THE PORTRAYAL OF BLACK WOMEN IN THE COLOR PURPLE AND
THE KEEPERS OF THE HOUSE: A COMPARATIVE STUDY THESIS
Submitted as Partial Fulfillment of Requirement for the Sarjana Sastra Degree of the English Department Faculty of Letters and Fine Arts
Sebelas Maret University
By Makna Sinatria C0307039 AMERICAN STUDIES ENGLISH DEPARTMENT
“You dream while you’re sleeping, But your dreams come true while you ’re not sleeping.” -LeeTeuk ‘Super Junior’-
“Jangan pikirkan seberapa besar mimpi itu untukmu, tapi seberapa besar dirimu untuk mimpi itu. ”
I dedicated this thesis to:
My self, my family, my beloved mother, my late father, and everyone who love reading novels
Alhamdulillahirrobil’alamin, praise and gratitude to the Most Merciful and
the Most Beneficient, Allah SWT, for blessing me upon accomplishing this thesis.
I tried my best and kept believing that I could do this that I finally finished my thesis.
I would like to thank Drs. Riyadi Santosa, M.Ed., Ph.D, the Dean of
Faculty of Letters and Fine Arts, and Drs. Agus Hari Wibowo, M.A., Ph.D., the Head of English Department, for giving permission to conduct this research. I would like to express my forever gratitude for all of my lecturers since the start of my study in English Department, especially all of American Studies lecturers. The knowledge, skills, and experiences are irreplaceable by everything in this world. Also to Angela Brown and Harriet Blymiller who had recommended lots of good books for my thesis.
I also want to deliver special gratitude to Dra. Susilorini, M.A. for her
patience while supervising my thesis. I thank you for the help of making this thesis as good as possible. I am also very grateful for any enlightening discussion every time I stuck on some points while finishing my thesis.
My deepest gratitude will always be directed to my lifetime motivator, my mother and late father for their everlasting effort for undeniable love, affection, My deepest gratitude will always be directed to my lifetime motivator, my mother and late father for their everlasting effort for undeniable love, affection,
I want to thank Shining Stars fellows, mbak Pipit, Zain, Giwang, Vista,
Casandra, Yay, Bee, Dorina, and Aken. If world is made up from F.U.N instead of W.O.R.L.D, this would is going to be filled with us. I thank you for all the time we have spent, to laugh together, to cry together, to fill the world with happiness, and to share our problems. They show me what it means to be friends. I will treasure all of those memories. A special thank goes to mbak Safitri, for she always be my best friend and my best rival.
I would like to say thank you for my high school friends, Sekar, Rani,
Saskia, Devi, Erick, Very, and Ragil whom I have made friends. I am very glad that I know them, and I thank you for making me the youngest one. My life would
be totally different if I did not befriend them. This thesis will never finish if I did not receive help and criticism from Amstuders 07 (the Feds), mbak Safitri, Vista, Candra, Syaiful, Daniel, Edwi. I am looking forward to work with the seven of us again. The same thing goes to Amstuders seniors (2006) and all of the seniors whom I know in English Department, especially mas Rizqi, mas Pondra, and mas Itok, also the member of R Book Club, I thank you for your help every time I need someone to ask..
ED07 are important to me. I wish them good luck for the next step of our life. I thank you for you guys motivate me, compete with me, that I am able to always make one step forward. The same thank goes to my English Department juniors, may the odds be ever in your favor.
It will be unfair if I do not say thank you for Super Junior, you guys mean more than just an idol to me, for you always motivate me and make me who I am now. I learn about surviving and never giving up from all of them. They also taught me about respecting and loving others. I also want to thank my twitter friends, especially Jessie eonni, Sora eonni, and Maze eonni for always giving me encouragements. I thank you for letting me rant and complain about my thesis, and for giving me any word of advice. Last appreciation goes to my KBS team, Bee, Yay, Litha Dewi, Amal, Pia, Ajeng, and everyone I could not mention one by one. I thank you for giving me the confidence to become the leader of the group.
