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The word ‘oppression’ cannot be compartmentalised like other words. Its roots and destination begin from nowhere and end nowhere, thus giving us a range of literal, metaphorical and epistemological meanings to our understanding.3
BothHosseini and Walker explore the societal roots of oppression whilstepitomizing the harsh realities faced by lower-class women bound into draconian societies, containing socio-economical sub-divisions.Politicalautocracy and male despotism arecommon facets of feminist literature, whereby modern novelists explore social problems through acceptable societal decrees, for instance, Hosseini and Walker exaggerate the indisputable power a male possesses over their female protagonists.
This is evident through Walker’s use of declaratives such as “you better not tell nobody but God” after Alphonso rapes Celie, which connotes his uncertainty yet aptitudetowards pre-nuptial molestation, as he later refers her as a “fresh one” whilst describing her to Mister.Alphonso’s callous acts, which Celie claims are merely uncomfortable presents her naivety in full clarity as it seems she is used to the cyclical domestic infliction that sustains throughout her lugubrious existence.
Additionally, bothnovelists explore the consequences faced by female protagonists who challenge the domestic infliction that faces each of them. For instance, Celie’s eventual capability to emancipate herself from oppression can be compared to Hosseini’s depiction of Mariam’s fate, which is expressedin a less liberating way, as she is arrested by the Taliban and stoned to deathwhich follows an ongoing metaphorical idea that in Afghanistan, freedom is merely an illusion that inevitably ends in turmoil. Hosseini displaysthe traditional,Afghan Sharia-bound views regarding feminist liberation, for instance Rasheed’s belief that modern women were a ‘burden’ to their ignorant husbands.
Cities such as Kabul in 1998 were havens for modern Afghans who preferred democratic values to traditional moralities, however Hosseini illustrates Mariam’s place in a traditional society where not everyone agreed with this modern lifestyle.Walker and Hosseini equally explore the muddied waters of the woman’svoice, in which both novelists create female catalysts that fosterconfidence for the protagonists (Shug’s sexual freedomand Laila’s westernized, liberal persona) as well as the masculine aggression that prevails from the male characters as a result to feeling threatened by this female voice. Mister claims that Celie will not be able to “live” without him; the same way Rasheed threatens a murderous act if Laila and Mariam “dare” to act valiant towards him again. Thus, both authors possess the ability of exploring the divisions of oppression whilst emphasising the importance of female freedom- as the protagonists forfeit their safety for an attempt of liberation.Walker imparts knowledge and awareness onto western readers to enable understanding into the struggle that women faced in Afro-American literature and how oppression became an integral aspect for those who, without choice, conventionalised it.
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