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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, &quot…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.



Cognitionin the Vocal Communications of Humans and Nonhuman Primates

Humanbeings rely so much on language so as to communicate effectively.Humans use referential signals through vocal messages and gestures.They are also able to use flexibility to make their vocal soundsattain more effect in communicating. Non-human primates also have aclose relationship with humans and, therefore, share some relevantcharacteristics with them. They also rely on some form ofcommunication so as to pass messages across them (Fedurek &ampSlocombe, 2011, p.156). One evident feature observed among thehumans, and non-human primates are that they use vocal sounds so asto pass around messages. The modalities entailed in the productionare normally quite complex and. The verbal communications later ontranslate into gestural, written and verbal forms. The cognitivecapacities involved in the processing of language are normally quiteolder compared to the language. The aspect of vocalization among theprimates is quite important among the primates as they are wellsuited biologically, socially and physically. This is because most ofthe primates live in environments that are characterized by lowvisibility and thereby need a means of making sounds so as to passsome messages to some of their members.

Referentialityrefers to the ability of a gesture to have a distinct meaning. Humansuse referential signals in various ways (Fedurek &amp Slocombe,2011, p.156). One of them is through the application of semantics.Semantics is simply the study of what a word means. They are quiteimportant as they help to provide meaning to the words spoken duringcommunications. Semantics also provide room for referentiality asthrough them they provide a reference to events in the world as wellas external objects. One instance of referentiality is when anindividual puts a finger on his lips so as to signal another personto maintain silence. Flexibility is the ability to adjust the messageor how you convey the message so as to ensure that the informationgiven out achieves the same measure of effect that the sender isintended. Flexibility can help to put a control on vocal signalsabout social situations. This happens because the audience has a hugedetermination on how one needs to communicate with them (Fedurek &ampSlocombe, 2011, 162). For instance, it may require one to put a put atonal variation the message that he is conveying so as o make theaudience quite interested in what he is talking about. The kind ofmessage conveyed is also an important factor. Some require one to puta low tone while others need one to incorporate a high tone so as tomake them more relevant. The aspect of flexibility also makes thesender of the message quite accepted within the circle of therecipient, especially when they have faith that he is attempting toreach to them in a way that they are well conversant with. One goodexample where flexibility is applicable is cases where a sender of amessage speaks in a low tone when conveying a sad message. Humans arealso able to send messages to an element of intentionality.Intentionality refers to the situation where an individual makes adeliberate action continue sending a certain message until it reachesthe intended recipient. Human beings are good at this because theyhave much higher levels of intelligence and may persist in giving acertain gesture if they feel that the intended recipient has not seenit yet. The element of intentionality helps to strengthen the kind ofmessage that is relayed and makes it very efficient as it has a highpotential for reaching the desired recipient (Fedurek &amp Slocombe(2011, 161). One instance where intentionality is achieved is wherean individual continuously waves at someone that he knows until theperson picks the clue then waves back.

Non-humanprimates also show a cue of referentiality. For instance, vervetmonkeys produce alarm calls so as to warn others when they face anelement of danger. They produced these sounds when they mostlyencounter predators such as snakes, eagles, and leopards. The callerunderstands the listeners of the message very well and aims to sendthe message in such a way that they will clearly understand what heaims to convey. The sender, in our instance, the Vervet Monkey givesout a clear message in the form of an alarm when it notices a givenform of danger. The listeners, on the other hand, pay enoughattention to make sure that what they have heard is real (Cheney &ampSeyfarth,1985, p.151). They will, therefore, listen intently to hearthe second alarm from the sender of the message. This alarm will bequite intentional and will help to conform to the listeners thatthere is an actual danger, and they need to seek safe places to hidein, which they will do instantly. One experimental study was carriedout in Amboseli National Park, Kenya. Data concerning three adjacentgroups of monkeys in the park was gathered. These groups wereobserved continuously since the year 1977. These monkeys were knownto be genetically related in one way or another. The data collectedrelated to how the monkeys gave out frequencies of alarms. Thiscollection of date is on an ad libitum basis. Ad libitum is asituation whereby the researchers collected the data according totheir pleasure. The study fourteen months. In a typical observation,either two or three observers had a moment with each of the threegroups (Cheney &amp Seyfarth, 1985, p.153). All the groups wereobserved equally throughout the month. The observers found out thatfemale monkeys remained in their natal groups throughout their liveswhile male vervet monkeys moved to other groups once they attainedsexual maturity. The results showed that the vervets give outdistinct acoustic noises when they face with certain forms of dangersuch as eagles. The vervet gives out an alarm signal that receivesdifferent escape responses from its mates. The explaination of theresults is in such a way that high-ranking female vervets were highlylikely to alert other groups when there is a danger as compared tolow ranking female vervets.