Surakarta, July 01, 2012 Makna Sinatria
D. Feminist Literary Criticism………………………………………...
E. The Color Purple and The Keepers of the House …………………
1. The Color Purple……………………………………………….
2. The Keepers of the House……………………………………...
F. Alice Walker and Shirley Ann Grau……………………………….
1. Alice Walker……………………………………………………
2. Shirley Ann Grau………………………………………………
CHAPTER III: ANALYSIS………………………………………………
A. In Comparison: Cultural and Social Setting of The Color Purple and The Keepers of the House ………………………………………….
1. Racism and Segregation Practice as Depicted in Both Novels….
2. Woman Subordination as Portrayed in The Color Purple and The Keepers of the House ……………………………………………
B. In Comparison: Portrayal of Black Woman in The Color Purple and The Keepers of the House ………………………………………….
1. Values of True Womanhood in African and American Community ……………………………………………………
2. Women’s Natural Role/Job……………………………………
3. Dependent Woman as the Most Ideal Woman………………..
4. Women’s limited sphere………………………………………
CHAPTER IV: CONC LUSION AND RECOMMENDATION………...
B. Recommendation………………………………………………… BIBLIOGRAPHY………………………………………………………..
119 119 122 123
THE KEEPERS OF THE HOUSE: A COMPARATIVE STUDY
Makna Sinatria 1 Dra. Susilorini, M.A. 2 M. Taufiq Al Makmun, S.S, M.A. 3
2012. Thesis. Faculty of Letters and Fine Arts. Sebelas Maret University. The emergence of the cult of true womanhood in the early 20 th century had triggered the movement called Black Madonna Movement, which caused a great number of black women to embrace the values of true womanhood. Alice Walker and Shirley Ann Grau are two of many woman authors who write about black womanhood. The aim of the research is to describe how black women are portrayed by two racially different woman authors. This research is a descriptive qualitative research which is conducted on two novels, The Color Purple and The Keepers of the House as the source of data. The primary data are all the texts in the novels containing of the portrayal of the black woman characters in the 1910-1940s, which includes the characterizations in the form of words, phrases, clauses, sentences, and expressions. To support the primary data, secondary data includes research on the two novels made by other researchers and the comments from the critics related to the object of the research. This research is conducted under the framework of American Studies. As the two novels are considered as woman writing, the literary analysis which is used to analyze the whole texts is under the scope of Feminist Literary Criticism. The socio-historical approach is also needed to relate the events happen in the novel, and to reveal the validity of how both authors depict the society as in the real life. The analysis finds that in the setting of early 20 th century, both authors portray black women aligning with the values of true womanhood. However, both authors portray them differently. Walker portrays Celie as the product of Black Madonna Movement thus making her the idealized woman among her Black peers, and Grau portrays Margaret fitting the values of true womanhood from white woman ’s point of view who held the virtue of white womanhood. In different way both novels empower black and white women to gain their independence and gender equality.
Keywords : Alice Walker, Shirley Ann Grau, ideal woman, minority, American literature, black womanhood.
A. RESEARCH BACKGROUND
In the 20 th century, black literature developed rapidly, as the result of the advancement of black feminism, and American women writings. The authors tried to speak out what they think about black woman through their writings. On these literatures, many authors used Black Women as their characters, either as the main or supporting character. Mainly the setting of these literary works is in the Deep South and in the early 20 th century. It might be due to the fact that Black women was the most suffering among minority groups in the slavery era, and the authors found it to
be an interesting issue to be exploited on their works. The authors of these novels are mainly the Blacks, but many of them are whites too. Black writers had their skill on representing Black women on their works accurately through their historical experience. Many black writers wrote about what happen to the black women at that time and they were succeeded on describing the situation or setting as if real on their novels. These authors were trying to give description on what happened to the black women through their writings, whether it‟s narratives or essays. What about the white writers? Obviously they have no direct experience to the slavery, thus they might have differences on how they represent Black women on their writings. As one of the building elements of novel, the author ‟s be an interesting issue to be exploited on their works. The authors of these novels are mainly the Blacks, but many of them are whites too. Black writers had their skill on representing Black women on their works accurately through their historical experience. Many black writers wrote about what happen to the black women at that time and they were succeeded on describing the situation or setting as if real on their novels. These authors were trying to give description on what happened to the black women through their writings, whether it‟s narratives or essays. What about the white writers? Obviously they have no direct experience to the slavery, thus they might have differences on how they represent Black women on their writings. As one of the building elements of novel, the author ‟s
Black woman characters on many literary works might be represented differently in many literature works. For example: in some works, Black Woman might be portrayed to be weak, and as bad people, while on some other works, Black women struggled for their rights, were strong, and dependable. The way they wrote about Black Woman would incite different feeling, related to how the author described the woman characters on the novel.
