Women, letters and the empire : the role of the epistolary narrative in Alice Walker's The color purple
AuthorJørgensen, Maria Berg
In the 1982 novel "The Color Purple", Alice Walker wrote the first African-American epistolary novel. It is narrated in letters written by a black woman who writes in her rural dialect rather than Standard English, and is widely acknowledged for giving a voice to a character who is silenced not only by her race and her class, but also by sexual violence. This thesis investigates the role of the letters in the novel, and finds that they not only serve to solidify the voice of an initially voiceless person, but that the main character's style of writing challenges the conventions of the epistolary novel. The thesis argues that "The Color Purple" is a post-colonial revision of the very form of the epistolary novel, in particular of Samuel Richardon's "Pamela" (1740). It discusses the form of the letters in "The Color Purple" in the light of studies on the traditional epistolary novel as well as post-colonial theory, and finds that Walker's unconventional use of the epistolary form mirrors the way the two letter-writers in the novel use the English language.
PublisherUniversitetet i Tromsø
University of Tromsø
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