& Portrayal Of Women Essay, Research Paper

Female Authors and the Portrayal of Women

In writing, each individual has a unique style; one that they can call their own.

The kind of style and the quality of the story is what separates a good writer from an

extraordinary writer. As part of my research process, I have read a number of books

written by female authors. I chose to research the unique style of writing that each author

uses and the way women are portrayed in these books. The writing styles of these women all

varied and were all interesting to read, however my personal favorite was The Color Purple

written by Alice Walker.

The authors of the books I chose to write about had much in common. For example,

these female authors had some similarities in the way women are portrayed in their books. All

the authors, from Susanna Kaysen to Alice Walker wrote stories that dealt with all different

types of women who came from various backgrounds and situations that were hard to deal

with. Their strength is truly admirable. The women in these stories demonstrated great

strength and courage in the handling of their situations.

As mentioned, my favorite story of the ones I researched was The Color Purple by

Alice Walker. Alice Walker is a very well known, female author of African American decent.

She is the brilliant author of six novels and has received a Pulitzer Prize for The Color Purple.

Other similarities the authors shared amongst one another was the pain and emotion

that was expressed so well in their writing. The choice of words and the language used truly

brings the heartache of these women to life. Women in these novels were mistreated and were

put into a place in their lives where they no longer felt the strength to continue or move on

from where they are. My research is based on how the strength of these women progress

throughout the novels.

Alice Walker s writing style in The Color Purple is truly unique. The story is told

through a series of letters that the main character, Celie, writes to God. There are also letters

from a certain other character, Nettie, scattered throughout the book. Through these letters,

Walker allows the reader to feel the pain and emotion that the characters are expressing. She

shows what life is like for an average, poor, black girl growing up with an abusive father and

later on having to go through a rough life. It starts out with a young, black girl, Celie, who is

abused by her father when she is young. And because of the fact that she has no mother, she

feels that it is her job to protect her younger sister, Nettie, from also being abused by their

father. When Celie grows up and marries a man named Albert (who is only identified as Mr.

_______), she continues to be abused by him. As years go by, Celie mindlessly works harder and harder for her husband. One day she finally decides that it would be best for her if she left

Albert. She builds up her courage and finally tells him that she is leaving him. This seems to be

a very difficult time for Celie, but she manages to make it through. He does not allow her to

leave and orders her to stay, but she leaves him anyway. After years have gone by allowing

Celie to forget her past, she decides to go back to her old home. She pays a visit to Albert,

Harpo and Sofia (her step-daughter). She finds that both Albert and Harpo have changed

drastically. However, to her surprise, their changes were for the better. Albert no longer has

the attitude he had when she left him. He works hard to make money, raise the children and

keep the house clean with food on the table. He even tells her that he realizes what a fool he

was for letter her leave and for treating her the way he did. Celie seems to be the cause for the

change in Albert s life. If she had never left him, he would have never realized what a great

thing he had and what she did for him.

Through this story, Alice Walker demonstrates the strength that Celie held within her

to endure the most harsh situations. She shows how one woman had to deal with abuse

everyday of her life and had no control over it. Finally, after years of suffering one person

comes along and makes her realize that she really did have control over her life and that she

had it in her to change the way she was living.

Alice Walker specializes in the type of writing that portrays women as strong, hard-

working individuals that make a great effort to relieve themselves from their difficult lives.

The Color Purple is written as an epistolary novel. This means that the story is told through

letters. These letters show the different voices and personalities of each individual character.