Both white and black women experienced the same subordination in the early
20 th century, although some white woman already had their „freedom‟ and their rights in the society. The woman subordination practice still happened in some country —in this case, in the Southern countries, as the society still believed that wifehood and motherhood were woman ‟s profession. Though some women might gone to college and finish their study, in the end, when they were married, their husbands would likely demand them to stay at home and took care the family for him.
As depicted in the post-slavery themed novels, the depiction of black woman written by both black and white woman writers always dwell in the domestic area. This was influenced by the concept of woman in the 19 th century, which women were supposed to be in the domestic area, especially the Southern women whose lives As depicted in the post-slavery themed novels, the depiction of black woman written by both black and white woman writers always dwell in the domestic area. This was influenced by the concept of woman in the 19 th century, which women were supposed to be in the domestic area, especially the Southern women whose lives
The previous researches related to The Color Purple by Alice Walker are mainly about the feminism and the studies of race and domesticity, while The Keepers of the House are mainly researched for its view on slavery rather than the focus on the position of Black Woman, thus the portrayal of black woman done by both writers is an interesting issue to be taken as research. Obviously there are two different portrayals of the image of the ideal black woman in both novels, and they are written differently. First, with the regard to the author ‟s background, the novel written by Alice Walker obviously sees it from the eye of black woman with her complex historical background and experience for being minority, while Shirley Ann Grau applies her white background to voice the white main character. Second, from the structure of the novel itself, the storyline is different since The Color Purple uses first point of view of Celie as the main back woman character thus the feeling of Celie is obviously seen through the writing, while in The Keepers of the House uses Abigail ‟s eyes to portray Margaret, the black woman character in the novel.
Both novels can be compared since they use the same theme, they use Black woman character on their work, the same setting of place in Deep South, and the
Similar to the point explained above, the author profile is very important on the content of their work.
Although there are other formal elements in literary works, an author‟s ideology on building the storyline is considered as a crucial factor which will determine the depiction and the outcome of the story.
Literatures … …are informed and shaped by the authors‟ respective value systems, their notions of how the world is or ought to be. These values — reflecting a set of views and assumptions regarding such things as “human nature,” social organization and norms of behavior, moral principles, questions of good and evil, right or wrong, and what is important in life — constitute authors‟ ideologies. They may be idiosyncratic to the individual author, or may reflect and express the values of the culture at large, or of subgroups within the culture (Suntherland, 1985, p. 143).
Cultu re and the authors‟ ideology by all means are the important factor on making the story. As the authors tend to write what they believe in and the outcome of their work will be the representation of what they believe in.
That is why I want to explore on the difference between the Black American woman writer and White American woman writer in portraying black women experience. Since, obviously they have different background, from their skin color and how the society treated them differently as white and black. It can be seen, from these aspects, how both literary works were influenced by the authors ‟ life and values that were determined by their different racial experience. Thus this research aims to find out how these two works portray black women, and how these portrayals were
her era, as one of critics, Richard Wesley (as cited in Kane, 2001) states that Alice Walker can reveal “a country‟s dark secrets”. Her works aroused many debates and discussion among researchers and the reviewers, especially The Color Purple. The Color Purple is one of her most powerful work which able to tell about “… racism and sexism, pull together the author ‟s main ideas about women‟s life and culture…” (in Shakhovtseva, 2000, para. 8) and what was on the black woman ‟s mind on her story —which at that time only could be shown through letters and perhaps the talk between black women.
The Color Purple is an epistolary narrative of Celie, a black woman who receives an abuse from her stepfather. When she finally marries a man, although she never loves her husband, she always does whatever her husband tells her to do. On her new home, Celie is not treated as a wife; rather she is seen as his housekeeper and sexual object. Celie does not object this, as she believes that woman ‟s roles are to obey her husband and should not do what he forbids. When she finally meets a black woman singer, Shug Avery, Celie makes her way out of Mr. ____ ‟s house and decides on making her own life.
The black society also believed in the patriarchal system, which focused on the male supremacy and woman subordination, though some black woman might gain their own freedom by fighting back. Commonly, black women who should be able to take care of the family, were inferior toward their male counterparts, should be
black woman might be in is the church and the market. There are not many white writers who write about black woman, especially from their female point of view. The question of authenticity might be the reason why there are not many white writers to this issue. Their works might not be believable as when it is written by the blacks themselves, they might not have the same point of view for the story. Of course the writing style and the diction will be really different to get the feel, moreover when some white writer tries to be the voice of a black character. The Keepers of the House is one of the excellent examples of a white woman writer who has successfully talked about black woman, without losing its typical white people writing style. It also has great “… metaphor for the long- established families of the Deep South, their encounters with changing values and norms, and the hypocrisy of racism ” (Laming, 1999, para.9).
