sister marr"0 *-7:-73. After he has made his fortune% Alphonso recalls the compromised African president descri#ed in Nettie's letter--like him Alphonso lives in a house that now looks like a 0white person's house0 *+97. $nstead% the conclusion leaves readers with images of an emerging Ian-Africanism in Africa and a nascent #lack nationalism in the American South $n Africa separatism is represented #" the mbeles. While race relations in Celie's integrated store are o#viousl" not ideal% Sophia's emplo"ment there is nonetheless #oth a personal and a communal triumph& Sophia finds emplo"ment that suits her as an individual% and the #lack communit" is treated with new respect in the marketplace Significantl"% these small steps toward progress in race relations come not from some realization of the @linka ideal or an" recognition of identit" between the races #ut from an evolving separatism and parallel growth in racial identit" within the African and African American communities !he possi#ilit" of treating ever"one like 0one mother's children0 is achieved within #ut not #etween racial groups #" the end of The Color Purple. The Color Purple accuratel" depicts the historical origin of man" African 0tri#es0 or nations in the reorganization of older societies decimated #" colonization !heir plans for the white man's 0destruction--or at least for his removal from their continent0 *-+:L italics added.with white power from the #eginning of the novel% where he is seen going off with a group of white men armed with guns *++-+-. Composed of men and women 0from dozens of African tri#es%0 the mbeles are particularl" significant #ecause the" comprise a remnant group defined not #" traditional village #loodlines #ut #" their common e2perience of racial oppression and their shared commitment to active resistance% which takes the form of 0missions of sa#otage against the white plantations0 *-78. $ndeed% the spirit of cele#rator" kinship with which the novel closes is achieved #" Celie's group specificall" in isolation from whites% as =arpo e2plains& 0White people #us" cele#rating the" independence from (ngland Aul" 8th so most #lack folks don't have to work Ms can spend the da" cele#rating each other0 *-8-. 1" ju2taposing 0white people0 and 0#lack folks%0 =arpo distinguishes his kinship group from the kinship of whites% defined #" privilege and national identit" $mportantl"% the 0folks0 that =arpo refers to now include Celie's African daughter-in-law% !ashi Also significantl"% that group does not include Ciss (leanor Aane% no matter how strained her relationship with her own famil" or how successful her reunion with Sophia !ashi's eas" integration into the #lack communit" effaces her earlier fears that coming to America would ro# her of all kinship ties% leaving her with 0no countr"% no people% no mother and no hus#and and #rother0 *-79. $n the mbeles.% and like him he esta#lishes paternalistic relationships with other #lacks !hus when Shug asks Alphonso's new wife% a 0child0 not 0more than fifteen%0 wh" her parents allowed her to marr" him% the girl replies& 0!he" work for him Live on his land0 *+98. Alphonso's marriage thus makes e2plicit the degree to which his identification with white paternalism shapes his domestic relationships with other #lacks $n the conte2t of these earlier histories% Sophia's coming to work in Celie's dr" goods store has wider significance than just her finding suita#le work outside the home $ndeed% for the first time in its histor" the store has an integrated workforce% since Celie keeps the 0white man0 who works there even as she hires Sophia to 0wait on0 #lacks and 0treat 'em nice0 *-89.--also reflect a nascent pan-Africanism among the disenfranchised $ncluding among their num#er 0one colored man from Ala#ama%0 the mbeles represent a form of kinship that is defined #" racial rather than national identit" $n America% a parallel growth in #lack identit" is suggested #" Celie's final letter in The Color Purple.

