A PORTRAIT OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN WOMEN IN SOME SELECTED WORKS OF ALICE WALKER AND TONI MORRISON

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ABSTRACT

This work focuses on African-American women in the Black family structure as portrayed by Toni Morrison in her novels; ParadiseSula, The Bluest Eye, and Alice Walker in The ColorPurple, Meridian, and In Love and Trouble: Stories of Black Women. Considering the crucialrole of the family unit in the socialising process, attention has been drawn to the effectiveness of Black Women in making the Black family to function despite the high percentage of Black homes in which the father is absent. The work is an appraisal of how Alice Walker and Toni Morrison celebrate Black women in their works, its main argument being that African-American literary scene had been male centred and driven, the plights of women not adequately addressed by African-American male writers who, in an attempt to speak for African-Americans subsume the women experience in the process. The research work is presented in five chapters. Chapter 1 is titled General Introduction and features a brief historical background of the African Americans in general, and Alice Walker and Toni Morrison in particular, writers understudy, stating clearly the relationships between their background and their works A critical study on African-American written literary tradition is taken, and African-American women literary tradition as a sub-genre is also studied to locate the writers under study. Feminism as a theoretical framework is discussed subsequently, stating its meaning, tenets, importance and relevance to the work. This takes the centre stage of Chapter 2; it is followed by a review of related literature. Chapter 3 is based on Toni Morrison‟s perception of the African American community as reflected in Paradise, Sula, and The Bluest Eye. It is titled “Strands of Feminism in Toni Morrison‟s Paradise, Sula, and The Bluest Eye.” Chapter 4 shares some semblance with Chapter 3, it is titled “Alice Walker‟s Portrait of Women in The Color Purple, In Love and Trouble: Stories of Black Women, and Meridian.” The chapter is an appraisal of a woman’s question as seen by Walker in her community. A summation of the works comes up in Chapter 5 which is titled Conclusion.

CHAPTER ONE:

INTRODUCTION

1.1              Background

In most cultures of the world especially in Africa, women are assumed to be fed, nurtured and groomed solely for marriage, childbearing and other domestic purposes. This is made worse by religious practices, customs, culture and tradition that support and propagate the notion that women are weak and incompetent in comparison to men. Prior to the advent of feminism, the female voice was not given adequate attention: female writers in Victorian England veiled their identity by adopting male pseudonyms for their works to gain relevance. Even women like Lucy Terry and Harriet Jacobs who contributed immensely to the struggle for the abolition of slavery and in various Black movements were ignored due to the fact that the male-dominated and defined literary tradition alienated the Black woman and excluded her from the literary tradition.

A PORTRAIT OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN WOMEN IN SOME SELECTED WORKS OF ALICE WALKER AND TONI MORRISON