Gender, Class, And Identity in Alice Walker’s The Color Purple and Suzan-Lori Parks’ In the Blood (Published)
The genesis of suffering of Afro-American women has multilayered factors, i.e., race, class, gender, etc. But the struggle of these women is still underrepresented. The present paper looks at the representation of Afro-American women in the fictions of two Afro-American women writers – Alice Walker and Suzan-Lori Parks – to investigate the gender, class, and race dynamics in their works. Their selected works were analyzed from a comparative perspective with a view to highlight the plight of Afro-American women, and to look for possible convergence in the emancipated portrayal of their juxtaposed characters. The thematic stress and characterization of the protagonists in the selected works suggests that oppression of black women can be challenged only if they realize their own strength, in the bonds of sisterhood, for instance, or in the refusal to submission to oppressive conditions. Superficially, the writers have come up with juxtaposed images of black women – Alice Walker’s Celie victimized because of her poverty, race and gender, while Suzan-Lori Parks’ Hester allowing herself to be exploited by men, resorting to filicide in the end. But, at a deeper level both the writers chide black woman for their lack of strength to put a bold face against their oppressors.