The White Girl's Game of House

Based on “The Color Purple” by Alice Walker. As extra work for English, my teacher set the task of writing a short story and analysis of that story as based on a novel that I’ve read. This, funnily enough, was the result. Written as a series of letters to God in Georgia in the 1930s, this loose adaptation of the novel takes much of the same themes and considering that this is the first time I’ve tried writing in this style, any pointers would be very helpful. Also, I put this under historical fiction even though it is technically fan fiction as I didn’t really want it swamped by all the One Direction stories under that category.

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2. Analysis

 

In Alice Walker’s ‘The Color Purple’, a central and pivotal point of the story is that the main character, once beaten and raped at the hands of her Pa, is forbidden to “not never tell nobody but God” about what he does to her, the child’s scathed palms and the swell of her stomach beneath her summer dress. In the most literal interpretation of his threat, by the same scathed palms she writes to God, letters saying about the way her father takes the products of the swells of her stomach with either the intention to kill them or give them away; his continual abuse; her marrying off to the arms of another man who treats her with the same loveless contempt as the first in her life. But at the very least she has someone to confide in, the eternal presence of God who she can talk to freely, which is something I wanted to convey in my story. She writes to God because she has no-one else; she writes to him to alleviate what she feels, even if their relationship is one which she finds muddled and confused. She asks him why, why? Over and over, she talks to him and yet that is all it seems to be, the one-sidedness, the idea that she must talk to him and not with him because he never replies. At times, she needs not his intervention, just someone to whom she can vent her fears; at others, she openly seeks his guidance, she wants him to acknowledge that she is there, she lives, she breathes, and she needs help which he does not seem ready to give to her. I tried to show this through the way she seems to be telling him of what has happened early on, when her baby dies, and then later becomes frustrated with this distant illusion of a God who she keeps reaching out to though he pushes her away. But, also, in the way towards the end when she speaks of the fields being purple and that she forgives him, this is his salvation in a way, his infuriating lack of presence but also the fact, the realisation, almost, that he is actually all around us, and that he hears what she says, regardless of how convinced she becomes of the contrary.

 

For God to be a man is something that stifles the relationship as well, with the main character’s past concerning men never hinting a very healthy view of the gender as a whole, regarding the beating and abuse as an indication of males in general, her wrapping the baby in a quilt most probably made by the unity of women and for the negative portrayal of men to colour her whole outlook of them.

 

The accent is also a main aspect of the book on which the story is based. The book is written in the vernacular in which Southern black people were likely to have spoken, creating almost a more personal insight if the characters speak realistically and it is uncensored in terms of language, slang and the 30s drawl of Georgia making it more human, fleshing out the story in a way that more formal use of language would be stilted to do. I wanted to show this in my story, as well as the life depicted in the novel, the darkness of domestic abuse and the undercurrent of racial tension that would obviously have beaten through much of the characters’ lives. In showing God as a white man, which is something also referred to in the novel, this naturally inhibits the main character’s freeness with him as well, the reserved respect and yet the lining resentment for the ‘superior race’. The white girl’s game of House was something I’d had included also, paralleling the white and the black, the lives of both played against each other to show the differences between them. Darling little white girl plays with dolls while little black girl cares for young infants in their soiled cots. White girl can play frivolously while the black girl must work and be punished for doing so, the lash of the belt hot on her back. For the white girl to be able to play House while the black girl’s dead babies rot in the ground is a strong mental image I thought was necessary to include.

 

And yet, as she says, at least the fields are purple.

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