The Keepers of the House is a four-chaptered novel which focuses on the life of the Howlands, a white family lives in Wade Country near Madison City in the year of 1910s to 1940s. Three quarter part of this book tells the story of William Howland and his black housekeeper, Margaret Charmichael. The story then focuses on Abigail Howland, the narrator of the first and fourth chapter about her life, and her family ‟s secret. Her grandfather lives with Margaret, and they have three children. People think that Margaret is the Howlands‟ housekeeper, but the thing they do not know is that Margaret and William Howland are legally married in Cleveland before their first
Madison City are angry and attack the Howland Estate. Margaret, a black woman, is presented from the point of view of Abigail Howland, as a figure of woman beyond the skin barrier. Although she is aware of Margaret being a black woman, she rarely mentions this. In this novel, there is some kind of blurry difference between a wife and a housekeeper. Margaret being a black woman is seen as merely a housekeeper by the people of Madison City, but she is a wife for William Howland.
As stated in The Emergence of “Women’s Sphere”, there are four chief characteristics for a woman, they are “… piety, purity, submissiveness, and domesticity. She was the great civilizer who created order in the home in return for her husband ‟s protection, financial security, and social status” (“ushistory.org”, 2008). Although Southern women had big role for their family and their husband, their supposed sphere would always be in their home (domestic sphere).
Alice Walker seems to be supporting black woman emancipation by portraying that although at the beginning of the story Celie is suppressed by her male counterparts, there are another black women who are free and not in the condition of being suppressed. In the end, Celie is able to stand for her rights and free from being inferior to her male counterparts. On the other side, Shirley Ann Grau focuses her story on the white woman characters and gives portrayal of black woman in strong segregated and patriarchal society. It can be seen that she sympathizes on what Alice Walker seems to be supporting black woman emancipation by portraying that although at the beginning of the story Celie is suppressed by her male counterparts, there are another black women who are free and not in the condition of being suppressed. In the end, Celie is able to stand for her rights and free from being inferior to her male counterparts. On the other side, Shirley Ann Grau focuses her story on the white woman characters and gives portrayal of black woman in strong segregated and patriarchal society. It can be seen that she sympathizes on what
B. SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This thesis will highlight most on the Black Woman studies, related to the portrayal of the black woman character to fit the image of the ideal early 20 th century American woman on the two novels written by Alice Walker on The Color Purple and Shirley Ann Grau on The Keepers of the House. The thesis will focus on the comparison study of the black woman characters portrayal in both novels, related to
the author‟s background of being Black or White, under the study of Feminist Literary Criticism.
C. RESEARCH QUESTION
This research is conducted in order to answer the following question: How are black women portrayed in The Color Purple and in The Keepers of the House ?
D. OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
Keepers of the House .
E. BENEFITS OF THE STUDY
Blacks, or minorities issue have always been interesting topic to be researched. There are many researches about blacks in the English Department program and there are only some students of American Studies taken the American literature on minorities. This research is expected to give deeper knowledge about generally black women issue, and especially the portrayal of the black woman in American literatures. This research is expected to be beneficial to:
1. English Department students: to stimulate them on researching American literature about minorities, specifically about black women, which I think the most interesting topic to be learned deeper.
2. Other researchers: to give more information to other researchers who have same interest on black women issue in American literature.
F. RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
1. Type of Research As Badgon and Taylor (in Moleong, 1989, p. 3) state that qualitative research as a research that yield the descriptive data in the form of written or oral words from observing people and their behavior, this research could be
This research will use two types of data. The first is the primary data from the raw materials from the source of data. The source of data is two literary works The Color Purple and The Keeper of the House. From the source of data, the primary data will be all texts in the novels containing of the portrayal of the black woman characters. This data includes the characterizations in the form of word, phrases, clauses, sentences and expressions in the novels. Secondary data is needed to support the primary data. The secondary data are data or research on the two works made by other researchers. The secondary data will include all selected analysis of the novels and also comments from the critics related to the object of the research.
