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The Color Purple

The Color Purple

by Alice Walker

Women and Femininity Theme

In this novel, most women either have to constantly fight against men, or completely submit and be trampled over. It is only the women with independent economic security that are able to stand up for themselves without severe repercussions. Women’s situations can improve, however, when women band together and support each other.

Questions About Women and Femininity

  1. What does it mean to be a woman in this novel? What do men think of women? What do women think of other women?
  2. Do women find comfort and solidarity with other women?
  3. Which women present strong figures? Is their behavior to be emulated?
  4. Is there a woman held up as the epitome of womanhood in this novel? Who is it and why is she the model? Do you think she’s a good model of femininity?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Although women are universally oppressed in The Color Purple, all of them learn to stick up for themselves. Ultimately, men fail to hold onto their power because the women in their lives refuse to abide by it.

In The Color Purple, men see women as objects to control; to have a healthy relationship, the book implies that most of these women have to turn to other women, like Shug and Celie.

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