Alice Walker 3 Essay, Research Paper
In life people face various obstacles and must somehow tough their way through them. In literature authors create characters with problems and lives that can be very difficult at times. It is up to the author to decide how the character will turn out in the end. In Alice Walker s works, the female characters often have hard lives, but they always triumph in the end. Walker takes her characters on very harsh paths throughout her stories, but she always finds a way for them to learn, grow, and surmount.
Alice Walker also shows her style in non-fiction pieces based on her life experiences. In Beauty: When the Other Dancer is The Self, she tells the story of her childhood devastation. This consisted of her becoming blinded in one eye while playing cowboys and Indians with her brothers. She began her essay by telling the audience of her incredible childhood before the accident. She shows us that she was happy, energetic, and worry-free. It was great being cute. But the one day, it ended. (Beauty 2) This is when she begins to tell her story, and we see that she does rise above in the end.
Alice and her brothers were playing like they always did. Alice was standing watch on the top of a roof when she felt an incredible pain in her eye. Her brother had shot her. Her parents took her to the doctor a week later. The doctor was very surprised that she had not been in sooner. His reply was: Why did you wait so long to come? Eyes are sympathetic, if one is blind, the other will likely become blind too. (Beauty 2) Walker said that comment terrified her. White scar tissue formed and made her look hideous. She went from a happy, healthy little girl, who always stared at people, to a girl who never looked up. She became very self-conscience, and her schoolmates always picked on her. One boy always called her the one-eyed bitch. This is a great demonstration of a woman having a hard life. She then shows us the way she comes through in the end, mostly due to her daughter and brother.
One day when she was fourteen, her brother Bill took her and got the cataract removed. The tissue was gone, but she was blind forever and a bluish crater still remained. This is where Walker begins to show the audience her triumph. Once the scar tissue is removed she completely transformed. She graduated high school as Valedictorian, the Prom Queen, and most popular girl in her class. But she still had the blue scar to make her feel self-conscious about the way she appeared. As she grew older she had a daughter. Her daughter, Rebecca, was probably the person that gave her the most confidence in her eye, because Alice always looked at it as a flaw. That night, as I do almost every night, I abuse my eye. I rant and rave at it, in front of the mirror. I plead with it to clear up before morning. I tell it I hate and despise it. I do not pray for sight. I pray for beauty. (Beauty 3) This clearly expresses her discontent with her appearance.
One day while watching television with her daughter Rebecca, she looked at her very seriously and said, Mommy, there s a world in your eye She was both shocked and amazed at this comment. But it really did open her eyes. She then realized that she had been looking at her eye in the wrong way. This is expressed in the following:
For the most part, the pain left then Crying and laughing I ran to the bathroom, while Rebecca mumbled and sang herself to sleep. Yes indeed, I realized, looking into the mirror. There was a world in my eye. And I saw that it was possible to love it: that in fact, for all it had taught me of shame and anger and inner vision, I did fatigue, not mention floating back at attention in excitement (bearing witness, a friend has called it), deeply suitable to my personality, and even characteristic of me (Beauty 6).
Walker had finally come to peace with her imperfection. She also realized that it was what made her special. Alice Walker had a childhood that caused her great pain emotionally, but mostly mentally. This story is a great example of a woman s struggle and the way she overcomes it. The following summarizes her triumph perfectly:
That night I dream that I am dancing to Stevie Wonder s song Always (the name of the song is really As, but I hear it as Always ). As I dance, whirling and joyous, happier than I ve ever been in my life, another bright-faced dancer joins me. We dance and kiss each other and hold each other through the night. The other dancer has obviously come through all right, as I have done. She is beautiful, whole and free. And she is also me (Beauty 6-7).
Alice Walker uses fiction pieces as well as nonfiction to portray female characters as having difficult lives. The short story The Almost Year, Walker shares the life of a young black ghetto child. This girl gets the opportunity of a lifetime to go live with a wealthy family, because her grandmother could not support her. The only problem was that they were white. The girl spent from September to June with the family. She was very miserable when she first arrived at her new home. Her hatred of her new surroundings are expressed in the following:
She hates the idea and them. However, her aunt and only means of support leaves her with them while she goes looking for a better job. The Malloys find the girl hostile to preferential treatment, or any other kind. Whatever advances they make toward her are quickly checked (Year 140).
