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In the literary material, it is through the first person narrative, that Walker adopts, that foregrounds the significance of religion and spiritual and therefore enhancing one’s identity. Religion and spirituality are inextricably linked and both relevant to the journey’s taken by both Celie and Nettie. However, it is also arguably limited, due to the fact that religion in the recalled society utilises such theology as a repressive instrument in order to create and instil a philosophy whereby women are deemed as inferior and should remain submissive to the men of society.
Historically, this is embedded in Christian scripture, whereby these beliefs are titled ‘Biblical Patriarchy’, there seems to be a proliferation of these teachings within the novel. Perhaps it is also principal to discover the manners in which religion could likewise constrain character. Celie discovers refuge within God, it is through spirituality that she can maintain a sense of strength and oneness. By addressing her letters to “Dear God”, emphasises that God is the only being Celie trusts, as she feels as though there is nobody else she can confide in.
It is the vision of God, encapsulated by Walker, that enables Celie to survive. The finalisation is addressed “Dear God. Dear stars, dear trees, dear sky, dear people. Dear Everything. Dear God”, highlights that she sees God a part of everything, as an omnipotent being she believes this is possible. The use of the fronting “dear” enhances the affection and compassion Celie possesses, alongside the references to nature highlighting her appreciation.
Syntactically, the listing of nature represents what she believes God is a part of, further emphasising that God is within everything that surrounds her. Additionally, by placing ‘dear people’ at the end of the list, this construction of syntax puts emphasis upon the significance of people.
In Martin Luther King’s letters, the lexical and semantics used resonate with Christian theology; “I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the eighth-century prophets left· so I am compelled to carry the gospel to freedom beyond my particular hometown”. King hints his ‘prophetic’ role in the in the objective of eradicating social injustices. The allusions of biblical passages are critical to consider as they reveal to us the elements of religion. It is Bernhard W. Anderson who describes and highlights the core of the prophetic role, which he gathers as showing to be both religious and political, clearly aligning with the words and actions of Martin Luther King himself. The allusion to ‘the eighth-century prophets’, are in fact, what W. Anderson revised in his research. In regards to allusions, King uses a proliferation, to relate to his audience and highlight the significance, and by using religion as a means of gaining listeners enabled him to. His reference to ‘Socrates’, stating that “Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that· objective appraisal· help men to rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism”, metaphorically, the alliterated “dark depths” uncovers the disastrous events of the time, that he urged to revolutionise. The personified “help men to rise”, creates a sense of faith and hope, which King was desperate to spread, by enabling men to rise, they would be able to overcome the obstacles that were ‘prejudice and racism’, the particular choice of the verb ‘rise’ can be seen as pertaining to a deity. As we know ‘Socrates practiced civil disobedience’, perhaps reinstating that civil obedience is synonymous with the idea of civil disobedience, this in fact is a juxtaposition as it is unusual to deem disobedience as somewhat civil. Also, suggesting the similarity between both individuals in term of their refusal to conform to the norms of society at the time.
To determine whether the the form of a letter is a contributing factor to the ability to express a power of voice or a limiting factor, it is important to grasp the concept. It can be argued that Walker’s epistolary nature creates a fragmented structure, reflecting the emotions of psychological damage. What is also important is the content of these letter, through Walker’s implementation of the chosen Black English style of writing, aforementioned, leads us to spend time to truly understand many phrases, as well as steadying the pace of the novel. It is also clear that the chosen semantics accentuates the mass number of people unable to write at a standard level. The brutish informality of Alphonso telling her to “shut up and git used to it”, accompanied by her “But I don’t never git used to it”, the preposition stands as an attempt to dismantle the current situation. More importantly, what is common in Celie’s language is the double negation, here, evident as “don’t never”, this emphasises somewhat a warning, through expressing her adamancy.
King’s form of a letter enables him to express his voice and opinions to the audience, the primary audience being the clergymen and the secondary being the Black Americans. As letters based on the agony and hopelessness of ‘coloured people’, King seems to be attempting to create a solid argument through his letters, as his only means of communication at this particular time.
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