3. Technique of Collecting Data Upon collecting the appropriate data for the research, the data are collected by reading both novels in order to understand the whole stories about the portrayal of the black women characters. In the same time, it will be important to highlight the important points/events from the novels which relates with the plot, characterization, setting, and other intrinsic elements of the novels to support the analysis.
4. Technique of Analyzing Data
related to American studies will be conducted. The literary analysis will be used in order to relate the text and the context as a whole related text. This literary analysis will be conducted under the scope of feminist literary criticism. The socio-cultural and historical approach is also significant for analyzing the data. In the end of the research, a conclusion is drawn to complete the research based on the analyzed data. The analysis is done by taking advantages of all the acquired data from reference books, and sites in the internet, in order to study more about the relevant topic.
G. THEORETICAL APPROACH
This research will be conducted under the framework of American Studies. Literally, American studies is the study of American culture. America has a very vast definition of what they called as culture, and all these things related to American culture could be put under the framework of American studies. This is as explained by Robert F. Berkhofer, Jr. on his journal A New Context for New American Studies?:
Under the rubric of "culture," scholars of America in disciplines as diverse as music, art, literature, and intellectual history believed that they were all studying and thereby constituting a common context in order to move Under the rubric of "culture," scholars of America in disciplines as diverse as music, art, literature, and intellectual history believed that they were all studying and thereby constituting a common context in order to move
American studies is an interdisciplinary field which incorporates to another studies. As John Carlos Rowe (2002) states on his book The New American Studies, American studies could be used to trace the multicultural theories which attempted to compare and make a contrast difference on ethnic communities. The African American history also affects the different ethnic cultures in United States, which is somehow reflected in many literary works. By using these literary works we might be able to reveal the whole American culture.
Literature plays a great role on the development of American studies, as we will never be able to separate American literature, history, and American studies. There is a bold line which relates the role of American literature in the American life, and how the literature creates the society. The theory of Social Construction of Reality done by Berger and Luckmann (1966) made a clearer sociocultural approach to literature. As R. Gordon Kelly states on his journal on The Social Construction of Reality: Implications for Future Directions in American Studies :
…The Social Construction of Reality makes it possible to conceive of literature in its several ongoing phases —its creation, publication,
distribution, consumption, evaluation, and selective transmission —as an important institution for the production of meaning and the maintenance of social reality in the society (1983: 54).
Literature plays an important role on building the society, but at the same time,
institution, and social creation. By using the language as its medium to 'talk' to the society, “literature 'represents' 'life'; and 'life' is, in a large measure, a social reality” (Wellek and Warren, 1977, p. 94). In this sense, literature is constructed by the author and the society. The authors are influenced by the values they get from the society and then somehow, on writing they pour the values into their literary works, intentionally or unintentionally. There have always been debate over this, whether the literature is socially constructed or 'literature as expression of society' —which means literature is the mirror of the current social situation.
African American History and literature has been a part of American studies for a long time ago. African-American literature can not be separated from history- based literature. These types of literature, mainly written by the African-Americans led the American literature developed vastly, not only on the study of the literature, but also the study of history through literature. Although how the history is developed in the literature will depend on the corresponding culture and the author.
The study of African- American slavery stories doesn‟t only develop merely for the African-Americans, but also for the whites. This brought up so many debates whether on how they would describe the African-Americans truly like what happened in the reality or not. As in the book entitled Confession of Nat Turner by William Styron, who is a white man, writing about a black historical figure using the first person point of view called up lots of debates about his book. Many blacks thought The study of African- American slavery stories doesn‟t only develop merely for the African-Americans, but also for the whites. This brought up so many debates whether on how they would describe the African-Americans truly like what happened in the reality or not. As in the book entitled Confession of Nat Turner by William Styron, who is a white man, writing about a black historical figure using the first person point of view called up lots of debates about his book. Many blacks thought
The characters in the stories are fictitious, so it will depend on the author whether s/he wants to make her/him a saint, or a sinner. Obviously, white writers and black writers will have different style of language and way to describe a character, aside from the character being good or bad. Thus, the analysis of how the black and white writers describe black women especially on its portrayal to fit the image of the early 20 th century ideal woman based on The Color Purple by Alice Walker and The Keepers of the House by Shirley Ann Grau is conducted.