% The Color Purple has + .!he American $ndians refuse to accept her son% Shug e2plains% #ecause 0ever"#od" not a $ndian the" got no use for0 *-7:. and notes that 0terms like 'sentimental' and 'idealistic' are not themselves transparent descriptions of knowledge or response0 #ut 0carr" with them cultural prescriptions and assumptions and have themselves to #e historicized0 *D7.. +3 !he failure of Shug's son to #ecome integrated into the American $ndian communit" contrasts with Car" Agnes's successful integration with the mi2ed peoples of Cu#a% #ut her e2perience there also emphasizes the importance of racial identit" to kinship definitions $ndeed% it is #ecause she is a person of color that Car" Agnes is recognized as kin& (ven though some of the Cu#an people are as light as Car" Agnes while others are 0real dark%0 Shug e2plains% the" are 0all in the same famil" though !r" to pass for white% some#od" mention "our grandma0 *-++. See also Susan K =arris and Claudia !ate Called Walker's 0#est #ut most pro#lematic0 novel #" 1ernard 1ell *-47. !hus in Cu#a--as well as in Africa and North America--feelings of racial identit" among marginalized peoples #ecome the #asis for definitions of kinship #" novel's end 6inall"% it is not surprising that% in ela#orating her domestic trope for race relations% Walker is a#le to foreground the personal e2perience of her narrators while simultaneousl" offering an e2tended criti'ue of racial integration As Walker's integrated families remind us% the #lack famil" has seldom e2isted as a private% middle-class space protected from the interference of the stateL therefore% the African American household is particularl" inscri#ed with social meanings availa#le for narration /ather than opposing pu#lic and private spheres% Walker's narrative underscores their interpenetration $f her narrative does reveal an opposition% it is not #etween pu#lic and private discourse #ut #etween the universalist ethos of the @linka ideal for race relations and the historical e2perience of African Americans as reflected in the narrative's anal"sis of specific integrated famil" groupings 6or if the @linka ideal 'uestions the true nature of kinship in the novel's integrated families% these families also serve to criticize the @linka m"th for tracing the origins of racial discrimination #ack to some imaginar" sin of #lack people% rather than to real% historical discrimination #" whites $t ma" #e% however% that the growing sense of racial separatism at the conclusion to the The Color Purple is not necessaril" at odds with the @linka ideal for race relations Iast discrimination itself ma" dictate that improved relations #etween the races must #egin with the destruction of false relations--the discover" of kinship among the disenfranchised the necessar" first step% perhaps% toward recognizing all others as part of the same famil" Like the @linka Adam m"th% the conclusion to Walker's novel raises the 'uestion of the future of race relations% #ut also like that m"th% the novel offers no certain predictions @ne thing is certain% however Critics who #elieve that The Color Purple sacrifices its a#ilit" to criti'ue the pu#lic world of #lacks in favor of dramatizing the personal e2perience of its narrators not onl" run the risk of reducing the narrative's technical comple2it"% #ut also of overlooking the work's sustained criti'ue of racial integration levied from within the domestic sphere !hrough its em#edded narrative line and carefull" ela#orated kinship trope for race relations% The Color Purple offers a criti'ue of race that e2plores the possi#ilit" of treating all people as 0one mother's children0--while remaining unremittingl" sensitive to the distance that often separates even the #est of human ideals from real historical conditions +otes 1" characterizing the novel's point of view as 0domestic%0 $ mean no criticism% as m" paper will make clear C" approach to The Color Purple is in s"mpath" with recent revaluations of the domestic sphere in literature See% for e2ample% 1ar#ara Christian% who charts in her discussion of 5eorge Simms *-. Closer at hand% Alison Light has attri#uted critics' 0fear0 of the happ" ending in The Color Purple to similar attitudes toward sentimentalit" in fictionL Light points to an 0'androcentricit"' implicit and produced0 in the 0making0 of pu#lic and private spheres *D-. the well-known nineteenth-centur" denigration of sentimental fiction #" male writersL and Aane !ompkins% who has argued that earlier interpretations of sentimental fiction were shaped #" critics who taught 0generations of students to e'uate popularit" with de#asement% emotionalit" with ineffectiveness% religiosit" with faker"% domesticit" with trivialit"--and all of these% implicitl"% with womanl" inferiorit"0 *+-7.

