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Alice Walker Biography

Alice Walker was born on February 9, 1944 in Eatonton, Georgia. She was born into a poor sharecropper family, and the last of eight children. At the age of 8 she was accidentally shot in the eye by her brother and was blinded on one eye until she the age of 14 when she got an operation and regained some of her sight. This experience made her very secluded and reserved. She thought a lot about suicide but found comfort in writing. She became an observer rather than a participator in everyday life.

Alice Walker herself has said: “I believe it is from this period – from my solitary, lonely position, the position of an outcast – that I began really to se people and things, really to notice relationships and to learn to be patient enough to care about how they turned out… ” She was one out of only six black students at the Sarah Lawrence College in New York where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1965. AW has had some problems of her own; she was very depressed after an abortion in senior year at college.

She slept with a razor under her pillow for three nights as she wanted to commit suicide. Instead she turned to writing and in a week she wrote the story “To Hell with Dying”. She only stopped writing to eat and sleep. AW always turned to writing when she was depressed, in these periods she got the greatest inspiration to her stories. AW and her ex-husband Melvyn Leventhal were the first legally married interracial couple to live in the state of Missisippi (married in 1967, divorced in 1976). They had a daughter, Rebecca. She later remarried fellow editor Robert Allen.

AW was active in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s. She has spoken for the women’s movement, the anti-apartheid movement, for the anti-nuclear movement and against female genital mutilation. AW calls herself “a womanist “, her term for a black feminist. She is one of the female Afro-American writers founding the concept “New Black Renaissance” . Style AW’s work is deeply rooted in oral tradition; in the passing on of stories from generation to generation in the language of the people. To AW the language had a great importance.

She uses the “Slave language”, which by others is seen as “not correct language”, but this is because of the effect she wants the reader to understand. Her stories are often told by poor Black women, which explain the language choice. It has to be realistic and it will only be so if the use of language is how an underprivileged Black woman would have put it. Themes The struggle of black people throughout history. Being poor in the country, about the south. Experiences of black women in sexist and racist’s society, sexual oppression.

Domestic problems (most often violence). Race, gender, social status/conditions and heritage. The black women’s power to overcome many things and to maintain continuity in both personal relationships and communities. African American women’s role for the survival of the family. (About unfortunate Afro-American families, where the father is very often absent  mother’s network of family and friends, who becomes the people affecting the life of the children  holds the cultural survival).

The woman characters display strength, endurance and the resourcefulness in confronting and overcoming oppression in their lives. The plight of poor Black women. About having little or no power in the old south. Work AW has written 5 novels, 4 books of essays and 5 poetry books. Her most famous book is “The Color Purple” which is also in a Danish version and it has been filmed. “Meridian”, which she wrote in 1976, is a story about a young southern poor Black female student joining the Civil Rights Movement, is said to be a kind of an autobiography of the life AW wanted herself.

In Roselily, which is about an unwed African-American woman with 3 children, the name of the man Roselily marries is not even mentioned. That is one of the examples that indicate that AW’s concerns are mainly projected to women. In 1983 Alice received, as the first African-American ever, the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for her book “The Color Purple. ” She had also won other prizes e. g. an American Book Award.

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