ALICE WALKER & MARGE PIERCY
1. Marge Piercy "Woman on the edge of time"
2. Alice Walker "The Color Purple"
Your exam consists of one essays of at least five hundred words and two close readings. Remember that you are not required to perform outside research. In fact I discourage it. I am primarily interested in the your original ideas about the text. I will be looking for signs of your having read in their entirety both novels, which you will have an opportunity to highlight through thoughtful thorough references to texts beyond what I cite in the exam.
Please review corrections and comments on previous essays. Use complete sentences and active voice. Foreground your argument. Place a title at the head of each essay. Cite with parenthetical references to page numbers and a short Works Cited list at then end of the entire exam.
Part One: CLOSE READING (3-4 sentences minimum per answer). Choose two of the following four passages and read every word very closely. Pay attention to diction, figurative language, verb tense, grammatical structure, historical and literary allusions that construct a tradition of writing about women?s sexuality and reproduction. Write 1-3 paragraphs in which you explain: Why is the passage significant? What is going on in the passage and how does it relate to the narrative as a whole? How do characters figure and relate to each other? How does passage relate to other texts that we have read, to issues we have discussed in class? Who is speaking? In what kind of language and with what formal devices does it convey its meaning? USE COMPLETE SENTENCES.
1. ?Dear God,
Shug Avery sit up in bed a little today. I wash and comb out her hair. She got the nottiest, shortest, kinkiest hair I ever saw, and I love every strand of it. The hair that come out in my comb I kept. Maybe one day I?ll get a net, make me a rat to pomp up my own hair.
I work on her like she a doll or like she Olivia?or like she mama. I comba and pat, comb and pat. First she say, hurry up and git finish. Then she melt down a little and lean back gainst my knees. That feels just right, she say. That feel like mama used to do. Or maybe not mama. Maybe grandma. She reach for another cigarette. Start to hum a little tune?(53).
2. ?Anyhow, he say, you know how it is. You ask yourself one question, it lead to fifteen. I start to wonder why us need love. Why us suffer. Why us black. Why us men and women. Where do children really come from. It didn?t take long to realize I didn?t hardly know nothing. And that if you ast yourself why you black or a man or a woman or a bush it don?t mean nothing if you don?t ast why you here, period? (282-283).
3. ?Well, if a person can do something ?important, why should they chop onions and pick caterpillars off tomato plants?
?Connie, we think art is projection. We think making a painting is as real as growing a peach or making diving gear. No more real, no less real. It?s useful and good on a different level, but it?s production. If that?s the work I want to do, I don?t have to pass a test or find a patron. But I still have family duties, political duties, social duties, like every other lug. How not?? (267).
4. ?He had breasts. Not large ones. Small breasts, like a flat-chested woman temporarily swollen with milk. Then with his red beard, his face of a sunburnt fort-five-year-old man, stern-visaged, long-nosed, thin-lipped, he began to nurse. The baby stopped wailing and begun to suck greedily. An expression of serene enjoyment spread over Barbarossa?s intellectual schoolmaster?s face. He let go of the room, of everything, and floated. Her breasts ached with remembrance. She had loved breast-feeding?that deep-down warm milky connection that seemed to start in her womb and spread up through her trunk into her full dark-nippled breasts. Her heavy breasts opened to Angelina?s flower face, the sweet sunflower cradled in her arm. She had been borne on the currents of that intimate sensual connection, calmer, gentler than making love but just as enormous and satisfying. She had nursed Angelina until Eddie had absolutely insisted that she stop; for eight months she had nursed her. Angie had been a fat healthy baby. Only after Eddie had made her stop breast-feeding had Angie turned cranky about eating and become the thin doe-like child of the photographs? (134).
Part Two: Answer one of the following comparative essay questions.
1. Both Luciente and Celie practice and perform their sexuality and their daily lives in a way that incorporates aspects of masculinity and femininity, motherhood and non-reproductivity. Write an essay comparing and contrasting these two figures as vehicles for redemption of their respective societies.
2. In Woman on the Edge of Time, Connie travels back and forth in time in order to see how her actions directly effect the shape of the future. How do Nettie?s letters similarly move Celie across space and time, and enable her to act decisively on her own behalf?
3. In the utopian society of Mattapoisett in 2137, sensual pleasure, enjoyment and diversion derives from eating, dancing, coupling. What kinds of enjoyment make Celie finally also feel either ?happy? or ?content??
4. Among the Olinka, Nettie learns to appreciate similarities among the African ways and her people back home. Compare the practices and performances of blackness in The Color Purple to the vision of a post-racial culture where they had ?broken the bond of race and genes? in Mattapoisett.
ALICE WALKER & MARGE PIERCY