Black Women Comparative Book/Poem Study Essay

1299 words - 6 pages

50 years ago black women were not seen as strong and independent. They were seen as subservient and vulnerable people, who were easy to take advantage of and treated disrespectfully. The power of literature challenges our expectations and has the ability to make us question the stereotype. In the novel The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, the novel The Color Purple by Alice Walker, the poem Still I Rise By Maya Angelou and the poem I Am a Black Woman by Mari Evans, we see the authors utilizing the different qualities and characteristics of characters to redefine the stereotypical black women.
The women in The Color Purple are strong characters that use their friendship to overcome the ...view middle of the document...

. . . Matter of fact, I think this is the youngest us ever felt.” In this text we see that the author has given the stereotypical black woman (of that time) companionship that has allowed the character to grow as person and overcome the emotional ties and abuse she experienced. In doing so she has challenged not only the stereotype society had given her but also the stereotype of an abused woman.

As well as a bond of sisterhood, we also see leadership qualities in The Secret Life of Bees. “Honeybees depend not only on physical contact with the colony, but also require its social companionship and support. Isolate a honeybee from her sisters and she will soon die.” As in August’s community, female bees control the beehive and the queen bee rules over everything. The queen bee is the mother and leader of every single other bee, just as, according to August, the Virgin Mary is the mother and leader of all the women she is close to, whom she calls the Daughters of Mary. The other bees depend on the queen bee to provide offspring to keep the bee hive running. The Virgin Mary provides strength and support for the Daughters to believe in. Because the beehive is a very sensitive organism, the bees have developed many mechanisms to protect their home. Likewise, August and her community have certain rituals including prayer, celebration, and mourning that help keep the members healthy and strong. It is in this community that Rosaleen and Lily learn that through the bond of sisterhood strength and happiness can be found. But unlike Celie in The Color Purple, the sisters have not come from dependent and abusive backgrounds. “August had said she owned twenty-eight acres left to her by her granddaddy” they inherited the land and started a bee farm, therefore earning their own income. Sue Monk Kidd uses the symbol of a queen bee to redefine the stereotype of black women as leaders. She does this by using the beehive as a symbolic parallel to the community August has created in her pink house.
In the poem Still I Rise, we see Maya Angelou present herself as the speaker and ‘Queen Bee’. She is speaking to her audience of oppressors about how she has overcome racism, criticism, sexism, and personal obstacles in her life with pride and grace, confident that she is a strong black woman. We see that she is proud of who she is and she knows she is of value and is worth digging deeper for. This is shown in the similies; “Cause I’ve got oil wells pumping in my living room” and “Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines diggin’ in my backyard’. These lines represent the wealth that is buried underneath the ground like the wealth that is...

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