and $ifference. Note that% #ecause of its la"ered narrative line% Walker's te2t is capa#le of another form of 0dou#leness0--an a#ilit" to signif" upon itself : While m" purpose here is to focus primaril" upon the representation of racial integration rather than gender% $ should also note that this domestic ideal is e2pressed specificall" in terms of matrilineal #onds !he recognition of all people as 0one mother's children0 is in keeping% of course% with the construction of gender elsewhere in the novel Woman's love% understood as growing out of the e2perience of identit" #etween mother and child *rather than out of the perception of difference #etween the se2es. "ritin#. Similarl"% 1erlant discusses Walker's 0strateg" of inversion% represented in its elevation of female e2perience over great patriarchal events0 *38:.generated controvers" since its pu#lication in +D3.and especiall" since the appearance of the +D39 film of the same title $t should #e noted that academic discussions of Celie's point of view in The Color Purple are paralleled in interesting wa"s #" a controvers" in the popular media over the representation of #lack men in novel and film $n 0Sifting !hrough the Controvers"& /eading The Color Purple. 1ut hooks's criticism is pro#lematic in light of the classical slave narrative tradition itself 6emale authors of slave narratives often drew heavil" upon the tradition of the sentimental novel to tell their stories Note% for e2ample% the case of what toda" is pro#a#l" the #est known woman's narrative% =arriet Aaco#s's %ncidents in the &ife of a 'lave (irl. !he 'uotation marks indicate that 0race0 does not refer to some essential nature or fi2ed difference #etween people 5ates's collection illustrates a variet" of critical approaches to what he calls 0the comple2 interpla" among race% writing% and difference0 *+9. and especiall" to his anal"sis of se2ual oppression% $ #elieve his focus on the gender issues at the center of Walker's narrative leads him to underestimate #oth the e2tent and the importance of the novel's representation of race 1erlant's sophisticated argument cannot #e summarized here% #ut if she means to limit--as $ #elieve she does--her anal"sis of 0nation0 to Celie's understanding of the term% then our anal"ses ma" not #e so much in conflict as the" first appear C" own interest is in anal"zing the narrative's em#edded te2t on racial integration rather than in defining an" particular character's understanding of race or nation $n other words% $ #elieve that the implied reader of Walker's te2t is provided a political vantagepoint wider than that of an" particular character in the novel% including its primar" narrator% Celie 4 5ates has anal"zed the e2tent to which The Color Purple signifies upon Nora Neale =urston's Their )yes "ere "atchin# (od *'i#nifyin# -7D-93.0 Aac'ueline 1o#o concludes that arguments in the pu#lic media focus on two values that sometimes seem in conflict& the need for positive images of #lack people in the media and the recognition of 0the authorit" of #lack women writers to set the agenda for imagemaking in fiction and film0 *778. is represented throughout The Color Purple as love that looks #e"ond differences in how people 0look or act 0 As Celie tells Shug when the singer prepares to leave her% 0$'m a woman $ love "ou Whatever happen% whatever "ou do $ love "ou0 *--+. 6or a theoretical alternative to @edipal theories of maturation% see Chodorow . 1oth critics detect an opposition or separation of discourses in the te2t% #ut their anal"ses differ in important wa"s While s"mpathetic to 1utler-(vans's method of anal"zing the 0politics of narration0 *+:. 8 hooks also o#jects specificall" to Walker's linking of the slave narrative form to that of the sentimental novel% an association that she #elieves 0strips the slave narrative of its revolutionar" ideological intent and content0 #" linking it to 0(urocentral #ourgeois literar" traditions0 *0Writing0 849. 9 Mnlike 5eorge Stade and #ell hooks% Lauren 1erlant and (lliott 1utler-(vans seek not to criticize Walker's handling of the epistolar" form #ut to uncover one effect that the" #elieve follows from her chosen approach 1utler-(vans #elieves that the 0restriction of focus to Celie's consciousness ena#les the novel to erase the pu#lic histor" and permits Celie to tell her own stor"0 *+44-4:. 7 1" placing m" first reference to race in 'uotation marks $ am following the practice of 5ates and others in !ace. See also Sekora's discussion of the genre of the slave narrative as a 0mi2ed form0 that s"ncretizes several literar" traditions While disagreeing with hooks a#out the genre of slave narratives in general and with her assessment of Walker's use of that tradition in particular% $ want to acknowledge m" de#t to her work elsewhere on plantation famil" structures *as discussed in n+8% #elow. Mntil recentl" Aaco#s's auto#iographical narrative was thought to be a sentimental novel Aean 6agan Jellin details the te2tual histor" of the narrative in her edition of %ncidents.

