Gender Representation in Alice Walker’s Selected Novels

By Wan Roselezam Wan Yahya, Maryam Aminian and Emily Abd Rahman.

Published by The Humanities Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This study investigates Alice Walker’s fictions by focusing on gender representation portrayed in her three novels The Color Purple, The Third Life of Grange Copeland and Possessing the Secret of Joy to find out whether gender is culturally or physically centered; whether gender establishers such as tradition and racism contribute towards gender differentiation; and whether gender is a rigid belief with stable or changeable nature. The projection of Walker’s characters reveals that gender is psychologically and culturally determined rather than physically. It varies from one ethnic or race to another. Gender is found to be a form of rigid belief of unstable nature which causes women’s identities to be reconstructed in an oppressive manner. The practice of genital mutilation by the Olinkan tradition seeks to enforce gender differentiation through drawing distinctive lines between genders and defines them in their own terms rejecting the biological nature of gender construction. Overexploited, inhumanely treated, and dispossessed from their lands by the white masters, Black men such as Mr_, Grange, and Brownfield exercise power and redefine themselves by reduplicating the same oppression on their women and create imaginary illusory identities for themselves. Black women such as Celie, Squeak, Mem and Tashi are rendered as helpless and emaciated through their husband’s atrocities. These suppressed, silent, and dependent women are the ideal characteristics dictated by the tradition, where as, transgressive women are labeled as a whore like Josie and Shug or crazy like Sofia. These ideal images absorbed as a result of Celie’s and Squeak’s ignorance; Mem’s excessive affection and sympathy; and Tashi’s blind honor to her tribe are all shattered as soon as they recognized their idealized status as nothing but a plot against them.

Keywords: Gender, Feminism, Infibulation, Racism

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp.231-244. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 673.257KB).

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Wan Roselezam Wan Yahya

Senior Lecturer, Department of English, Faculty of Modern Languages and Communication, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia

Wan Roselezam Wan Yahya is a Senior Lecturer in English Literature at the Faculty of Modern Languages and Communication, Universiti Putra Malaysia. She is involved in several researches dealing with literature & culture, psychoanalysis & literature, literature in ESL, and diasporic literature.

Maryam Aminian

Postgraduate Researcher, Department of English , Faculty of Modern Languages and Communication, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia

Maryam Aminian received her B.A and M.A in English Literature from Azad university, Tehran. She is currently a postgraduate researcher at the Faculty of Modern Languages and Communication, Universiti Putra Malaysia pursuing her doctoral studies.

Emily Abd Rahman

University of Auckland, New Zealand

Emily Abd Rahman is a research student in the School of Arts, Languages and Literacies, Faculty of Education, University of Auckland. She is interested in the application of western theories to literary genres such as novels, drama and poetry.

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