The Color Purple

Gender Roles and Sexism College

Sexism is, at its core, a product of gender roles. In the early twentieth century, discrimination against women through the overt use of gender roles was highly prevalent amongst men and women. In a patriarchal society, women are expected to submit to men in all areas simply because women are supposedly “inferior” to and dependent on them. At the same time, women are encouraged into submissive, quiet roles that not only cement their status as beneath men but also give men roles with power. The cyclical nature of this systematic oppression continues its course without interference since it is considered a societal norm, and because women take on such passive roles, it gives men an excuse to justify their superiority and power over women. As a thematically driven novel, Alice Walker’s The Color Purple displays similar, reoccurring motifs concerning gender roles and sexism. Through Celie’s letters to God, the audience sees several occasions where gender roles lay hand in hand with sexism for many of the female characters and that the discrimination they face is a result of the gender values surrounding them. In work and marriage, violence, sex, and education, Alice Walker’s portrayal of gender roles in The Color Purple emphasizes...

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