4 *+DD+.4-+9 1ell% 1ernard The *fro-*merican . /ather than #eing ignored% white people actuall" function in the latter half of the novel to underscore the presence of race and class hegemon" in domestic space and to pro#lematize the famil" ideal for racial integration +C" discussion of the #lack mamm" #uilds upon the work of =azel Car#"% 1ar#ara Christian% !rudier =arris% and #ell hooks * *in+t % a "oman. $n an" case% the American $ndians' treatment of Shug's son underscores their own understanding of the colonial function of missionaries 1" calling Shug's son the 0#lack white man%0 the American $ndians also complicate racial definitions of kinship #" suggesting that the definition of race itself is ultimatel" located in social hegemon" 3 #or.While the #o"'s close pro2imit" in age to Adam and @livia accounts for some of his demeanor% his #ehavior raises issues of race and class nevertheless D Note that Nettie's use of fair"-tale rhetoric to parod" )oris undercuts the gender issues availa#le in the white woman's narration and emphasizes instead issues of race and class +.& ++.D. Amherst& M of Cassachusetts I% +D3: 1erlant% Lauren 0/ace% 5ender% and Nation in The Color Purple.ovel and %ts Tradition.&* +.% and 1erlant's discussion of the rape as 0the diacritical mark that organizes S'ueak's insertion into the 'womanist' order0 *388.0 Critical %n/uiry +8 *+D33.% all of whom have written on literar" representations of the African American woman in the plantation household +7 6or other anal"ses of S'ueak's rape% see Christine 6roula's reading of S'ueak's 0self-naming0 in light of the se2ual violence in the novel *47D.& 37+-9D .s *ited A##andonato% Linda 0A <iew from (lsewhere& Su#versive Se2ualit" and the /ewriting of the =eroine's Stor" in The Color Purple. According to 1erlant% Celie never understands the economic or class issues implied #" her famil" histor" +: !he conclusion also suggests that feelings of kinship can transcend gender differences% even when these differences include prior wrongs as great as Al#ert's a#use of Celie !he novel resolves tensions #etween the se2es--#ut not those #etween the races--optimisticall"% with partners% hus#ands% wives% and estates well sorted out #" the novel's end +3 Shug's son ma" work for the same organization as Nettie% since we learn earl" on that the 0American and African Cissionar" Societ"0 has also 0ministered to the $ndians out west0 *+. +9 Note that Celie's pointed 'uestion to Sophia a#out Ciss (leanor Aane's #a#" demonstrates her own understanding of the race issues involved in Sophia's relationship with the white #a#" +4 See 1erlant's reading of Celie's famil" histor"% which argues that Celie's 0fair"-tale rhetoric emphasizes the personal over the institutional or political components of social relations0 such that 0the non#iologized a#straction of class relations virtuall" disappears from the te2t0 *38+-8-.0 P.D. Linda A##andonato and others have pointed to Levi-Strauss's interpretation of the e2change of women as a 0s"stem of #onding men0 *++. Similarl"% historian 5erda Lemer argues in The Creation of Patriarchy that the control of kinship--and especiall" of women's se2ual and reproductive powers--leads to the historical development of patriarchal political structures% as power moves from the home and into law $ronicall"% )oris leaves (ngland to avoid #ecoming a wife% onl" to #ecome an honorar" hus#and in Africa )oris's mone" has ena#led her to escape #ecoming an o#ject of e2change #ut not to escape the patriarchal s"stem of e2change itself% which is seen to reach across continents ++ !hus% in an article on 0alienation and integration%0 6rank Shelton anal"zes four kinds of alienation and integration in the novel--#ut not racial alienation or integration% pro#a#l" #ecause he #elieves that one component of such an anal"sis is largel" missing from the te2t& 0White people%0 he asserts% are 0called a miracle of affliction0 and then are 0virtuall" ignored0 *73-.+. +8 $n doing so% Walker's novel joins the longstanding feminist criti'ue of separate-spheres ideolog" as a false division used for power's self-maintenance See 5a"atri Chakravort" Spivak's comment that 0the deconstruction of the opposition #etween the private and pu#lic0 is 0implicit in all feminist activit"0 *-.