On doing my data analysis on both novels I will use the literary analysis. Literary analysis is study, evaluation, and interpretation of literature. Literary analysis has been used widely on analyzing many literature works. This analysis is used in order to understand more on how the author relate all elements of a literature work, from the storyline, setting, characters, and conflict. Literary analysis is used on my research to understand how the authors build the characters —especially the black woman characters —on their novel still in relation to the storyline. As I will focus on the black woman characters on the novels, it will be important to use all the data needed to support the arguments. Although the main concern of the research is the portrayal of the black woman characters in the two novels, by understanding the
the characters. Regarding the object of the research, Feminist literary analysis will be suitable to be used as the analytical approach on the research. The literary analysis by using feminist literary criticism is compulsory to be used here, since the common literary analysis will only focus on analyzing literary works by using masculine point of view. Both writers are women and practically they used female point of view for both novels. From Jared Lewis (2008) on What is the Feminist Approach to Literary Criticism? , he states that feminist literary criticism is used to analyze literature which empowers the female point-of-view.
Alice Walker on writing her novel, The Color Purple gives almost clear description of what happened to the Black societies as the result of slavery experience. This can be seen from how she builds her paragraphs and takes the view point from the main character, Celie. The story is made in letter-like from Celie to God, some letters from Nettie for Celie, and some Celie writes to Nettie. This compilation of letters gives the point-of-view from the black women to the actions they receive as a woman. Celie ‟s point of view and letter writing style, however, shows who she really is. She is a black woman, uneducated, and she obviously shares her position as woman in the society —black and white—and in her family through her letters. She shares it through her letters to God, because at that time, woman should not speak up in the public, and they should do whatever the black men or their Alice Walker on writing her novel, The Color Purple gives almost clear description of what happened to the Black societies as the result of slavery experience. This can be seen from how she builds her paragraphs and takes the view point from the main character, Celie. The story is made in letter-like from Celie to God, some letters from Nettie for Celie, and some Celie writes to Nettie. This compilation of letters gives the point-of-view from the black women to the actions they receive as a woman. Celie ‟s point of view and letter writing style, however, shows who she really is. She is a black woman, uneducated, and she obviously shares her position as woman in the society —black and white—and in her family through her letters. She shares it through her letters to God, because at that time, woman should not speak up in the public, and they should do whatever the black men or their
novel. Although this book focuses more on the segregated society and the power of woman —in this case Abigail Howland—to fight back what the society have given to her with her own womanly way, there is a big portrayal of the ideal woman in the patriarchal society which is portrayed by a black woman.
The socio-historical approach is also used to relate the events happen in the novels and in the socio-historical condition in the post-slavery era. In here, the sociological approach is used as the setting of the novels, how the author s‟ description relates with what happened in the society, as literature can not be separated from the society. The description of the novel might have some influences in the society and vice versa. It might be what happened in the society influence the author to write something in their works. Alice Walker and Shirley Ann Grau try to portray the social condition of the related year when the novels were published. In the 1960s when The Keepers of the House was the time when many white writers still made black women as the enemy of the white femininity and Grau might want to counter this 20 th century negative portrayal of black women by giving Margaret the image of virtuous woman. On the other hand, Alice Walker gives the criticism towards the black society, especially “black women were obsessed with pursuing the ideal femininity described on television, in books and magazines ” (Hooks, 1981, p.
themselves to be the loyal helpmate for men. The historical approach will be used to reveal the real events and set the time —in this case is the end of 19 th century (post-slavery era in Deep South) and the early 20 th century. As the novels are not historical novel or biography-type novel, this approach can be used to reveal the validity of the two literary works. Although both works are fiction, the plausibility and the validity should be existed to create better arguments regarding the portrayal of black woman to fit the image of the ideal early 20 th century American woman.
H. THESIS ORGANIZATION
There are four chapters in this thesis. The first chapter serves as introduction which presents research background, scope of the study, research question, objective of the study, benefits of the study, research methodology, theoretical approach, and thesis organization.
The next chapter is literature review. It consists of the historical background of sexism in the black society, true womanhood, black womanhood, feminist literary criticism, and brief summary of The Color Purple and The Keepers of the House.
Chapter three is the analysis of black women portrayal in both novels. This chapter is divided into two subchapters. The first subchapter covers the socio-cultural setting of The Color Purple and The Keepers of the House, consists the analysis of racism and segregation practice and woman subordination as depicted in both novels.
of both novels are trying to create the image of Black women as to fit the image of the ideal woman of the early 20 th century.
The last chapter provides the conclusion of the research findings and recommendation given to other researchers who have same interest in the field of the study.
