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Speaking in Tongues and Dancing DiasporaBlack Women Writing and Performing$
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Mae G. Henderson

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780195116595

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195116595.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 16 April 2021

Alice Walker’s The Color Purple

Alice Walker’s The Color Purple

(p.22) 1 Alice Walker’s The Color Purple
Speaking in Tongues and Dancing Diaspora

Mae G. Henderson

Oxford University Press

Alice Walker’s The Color Purple revises the traditional English epistolary novel, a form invented by men writing about women. This chapter argues that both author and her women characters, Celie and Shug, work to transform the traditionally patriarchal and oppressive institutions of literature, religion, and family. On a formal level, Walker subverts white and male literary codes and conventions; on the level of plot and theme, she rewrites the codes and conventions that dominate social and sexual relations. Also emphasized is the importance of popular culture (blues), material culture (quilting and sewing), and folk culture (conjuring)—forms that represent the female bonding achieved through collective labor.

Keywords:   Alice Walker, Mae G. Henderson, Celie, Shug, epistolary novel, patriarchy, conjuring, quilting, blues, popular culture, material, folk culture, female bonding

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