0 Callaloo +*+D3D. New Jork& @2ford MI% +D33 =arris% Susan K 24th-Century *merican "omen+s . New Jork& Cam#ridge MI% +DD.ovels0 %nterpretive 'trate#ies.& -48-:. and *lice "alker. and $esire0 . .& 73--DSpivak% 5a"atri Chakravort" 0(2planation and Culture& Carginalia 0 Humanities and 'ociety *+D:8. Westport& 5reenwood% +D3.ovelist. 6roula% Christine% 0!he )aughter's Seduction& Se2ual <iolence and 6eminist !heor" 0 'i#ns *+D34.*+D39.0 C&* 8ournal -3 *+D39. New Jork& @2ford MI% +D3: Chodorow% Nanc" The !eproduction of . !ate% Claudia $omestic *lle#ories of Political $esire0 The 1lack Heroine+s Text at the Tum of the Century. Ihiladelphia& !emple MI% +D3D Car#"% =azel !econstructin# "omanhood0 The )mer#ence of the *fro-*merican "oman . "ritin#. (d Aean 6agan Jellin Cam#ridge& =arvard MI% +D3: Lemer% 5erda The Creation of Patriarchy.ovelists0 The $evelopment of a Tradition. Toni . 898-:. Told by Herself.otherin#0 Psychoanalysis and The 'ociolo#y of (ender. New Jork& @2ford MI% +DD!ompkins% Aane 'ensational $esi#ns0 The Cultural "ork of *merican Fiction. Aaco#s% =arriet %ncidents in the &ife of a 'lave (irl.& -. .1o#o% Aac'ueline 0Sifting through the Controvers"& /eading The Color Purple. New Jork& @2ford MI% +D34 Light% Alison 0!he 6ear of the =app" (nding 0 Plottin# Chan#e. (d Linda Anderson London& (dward Arnold% +DD7 39-D4 Sekora% Aohn 0$s the Slave Narrative a Species of Auto#iograph"B0 'tudies in *utobio#raphy. =arris% !rudier From .+--+ Stade% 5eorge 0Womanist 6iction and Cale Characters 0 Partisan !eview 9. New Jork& @2ford MI% +D39 Walker% Alice The Color Purple.onkey0 * Theory of *frican-*merican &iterary Criticism.& 4-+-88 5ates% =enr" Louis% Ar % ed !ace.0 in *frican *merican !eview -D% no + *spring +DD9. 2345-2467.orrison.& 77--81utler-(vans% (lliott !ace.0Writing the Su#ject& /eading The Color Purple. (d =enr" Louis 5ates% Ar New Jork& Ceridian% +DD.ammies to .The 'i#nifyin# . New Jork& =arcourt% +D3*Source& Linda Selzer% 0/ace and )omesticit" in The Color Purple. and $ifference. Ihiladelphia& !emple MI% +D3hooks% #ell *in+t % a "oman0 1lack "omen and Feminism. (ender.ilitants0 $omestics in 1lack *merican &iterature. Chicago& M of Chicago I% +D34 -----. 1oston& South (nd% +D3+ -----. 1erkele"& M of California I% +D:3 Christian% 1ar#ara 1lack "omen . !eadin# Feminist.0 !eadin# 1lack.arrative 'trate#ies in the Fiction of Toni Cade 1ambara. (d Aames @lne" New Jork& @2ford MI% +D33 DD-+++ Shelton% 6rank W 0Alienation and $ntegration in Alice Walker's The Color Purple.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful