In observance of Black History Month, I have chosen to research the literary works of Alice Malsenior Walker. She was born February 9, 1944 to struggling sharecroppers in Eatonton, Georgia, who had difficulties due to racial hardships .
At the age of eight, she was accidently shot in the eye by her brothers. Others shunned her because of her scar. This forced isolation caused Alice to find other ways to deal with the loneliness. She began to read and write poetry.
Alice Walker’s literary work has been greatly influenced by her life of activism and the struggles that African Americans experienced during slavery and the period that followed.
I believe she describes it well in the following quote:
“ There is a special grief felt by the children and grandchildren of those who were forbidden to read, forbidden to explore, forbidden to question or to know. Looking back on my parents’ and grandparents’ lives, I have often felt overwhelmed, helpless, as I’ve examined history and society, and especially religion, with them in mind, and have seen how they were manipulated away from a belief in their own judgment and faith in themselves.”
Growing up seeing her parents struggle and listening to the stories of her ancestors caused her to care deeply for the African American struggles. Most of her work especially centers around the struggles that African American Women endured.
African American women had very little rights in the early 1900’s. They were thought of and treated as possessions, first by their fathers and then by their husbands. Even society looked at them as lower beings. Even though slavery was ended, some still treated African American people no better than slaves.
Even though Alice Walker is widely known for her book the Color Purple , she is an accomplished writer of poems, essays, and other books.
She has experimented with different styles of writing during her career.
“ Walker’s work fits together like a patchwork; each story, poem, novel, and essay is separate from the rest of her work and yet continuous and contingent.” (Alumbaugh 69) This statement describes Alice Walkers literary style correctly. Even though her style varies, her theme always connects to African American Heritage and hardships.
Alice Walker was the first African-American to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1983. She was awarded this prize for her book The Color Purple that was also “nominated for a National Book Critics’ Award, and won the American Book Award”. (Danielle)
She has also won awards for some of her other work.
Some of these awards includes a “prize from The American Scholar for her essay, The Civil Rights Movement: Was it Good? , The Lillian Smith Award from the Southern Regional Council for her book of poetry, and Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Award from the American Institute of Arts and litters for her collection of short stories called In Love and In Trouble: Stories of Black Women ”. (Danielle)