& 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
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.