Susanna Kaysen s Girl , Interrupted is told from the writers own perspective. It is read more like a diary of her personal thoughts rather than a story or biography. It fluctuates between her own voice and the voice of her fellow patients. She comments on her view of her life and the things she must deal with everyday. In this book, Susanna Kaysen is placed into a psychiatric hospital where everyone is believed to be crazy. In the beginning, she argues about the reasons why she has been placed in a hospital and the reasons why she should be released. She convinces the reader that she does not have a mental disability and is perfectly normal. As the days go on, she becomes more and more like the other patients in the hospital and learns that she might actually have something wrong with her. Though she realizes this fact, she is still not able to accept it. Everyday is a struggle for Susanna; she spends every free second trying to find a way out trying to set herself free. It seems as though she feels trapped and helpless, yet she still has a slight sense of hope and determination that will help her to make it through her life. I didn t like her [her social worker] because she did not

understand that this was ME and I was going to be a writer; I was not going to type term bills

or sell au gratin bowls or do any other stupid things (Kaysen 133).This whole story is about

Susanna trying to prove to herself and to everyone else that she has the determination to

make her way out of the hospital, not by escape, but by proving that her mental capabilities

are strong. You need the means, the opportunity and the motive (Kaysen 36). In the end,

she is released from the hospital. Throughout this book, the characteristics of her personality

change tremendously. Was this the secret of life? Running away was the secret of

life? Suicide is a form of murder premeditated murder. It isn t something you do the first

time you think of it. It takes getting used to (Kaysen 26). She is placed in a terrible situation

where she knows that she does not belong and she makes it her goal to find a way out. She manages to build up her determination and strength and proves herself worthy of the

outside world.

Mama s Girl, by Veronica Chambers is another example of a story about great

perseverance and strength. The main character is Veronica Chambers herself. She tells about

growing up in Brooklyn, New York in the seventies. She has to deal with being a black girl in a

struggling, abusive relationship with her father, step -mother, and step father, all while living

in poverty. The language that Chambers uses in this book makes it easier for the reader to

understand what she is going through. She writes the language as they actually speak it. Her

emotions show through the lines of this novel and allow the reader to truly feel what she has

to go through. In this book, Veronica tells us about her painful struggles in life and how she

overcomes them in the end. She loses her relationship with her father and stepfather, but still

maintains a relationship with her mother. Though it is hard for her to do, Veronica swallows

her pride and manages to forgive her mother. She realizes that the love she has for her mother

should be unconditional. Not only does she demonstrate the ability to forgive, but also learns

a great lesson of unconditional love in the process.

Circle of Friends by Maeve Binchy is about two girls of Irish decent who become good

friends. The two girls are Benny Hogan and Eve Malone. In real life, even the best of friends

often deal with disputes about their families. Despite their close friendship, they still have to

deal with the fact that they come from completely different families. They meet up with

obstacles in their lives that they can only overcome together. For example, when they meet Jack Fohley and Nan Mahlon, they also meet the problems of heartbreak and betrayal. By

working together, the two girls overcome their obstacles when their friendship and love for

each other is tested.

Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver is written about two girls, Codi and Halimeda

Noline. The two girls are sisters. Codi is the older sister, who feels that she has to be a role

model to her younger sister, but there is a problem. Codi comes to a point in her life when

she feels completely lost; even Hallie has found meaning in her life. It s true that I tried

myself to go into medicine, which is considered a helping profession, but I did it for the

lowest motives (Kingsolver 36). She has flashbacks of her past and thinks that they are

supposed to somehow help her discover herself. In the end, Codi finally realizes what she

wants to do with her life and feels proud that she has discovered it on her own. She finally has

a sense that her life is worth something. Hallie feels that she can finally look up to her sister

for something that she is also proud of herself.

These authors demonstrate their keen ability to portray the strong and painful

emotions of characters as they deal with the everyday struggle of living their lives on an

emotional roller coaster. The stories told by these women have the power to give readers the

influence of strength and confidence to deal with tough situations. The topics on which they

all chose to write are very similar to one another. They clearly reveal that even the people who

seem to be the weakest individuals can find it in themselves to make their life worthwhile. The

characters in these stories proved their strength and courage in dealing with their lives.

Though they grew up with terrible lives and hardly anything of a childhood, they managed to

work hard and prove to those around them that they had the ability to come out of the life

of a weak individual and introduce themselves to a brand new life. Though these authors all

had a different writing style, their writings were equally extraordinary. The different techniques used in these novels brought the stories to life all in various ways.



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