This quote shows her hostility toward the family. She did not want to live with these strange, white people, even though she lived in the slums. The family was very hospitable but she did not fit in their way of life. She would not allow the family to touch her, and she would not talk to them. She was very quiet and withdrawn. In this silence she creates a ghost in her mind, which causes the family many disturbances. She finally comes to grips with herself and faces the ghost. But this would not have been possible without the help of Mrs. Mallory. This is expressed in the following quote:
after much house shaking and dish rattling, the black girl opens the dreaded attic door and confronts a small dark wraith. Herself. And in this fearful journey it is Mrs. Mallory who walks beside her, the girl at last allowing this white woman to touch her, and, more important, to share and face down the fear that had stalked the Mallory household. The warmth generated between them lays the poltergeist to rest, banishes fear (Year 140).
Through this horrifying journey she eliminates her fear of the white Mallory family, and finds the value of friendship. She takes this new value to her home in the slums. This quote clearly illustrates the girl s triumph:
What is the value of one hour s warmth in nine months of coldness? Of nine months in a beautiful house but a lifetime in a slum? What a value has friendship that is content to see one comfortable part of the time? Indeed, is it friendship (Year 141)?
The girl s problems finally turned out positively in the end. She overcame her fear of the Mallory family and learned from it in the process.
What is probably Alice Walker s best example of a woman having a hard life and overcoming it would be the novel The Color Purple. This is a story of a girl and the awful life she lives. Right from the beginning Celie is mistreated by her father who rapes her. He does this to her because her mother is dying and unable to satisfy his needs sexually. So she is in turn abused by him. His brutality and incestuous behavior is illustrated in the following:
He never had a kine word to say to me. Just say You ganna do what your mammy wouldn t. First he put his thing up gainst my hip and sort of wiggle it around. Then he grab hold my titties. Then he push his thing inside my pussy. When that hurt, I cry. He start to choke me, saying you better shut up and git used to it (Purple 3).
She becomes pregnant many times, and her father kills and sells her babies so no one will know what he did to her. He threatens to kill her if the secret is revealed to anyone else. Then later in her life she marries a man twice her age and is forced to tend to his children. She only does this to escape her terrible life with her father, but little did she know she was walking into years of pain and suffering. Her new husband, who Celie refers to as Mr. _____, beats and rapes her as her father did. He also calls her ugly and worthless. Mr.____ expresses his contempt to Celie:
You ugly. You skinny. You shape funny. You too scared to open you mouth to people You not that good a cook either. And this house ain t been clean good since my first wife died. And nobody crazy or backward enough to want to marry you, neither (Purple 175).
This hell she calls her life continues until she befriends a singer, whom Mr.____ is in love with, who helps her find the confidence she needs to escape her life of torture. Shug, the singer, treats Celie as a human being and respects her. Shug and Celie become best friends, and Celie s life begins to look up. She finally leaves her husband, and had the strength to tell him how she has always felt. Celie even learns that two of her children are missionaries in Africa. Her father dies, which she feels no remorse about, but is left with his house and his business. Her father s wife gives Celie the news:
Your stepdaddy been dead over a week, she say. When us want to town to hear the will read yesterday Your real daddy owned the land and the house and the store When your mama died it passed on to you and your sister Nettie (Purple 206)
This is definite evidence of her life becoming positive. At the end of the story, Celie finally meets her children. Her was life finally coming out of the slums. In the end, she makes a great living making pants at her newly inherited store. The novel, The Color Purple, was very successful. It was probably Alice Walker s Best example of a woman s hard life and the way it positively ends.
Human beings often have hard lives. In many of Alice Walker s works, such as Beauty: When the Other Dancer is Thy Self, The Color Purple, and The Almost Year. It is up to the person to decide how their problems will turn out in the end. In literature, the author chooses a path for its characters, and what will happen to them. This path can be positive or negative. Alice Walker chooses to take her female characters on a difficult road, but they almost always triumph in the end. We all experience this path at some point in our lives, and it is the triumph that makes life great.