Cannery Row vs. the Color Purple Steinbeck vs. Walker

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Date Submitted: 05/30/2012 01:00 AM

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“A powerful idea communicates some of its strength to him who challenges it.”[1] Modern novels, such as Alice Walkers ‘The Color Purple’ and John Steinbeck’s ‘Cannery Row’ challenge the ideologies of the time that they were created. ‘Cannery Row’ written by John Steinbeck was completed just after the war had ended, in 1945 and the story is set around the time that the second depression was hitting America, due to the loss of income from mass construction of weapons. Cannery Row tells the tales of the street, its members and their mutual desire to thank Doc with a party. ‘The Color Purple’ is set between the wars in South America, where most African American’s stayed after being liberated from slavery, the novel however was written in the 1980s it is the 1980s ideologies that the novel challenges. The novel follows Celie a young black woman who was born into poverty, patriotism and segregation. Her life was unfortunate, raped by her father, separated by her estranged husband from her beloved sister. Celie is incredibly shy and careful but her world is turned upside down when she meets a woman called Avery, a woman who is in charge of her own life. The ideologies that John Steinbeck and Alice Walker artfully challenge in their novels include: women are irrational and cannot be in charge and coloured people are morally wrong. Specifically in ‘Cannery Row’ we should not help people who are poorer than ourselves. Alice Walker in ‘The Color Purple’ challenges the ideology that men are respectful towards women, she also challenges the idea that women are the dominant ones at home. These novels both successfully challenge the ideologies of the time of writing and in the case of ‘The Color Purple’ it challenges the ideologies of both when it was set and when it was written.

John Steinbeck in ‘Cannery Row’ challenges the ideologies held by many members of the upper class during the 1940s and the 1950s. This ideology is one that still exists today to a lesser extent,...