In this chapter, I will include some previous study and theories which are used as the references for conducting the research. In the research, I use some books and journals about black woman, late 19 th century concept of ideal woman, woman sphere, and literary analysis from feminist perspective, or commonly called as feminist literary criticism. This literature review will be divided into four subchapters. They are: The Historical Background of Sexism in the Black Society, True Womanhood and Black Womanhood, Feminist Literary Criticism, and brief summary of The Color Purple and The Keepers of the House.
A. The Historical Background of Sexism in the Black Society
In her book Ain’t I a Woman, Bell Hooks gives account on the historical
background of black woman and black feminism also sexism. Sexism has been the main issue faced by the black women, before, in and after the slavery era. Even after the slavery ended and the Blacks finally get their liberation, within the Black society there was segregation between male and female. Then, the next era of slavery existed, the black women were en slaved by the black men. This slavery doesn‘t mean it to be literally enslavement like what the whites did to the blacks, but it is slavery practice. As Bell Hooks (1981) on her book, Ain’t I a Woman states that ―in a retrospective background of black woman and black feminism also sexism. Sexism has been the main issue faced by the black women, before, in and after the slavery era. Even after the slavery ended and the Blacks finally get their liberation, within the Black society there was segregation between male and female. Then, the next era of slavery existed, the black women were en slaved by the black men. This slavery doesn‘t mean it to be literally enslavement like what the whites did to the blacks, but it is slavery practice. As Bell Hooks (1981) on her book, Ain’t I a Woman states that ―in a retrospective
Patriarchy system exists in the Black society too and its practice could be tracked down to the African-Americans ancestors in Africa. Like in other patriarchal society all over the world, women have their own ―sphere‖ and they are forbidden to do some things and of course inferior to their male counterparts. This condition can
be seen from the account written by Amanda Berry Smith, a 19 th century black missiona ry who visited Africa, which is written in Bell Hooks‘ book: The poor women of Africa, like those of India, have a hard time. As a rule,
they have all the hard work to do. They have to cut and carry all the wood, carry all the water on their heads, and plant all the rice. The men and boys cut and burn the bush, with the help of the women; but sowing the rice, and planting the cassava, the women have to do. You will often see a great, big man walking ahead with nothing in his hand but a cutlass (as they always carry that or a spear), and a woman, his wife, coming on behind with a great big child on her back, and a load on her head. No matter how tired she is, her lord would not think of bringing her a jar of water, to cook his supper with, or of beating the rice, no, she must do that. (1981, p. 16-17)
Black women thought that they must do the most work and it‘s their nature to do so. They were taught that they should obey whatever the higher positioned people told
them to do, because it‘s their nature to do so. In the Black society, women saw patriarchy as an institutionalized sexism, and they believed that they were the one who suffer most on this patriarchy system, although not every woman was aware of this situation . From many articles about woman‘s liberation, it seemed that woman them to do, because it‘s their nature to do so. In the Black society, women saw patriarchy as an institutionalized sexism, and they believed that they were the one who suffer most on this patriarchy system, although not every woman was aware of this situation . From many articles about woman‘s liberation, it seemed that woman
By the beginning of the black liberation movement, the black men got the leadership position and black women should be there to support them because it was their proper role (Lewis, 1977). According to Bell Hooks on her book, she states that black men were able to let out the sexism issue from their liberation movement because they see women as an object, and they saw racism was way more important issue. The slavery done by the whites to the blacks only reinforced more on the
blacks‘ belief on the inferiority of women, and ―the devaluation of black womanhood occurred as the result of the sexual exploitation of black women during slavery that
has not altered in the course of hundreds of years‖ (1981, p. 53). The devaluation of black womanhood kept going on even years after the black
liberation movement. Black women were seen as sexual objects and as their property. Black women had very limited sphere compared to the white women. If at that time some white women in the South already had the ability to enter public sphere and had some authority gained from their husband or father, most black women still had to deal with their nature in the domestic sphere. Although some black women might have joined some organizations, they focused on the racial issue rather than on women ‘s issue as they are expected to support the welfare of their race first. As stated by Diane K. Lewis in A Response to Inequality: Black Women, Racism, and Sexism
interests as women ‖ (1977, p. 343). Black matriarchy was one of the reasons why black men were trying to put black women under their control. They were regarded of having ―too much control and power in their families ‖ (Cazenave, 1983, p. 341). Black women used to earn more money than the men, although this did not necessarily put the women as the breadwinner. After the Civil War, black women had better jobs in many sectors such as education, nursing, maid, etc, and had bigger opportunity in the society. Some black men thought that they had to do something to ‗keep down‘ the women and to make them respect the powerful one. This was done by coercion; in some families, spanking or hitting was a way to discipline family member to show who was in charge in the house.
