African American prose significantly expanded and enriched the approach indicated in the new black literature of the 1960s.
Alice Walker is a famous feminist writer and novelist. The womanist theory by Alice Walker became one of the theories that had emerged within the feminist movement. Shukla Shilpa relates that women should struggle everyday against various issues of discrimination, for example gender, color, violence, illiteracy, insecurity, and lack of equal opportunities. This list is quite long and bleak (Shukla 728).
Alice Walker considers herself as a female writer, who has been associated with the feminist movement for many years, representing black women in it. Black feminism states that class oppression, sexism, and racism are inextricably linked. Shukla Shilpa points out that the main struggle of African American women has been to seek for a definition of themselves (Shukla 725). Black women suffered much more than whites, just because of racial inequality.
All the life and artistic heritage of Alice Walker are closely intertwined by strong ties. Every moment of the writer’s life, as well as every idea for which she struggled, is reflected in her novels and poetry. B?lent Cercis Tanritanir considers it obvious that genders decide the position of people all over the world (437). Alice Walker dedicated all her life to argue this statement.
The feminist organization “The Combahee River Collective”, which was created in 1974, proclaims that the freedom of African American women causes freedom for all people because it indicates the end of class oppression, sexism, and racism. Alice Walker and supporters of her theory note that black women experience depression and other forms of inequality even more intensely than white women.
As well as Toni Cade Bambara and Toni Morrison, Alice Walker uses lyrical realism in order to convey the dreams and failures of trustworthy people. In her works, the author highlights the struggle for human dignity. Being a great stylist, as it is especially evident in the novel The Color Purple, Walker tends to enlightenment in the pieces of writing. It should be noted that Alice Walker’s legacy has many similarities with the famous American novelist Ishmael Reed, who draws attention to the social and racial problems in quite satirical works.
As a result of the accident, Walker became blind in one eye, which, she said, had a great influence on her. Growing older, she began to consider her injury as a patriarchal wound, drawing parallels with the physical and psychological pressure that women had to endure. Alice Walker is very intelligent. She received a scholarship in order to continue her studies at Spelman College in Atlanta, where she became an activist fighting for civil rights. In 1963, Walker transferred to Sarah Lawrence College in New York. There, she got acquainted with Muriel Rukeyser, who was known for political activity.
Alice Walker debuted in 1968 with the poetic collection Once. In 1970, she wrote The Third Life of Grange Copeland that is a chronicle of three generations of the family, which was forcibly torn. In 1973, she published the second collection of poetry Revolutionary Petunias and Other Poems as well as the first collection of short stories In Love and Trouble: Stories of Black Women.
In 1976, Walker published her second novel Meridian, which tells about the black woman who grows up in the years of the civil rights struggle. It should be noted that this book is often quoted as the best novel about the civil rights movement; it is analyzed by some training programs not only on the history of literature, but also on the history of the United States. What is more, the book clearly reflects Walker’s feminist views. After that, the poetry collection Goodnight, Willie Lee, I’ll See You in the Morning, 1979 and the second book of short stories You Can’t Keep a Good Woman Down, 1981 were published.
The Walker’s third novel The Color Purple, 1982 consolidated her literary reputation. The book was awarded the 1983 Pulitzer Prize and the American Book Award. Walker’s novel The Color Purple is a story about love between two black sisters that lasted unabated despite the long-term separation. This novel is considered to be an idea of the preservation of African American culture, and its female characters act as an important link that support continuity in personal relationships and relationships within the community. The personages are characterized by the manifestation of strength, endurance, and ingenuity in confronting and overcoming oppression that were so usual for their lives under the influence of racism and sexism. In the novel, Walker creates carefully prescribed images that are universal to many cultures. Her work emphasizes the struggle for human dignity. Analyzing this novel, Patricia Abrams confesses that the book is beautifully written, rich in humanity and humor, sorrow and irony, and laced with brilliantly conceived characters. Alice Walker explores themes, many of which germinate in her earlier short stories and poetry that illuminate the human condition: loss of innocence, search for faith, the nature of human suffering, and the triumph of the human spirit (Abrams 28). It should be noted that almost all the themes and motives are taken from her life, full of struggle and controversies.
Analyzing social details in her novels, Walker committed to enlightenment, raising the questions which humanity should decide in order to survive. She dreamed about peace and equality and always tried to implement these dreams into her works.
In the novel The Color Purple, men are portrayed as if they basically do not understand the needs of women. Walker’s novels tell about the women’s struggle for the right to identity and recognition. In a world where power belongs to men, violence takes many forms. Taking into account her feminist views, the main idea of Walker’s legacy is that women should speak out against the unjust attitude toward them and fight for their rights, helping each other.
Alice Walker dedicated all her life to the struggle against violence. Indeed, the author wants to state that the wage in any way does not stop but rather begets violence; it is a vicious circle. Thus, a woman does not acquire long-awaited freedom, but vice versa, as a result of violence, she is enclosed in more narrow confines.
Speaking about the social ideas that are reflected in her works, one can mention that Walker creates the images of mothers in the pages of her works quite uniquely. On the one hand, the figure of the mother appears as a guardian of cultural traditions. On the other hand, it is a gender stereotype and patriarchal attitude. However, Rebecca, Walker’s daughter, believes that her mother is just a selfish woman who refuses to fulfill her maternal duties; unfortunately, they do not support each other.
In conclusion, it should be noted that Alice Walker considers salvation and preservation of the unity of all people, both men and women, as a crucial issue. The author wrote different works, including poetry, novels, short stories, and essays, in which she raised the questions of the spiritual rebirth of the nation and the status of women in society. Walker participated in the movement for civil rights, supported the rights of animals, and took part in anti-nuclear speeches. She considered all these things extremely necessary for the salvation of the planet and all the people living on it. It should be said that all these activities greatly affected her works. Being a feminist, Walker disputes the need for motherhood. Paying tribute to her African American roots, she recognizes the importance and value to preserve the history, traditions, and culture of the people and the links between different generations.