Non-humanprimates also show an element of flexibility to their verbal cues.Although they are not able to generate or develop distinct sounds,non-human primates can modify the acoustic form of the alreadyexisting sounds. For instance, baboons can modify some featureswithin their grunts so as to develop different sounds for differentsituations that are quite vital to providing a warning in case anyform of danger comes up. Various studies have indicated thatprimates have been able to adjust their sounds as a result of achange in the social circumstances that they face. For instance, in astudy in which different populations of pygmy marmosets that were notfamiliar with each other were placed together (Cheney &amp Seyfarth,1985, p.155). These populations modified their sounds after a givenperiod so as to make them acoustically related. It means that theywere able to understand each others’ sounds an element that wasquite vital if the two groups had to co-exist together. The findingsof the study show that non-human primates rely on vocals to passacross various messages about them. When some of the conditionschange, these animals are highly likely to adjust accordingly so asto remain relevant and avoid any situation where they may land in anyform of danger as a result of misunderstanding any verbal cue relayedby their mates.

Intentionalityalso plays a huge role in the relaying of various forms ofinformation. For instance, great apes give out manual signs that aimto send a certain message to intended audience. Monkeys, however,lack this capability (Fedurek &amp Slocombe, 2011, p.162). Thesegreat apes are also quite sensitive to the repeated forms ofcommunication which are an evidence of intentionality. Researchersattach this situation to the fact that great apes have a moredeveloped brain and are, therefore, more intelligent compared tosmaller apes such as monkeys (Cheney &amp Seyfarth, 1985, p.155).However, some researchers disagree with this school of thought and,therefore, the issue remains debatable and subject to great levels ofcontroversy. Several experiments have shown that chimpanzees have theability to understand the intentions, goals and knowledge. Thestudies also proved that great apes were, however not able tounderstand any form of false belief. The fact that they are not ableto understand this aspect is quite a detrimental issue since it playsan important role in proving that one has great intellectual skills.This shows that the non-human great primates are not in a goodposition to solve the complex situations linked highly to havingbetter cognitive skills. It is also important to note that while mostof the non-human primates have the ability to modify their voices soas to suit the prevailing circumstances, most often than not, thesevoices are normally rigid as well as automatic (Cheney &ampSeyfarth, 1985, 152). It helps to maintain an element of consistencyin the form of messages that the primates aim to convey. The resultsof the experiments conducted help to highlight the importance ofrepetitiveness in striving to convey a given message so as to make itreach the desired audience while still bearing the intended meaning.

Inconclusion, it is quite evident that human beings have moreestablished vocal prowess and well capable of incorporatingflexibility intentionality and referentiality in their conversations(Seyfarth et al.,1980, p.154). Greater primates are also found tohave well-established verbal cues as compared to the smaller ones.The primates are also seen to adapt to the changing habitatcircumstances in a bid to continue surviving within such areas,especially in the case of any dangers. It would be quite useful toconduct future research on the extent of vocal flexibility about thesize of the non-human primates. The findings of such a research willhelp to show how different sizes of the primates adjust so as tocontinue surviving amidst all odds.


Cheney&amp Seyfarth (1985). Vervetmonkey alarm calls: Manipulation through shared information? P.151, 153

Fedurek&amp Slocombe (2011)Primate vocal communication: Auseful tool for understanding human speech and language evolution.pp. 156, 161, 162

Seyfarthet al. (1980). Evidence of predator classification and semanticcommunication: Monkeyresponses to three different alarm calls.— in Course Packet` p. 155.



CivilMilitary Issues

Accordingto (Oppenheim 5), war is the military engagement between forces oftwo or more states that aim at overpowering each other and eventuallyimpose conditions of peace that the victor deems fit. Notably, warcomes into existence legally through ways such as by declaration ofone state against another state or a group. Moreover, war may comeinto existence when a state proclaims to be in a state of war withanother state or a group. Furthermore, a state of war occurs when astate develops hostility against another state. However, during thetime of war, there are rules and regulations that govern the militaryactions during the wartime. The international humanitarian lawrestricts the states or groups that engage in wars and armedconflicts. For instance, the international humanitarian law prohibitsstates from arming civilians in the course of their armed conflicts.

