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AliceWalker is undeniably one of the most prolific feminists of thecontemporary epoch. As a black American, Walker grew up witnessingthe atrocities of racism being perpetuated by the white Americans tothe blacks. In most of her interviews, Walker recounts painfully thather mother worked eleven hours a day in the white plantation for mere17 dollars a week (Winchell52).Duringthis time, most of the black children worked in the white man`splantations rather than go to school. The whites believed that blackchildren were failures, and, therefore, there was no need to educatethem. However, her mother managed to enroll Walker in first grade atthe age of four years. Walker grew up in an oral tradition set upwith her grandfather narrating oral genres to her quite often. Shedeveloped interests in writing at the age of eight where she wrotemost of the experiences that she came across as a black woman. Thispaper focuses on the poems once,torture,and AWoman is not a potted plantas the three literary works by Walker that reveal the connectionbetween her life and her literary oeuvres.
Readersof walker’s literary oeuvres will ascertain that the common threadbinding her different literary genres is her ability to knead thepersonal to the political as well as the unique in universal.Evidently, most of his characters in her artistic work point to abroader issue regarding the position of the woman in the society. Herblack characters for instance are metonymic of what many black womenundergo in their patriarchal societies as well as their foreignstates. Walker brings out the female characters in her literary workas beings striving to seek and establish confidence and identity intheir endeavors. Ostensibly, Walker uses her characters asautobiographical channels to depict her personal experiences as ablack woman in South America. Arguably, Walker strives to sacrificeher characters by creating varied stereotypes in a bid to fulfill awomanist agenda. She uses reductionism as a major style in herliterary arts. Reductionism encompasses the reduction of malecharacters into naive and inferior beings compared to their femalecounterparts. She creates believable and outstanding heroines freefrom flaws. Thus, Walker presents the struggle of the black woman asa recurring theme in her artistic. He portrays patriarchy as anexploitative menace that has denied women opportunities to create abetter world. Walker focuses more on the internal struggles of theblack women who are facing both racism and patriarchy from theirnative societies.
Awoman is not a potted plant
Inher poem, awoman is not a potted plant,walker elucidates how women should not be destined to sojourn in oneplace without advancing. Walker posits her intention in the poem byoutlining factors such as race, nationality, gender and family assome of the hindrances to the success of women. In this poem, Walkeruses plants to symbolize the different types of women who have overthe years been defined by their race, gender and other stereotypes.In her poem walker asserts that many societies view women ascreatures who are supposed to grow against walls. This implies thatthe society thinks that women should depend on their husbands andfamily rather than being independent. This has been a stereotype thathas continually denied women the opportunity to grow and make abetter life. However, in the last two stanzas, Walker highlights thatthere is more hope for womenfolk to discover their potential andemancipate themselves from the pangs of male superiority. In thefourth stanza first line, she says, "…a woman is wildernessunbounded holding the future between each breath…” here, Walkerimplies that a woman should be free and not confined to anybody. In away, Walker depicts that the woman needs to rise, speak and raise hisvoice to condemn the social stereotypes that have over the yearsprevented her from achieving her goals and success in life. Theoverall impression of the poem is walker’s depiction on how a womanis viewed and perceived by the society. Many societies view the womanas an object for sex and giving birth. However, Walker tries toenlighten the women by telling them they are not tied to theirhusbands and houses.
Itis evident that the poem is a reflection of walker’s childhoodexperiences. Despite the place of the black woman, her mother refusedto cling to the inferior portrayal of women. She overcame this byworking hard despite the little earnings in order to earn a living.Moreover, walker’s mother fought against racism and sent Walker toschool despite the unfavorable conditions at the time. The poem canthus be viewed as walker’s coming to the realization that she needsto speak for women in both art and political arena.
Asa narrative poem, Tortureis a masterpiece that illustrates the internal struggles and theemotional growth of the womenfolk. Through the poem, the persona canspeak his voices in his unique language. The poem encompasses therevelation of the events that black people experience under the pangsof the white people. Born in a state that views black race asinferior and primitive, the poem reflects in a fictional, way thepredicaments that Alice Walker experienced. Evidently, Walker wasborn at a time when racist ideologies were at their apogee with theblacks being depicted as lesser human beings (Bloom34).In her poem Torture,Walker attempts to give hope to the blacks by imparting them withconfidence that a day shall come when people will be judged by thecontent of their character and not by their skin color. Moreover thispoem is ostensibly, an elucidation of walker’s torture andexploitation that she experienced in her marriage. Evidently, Walkerdivorced with Melvyn Leventhal after they had one child. Sourcescontend that her husband constantly abused her both physically andsexually, resulting in their divorce. Walker is thus a victim oftorture and abuse in her marriage. She experienced what most blackwomen undergo in their family relationships. Walker offers an insightto the women that it is the time to rise and walk out of a torturousrelationship. Tree in the poem torture symbolizes a brighter future.
Evidently,there are many advantages that blossom from trees including fruitsand herbs. In this case, by repeating the phrase plant a tree in allthe stanzas, Walker intensifies the fact that there is still hope atthe end of the day despite the destitute situation that one may beundergoing. The intended audience in the poem is women and blackAmericas both male and females. It is evident that Walker`s life wascharacterized by exploitation and torture by the white man. As aresult, Walker outlines that irrespective of the challenges andpredicaments one should work tirelessly with immense hope andoptimism that everything shall be better.
Thepoem Onceunfolds with the protagonist in a southern jail. The poem is areflection of the activities of civil rights movements in the 1960’s(Lauret67).Thepersona appears to be carrying a banner while running around thestreets of Atlanta. At the same time, the poem informs the readerthat numerous arrests are being made in Atlanta city. In her poemonce,Walker illustrates that there is a nigger in the company of whitefolks who police officers police are running after. The poem,therefore, illustrates the predicaments of the black Americans underthe white society.
Inher poem, she discusses prevalent social upheavals such as rape,abortion, teenage pregnancy, illicit sexual escapades as well assuicide. Some of the instances in Walker’s poem are a reflection ofWalker’s personal life. For instance, the poem narrates aboutWalker’s unwanted pregnancy as a senior student in college. Thepregnancy was the most sorrowful and regretful moment of her life.Since she could not withstand the guilt of an unwanted pregnancyWalker was forced to have an abortion. The poem is, therefore, areflection of her life as well as the atrocities that are prevalentin the society.
Inconclusion, it should be noted that unlike radical feminists, Walkeris a womanist activist who advocates for equality and respect formen, women, and children. Additionally, Alice Walker uses herliterary work to appreciate and at the same condemn with bitterindictment social upheavals such as gender that instigate inequalitybetween people.
Bloom,Harold. AliceWalker.New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 2010. Print.
Lauret,Maria. AliceWalker.New York: St. Martin`s Press, 2011. Print.
Winchell,Donna Haisty. AliceWalker.New York: Twayne Publishers, 2012. Print.