B. True Womanhood
The idea of true womanhood had been rooted in the American society, creating what-so-called women ‘s sphere and placed woman in the pedestal, being valued and subordinated at the same time. This idea widespread all over North and South America, with the greatest effect in the Deep South. In North America, ideal woman had changed although not significantly under the effect of Woman Rights Movement where some white and black women had better condition compared to years back. Even though women might have gained their rights to speak in public
white and black American woman. All of theories about ideal woman or true womanhood hold the same ideas that woman ‘s most proper sphere is home and womanhood equals to motherhood. Woman played important roles in her private sphere; she should be able to maintain order in their home when her husband was away, financial security, and of course the social status. To be a true woman, women were expected to have four main personalities; they are ―piety, purity, submissiveness, and domesticity‖ ( ―ushistory.org‖, 2008).
Woman in pedestal, although pretty famous for white mistress in the slavery era, was the most common condition for women in the late 19 th century, women were highly valued and expected to be her husband ‘s loyal partner, and they were ―expected to be a wife, mother, homemaker, cook, seamstress, and gardener‖ (Hagler, 1980, p. 412). Most of Southern writers placed their setting in the agriculture realm, this was because most of Southerners were agriculturalists. Easier to say is that most of the wives of these farmers were expected to stay at home, taking care of the house, being ‗the keepers of the house‘. Some families thought that women should know how to cook, clean, and take care of household duties, they were not expected to employ servant to do their supposed household duties.
This idea slightly changed after the rise of the cult of ladies in the mid-19 th century. The cult of ladies was ―a cult which, according to its detractors, raised
noblewomen in the Victorian era. These ladies gossiped with other ladies, talked about poetry and literature, sat idly in the drawing room while playing piano or enjoying another idle day in their houses. Hagler states that though there were two different supporters of ideal women in the South at that time, the Lady and the Farmwives —who had different characteristics, these supporters hold same perception that ―Southern women should be sensible and practical and should strife to be perfect wives, devoted mothers, and impeccable homemakers ‖ (1980, p. 406).
Hagler states through his research entitled The Ideal Woman in the Antebellum South: Lady or Farmwife ,
―A letter in the Farmer and Planter put the matter succinctly: Many farmers will scrimp themselves to send their daughters to boarding schools to make ladies of them. These ladies return after a year or two, mostly full of genteel notions; they have learned to play the piano, knit edging, and work sky blue dogs in worsted. They have, as I said, become ladies; they not only will let their hard working mothers do all the house work and oversee the diary [sic], but they have such great ideas of their own worth they will hardly recognize their former associates because they are farmers and mechanics and work for a living; such occupations they despise, but they are greatly charmed with professional men and such, who live by their wits. ‖ (Hagler, 1980, p. 407)
The cult of ladies rose along with the preferences of fashions, fashionable furniture, fine dress and other luxuries. More Southerners sent their daughter to boarding school where they learn about literatures, playing piano, etiquette, and how to be a lady. Some prefer-farmwife farmers believed that ―reading novels and piano playing as obstacles to the proper education of women. Moreover, they considered both reading
(Hagler, 1980, p. 407). Women who were expected to learn how to cook and to take care of the house spent most of their leisure time in the drawing room showing off their fine dress and jewelries to other ladies. Although this condition only appeared to the haves, most of these women tried to wear fashionable dress. Being unable to do the household works by themselves, these young ladies were trained on how to order house servants, and in here the role of black woman as the housekeeper was needed.
In Southern America, women might work in the fields in which were the extensions of their role of mother and wife. Women were allowed to work as teachers, nurses, servants, secretaries but none or very few of them started chasing careers like men did. Very few made careers in the public sphere. It was still okay for women to work in the political sectors, but not as the politician, they were there to support the men (the politicians).
C. Black Womanhood
Black women were more often depicted as negative character in a lot of white literatures. According to Patricia Morton cited by Mgadmi, the common picturization of black women were ―the ‗inept domestic servant‘ (the mammy), the domineering matriarch, the sex object (the Jezebel), and the tragic mulatto. ‖ (Morton in Mgadmi, 2009, para. 1). The cult of true womanhood could never be applied to black woman, no matter how hard they tried to do so.