Inresponse to aggression by terrorist groups, the United States didestablish legal frameworks to guide the military and the governmentin apprehending the armed combatants who continue to threaten thelives of the Americans. However, it is the undoubted truth thatapprehending the perceived combatants by the United States governmentfollows the due process of the law and respects the dignity of humanrights. Moreover, the United States federal government would use theplurality law to charge and detain the war combatants that threatenedthe lives of the Americans. However, such federal government`s warpowers would be applicable before September the 11th terrorist 2001attack on the American soil. Although the plurality law fails tocapture the basic guidelines and structures of the national security,it was applied to detain Yaser Esam Hamdi, a war combatant capturedin Afghanistan. The Supreme Court held that it was lawful to detainHamdi even without the congressional approval because he was a threatto national security of the United States (Tanenhaus 54).

Relyingon Ex Parte Milligan assertion, the supreme court of the UnitedStates in 2004, rejected Hamdi`s argument that the Geneva Conventionprohibits (18 U.S.C) prohibits the United States government fromdetaining any war suspect except with the approval of the Congress.In the ruling, the court did express doubt with Hamdi`s argument thatthe Geneva Conventions did not authorize detention of personsperceived as combatants. Moreover, the Ex Parte Milligan did providethe military with powers to detain enemy combatants captured duringwarfare. For instance, the law provided that capturing and detainingwar combatants captured with the war theater. Additionally, thesupreme court did find that congressional authorization of themilitary to detain war combatants was part of the post-September 11provisions that allowed the use of military force 316 F .3d.Consequently, the provisions of the Ex parte Milligan make it clearthat capturing and detaining the war combatants because that is partof the warfare. In a nutshell, the Supreme Court upheld the role ofthe president in detaining the people captured by the American troopsduring the war. However, in such detentions, the person detainedshould pose a threat to national security as happened in the case ofHamdiV Rumsfeld.Therefore, the plurality law did make it lawful for the government todetain the war combatants without trial. However, the law isapplicable for the combatants who are citizens of the United Statesand those detained within the territorial boundaries of the UnitedStates.

Followingthe September 11th, 2001 terrorist attack in the United States, theUnited States government sent troops to fight Al-Qaeda and Taliban inIraq and Afghanistan. The war combatants captured during the warwould be detained in Guantanamo Bay in Cub. Consequently, thedetainees would file a case of Rasulv Bush 2004challenging the United States courts to allow them access to legalproceedings. However, in the ruling, the District Court of Columbiawould dismiss the case even after referring them as habeas petitions.Besides, the court argued that detainees who are not citizens of theUnited States and those that are detained outside the United Statesterritory should not invoke habeas relief from the judicial system ofthe United States (Tanenhaus 65). Moreover, such detainees areprohibited from undertaking habeas applications during their time incustody at Guantanamo Bay. The JohnsonV Eisentragerserves to deny habeas relief to the citizens of other countries whoare detained by the United States outside the sovereign territory ofthe country.

Moreover,the law applied to rule the case of Rasulv Bushin 2004 makes it clear that the district courts have jurisdictions tohear habeas applications by foreign nationals detained by the UnitedStates. However, the same courts have no authority to grant habeasrelief to the petitioners because the law requires the presence ofthe custodians in the courtroom. Therefore, the law permits themilitary to try and detain war combatants captured during militaryoperations.

Inthe case of Hamdanv Rumselfeld,the district and appeals court upheld the role of militarycommissions to try and convict war combatants. Moreover, the courtsheld that the war combatants were free to seek habeas relief underthe jurisdiction of the United States courts. Additionally, thecourts quashed the role of Geneva Convention by arguing that theconvention did not relate to individual rights but rather a treatybetween nations. Therefore, both the appeals and district courtsaccepted the role of military commissions to try war combatants.However, the Supreme Court did rule in 2006 that it was unlawful forthe president to set war crime tribunals and that the militarycommissions were illegal (David 35). Notably, the ruling appeared toinvalidate the Ex Parte Milligan and the plurality law that gave thepresident powers to detain war combatants.

Tosum up, the Ex Parte Milligan seems to allow the president to detainwar combatants while the ruling on the case of RasulV Bushseems to deny justice to the detainees but the ruling of the case ofHamdanv Rumsefeldupholds the role of Geneva Convention in prohibiting the UnitedStates from detaining war combatants.


DavidSpinoza. Encyclopediaof the Supreme Court Of The United States.Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2010. Print. Oppenheim L.F.L. VolII, quotedin British Manual Of Military Law,2012.

Tanenhaus,David Spinoza. Encyclopediaof the Supreme Court of the United States. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2012. Print.

Tanenhaus,David Spinoza.Encyclopedia of the Supreme Court of the United States.Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2011. Print.