Analysis of the Concept Brought by C. S. Lewis in His Novel Mere Christanity

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In both ‘The White Tiger’ and ‘The Colour Purple’ the protagonists face many forms of external oppression as they battle their own internalised inferiority. Both Alice Walker and Aravind Adiga use the epistolary form to convey this, Walker suggests this format is an outlet for Celie to express her emotions due to the warning at the start given by her ‘Pa’ when he states “You better not never tell nobody but God. It’d kill your mammy.”

This contrasts with Belram as he is writing directly to the Premier’s Office presenting a confident man, however, deluded with regard to his status and class. Similarly, both are writing to a ‘superior’ where no reply is expected, however this only emphasises the differences between the characters. Whilst Celie is writing to God in order to battle her subservience in a patriarchal society, Belram is writing to an ‘actual person’ who is inaccessible which shows why he uses explicit language to introduce the issues of race and class. This demonstrates how Adiga and Walker both create an idiosyncratic voice for the protagonists thorough their different uses of tone.

When Walker addresses the abuse that Celie endures it is a blunt and direct statement to emphasises her youth and naivety, whereas Belram is consistently provocative throughout. This creates a sense of unreliability towards Belram as a narrator due to his highly satirical tone and attempts at impressing the Chinese Premiere. He is also writing in retrospect therefore creating a distance between the reader and character as you are unable to experience the same empathy or relatability.

In contrast the reader experiences all the events with Celie in ‘The Colour Purple’. ~This impression is created through the chronological structure and the diaristic form producing the effect of a truthful account that is written in an autobiographical style.

In The White Tiger, Balram discusses the forced loyalty towards the Indian family. The desire for emancipation and liberation from family is difficult as the extended family means they are unable to assert themselves and exhibit any independence in thought, action, or behaviour. Balram sees this part of Indian life as a burden and believes it prevents him from perusing his individual advancement and freedom. Due to being forced into leaving education in order to pay a debt owed to the ‘Stork’ for paying the dowry of his family members, it reflects how the cultural practices are economically crippling for the poor. Moreover, Kusum tries to marry off Balram to extract a large dowry.

This is again an economic transaction to benefit the powerful members of the family. As the elderly in India are generally obeyed, revered and considered to have wisdom and knowledge, they are treated with respect and dignity by family and community members. Therefore, the initial defiance of Balram when he refuses to send large amounts of his earnings back to the family would be an inconceivable event due to loyalty towards family ties being of the utmost importance. Consequently, Kusum sends emotionally blackmailing letters to Balram in which she threatens to reveal his wrong doings to his master, leading to the outcome of no employment. This family hierarchy means the matriarchal society is maintained.

There are many relevant and interesting parallels between the novels The Color Purple and The White Tiger which become evident through the use of outsider interpretations. Walker depicts a womanist narrative through the use of a protagonist who develops from a position of marginalisation to one of active independence. Similarly, Adiga highlights the corruption of India’s society by reviewing the internal dynamics of a servant from a lower caste and his subsequent rise to a position of master.

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Cultural dominance is discussed in The White Tiger as the symbolic lack of identity of the protagonist highlighting the subordination of his character. Adiga uses the device of changing the protagonist’s name as his circumstances change to indicate his position in society. His initial name of ‘Munna’, literally translated as boy, reflects emotional neglect as his distinctiveness is limited to gender alone.

He first becomes aware of his lack of individuality on beginning his education. When told ‘Munna? That’s not a real name’ he states ‘that’s all I’ve got, sir’ which shows how completely deprived he is of basic personhood. The teacher replaces ‘Munna’ with ‘Balram’ the ‘sidekick’ of the Hindu god ‘Krishna’, with whom the teacher shares his own name. Thus, symbolically Balram is still subordinate.

He then gains the nickname of ‘The White Tiger’ when he distinguishes himself as an ‘intelligent, honest, vivacious fellow’ as it is the ‘rarest of animals that only comes along once in a generation’. However, the only time he encounters a real white tiger is in the zoo so that whilst he may have a new title he can never escape the reality of his identity. Later in the novel, this powerful emblem of his success is discussed again. The taxi business he eventually runs ‘The White Tiger Drivers’ is based on the nickname he got in his younger years. This full-circle narrative reflects his beginnings. Achieving his aim to climb the social ladder he once again changes his name, this time to Ashok Sharma. Taking his late employers name Balram literally changes place with him and eventually becomes a corrupt oppressor himself. This is ironic as he earns his place in society through murder and deceit. Moreover, the murder of Ashok changes Balram’s status however has had no impact on the subordinates that still exist. This is also ironic as the name is similar to one of India’s greatest emperors who reflects great power and respect as a central figure in Indian life; a direct opposite to Balram.

In The Color Purple, there are many forms of physical and psychological violence discussed as the female characters struggle with class and gender oppression. In 1982, Walker published her novel, instigating many debates about black cultural representation. The novel is set in the 20th century American South and the story describes the living conditions of a black poor woman who faces heavy sexism. By depicting gender roles as social constructs, Walker creates a power balance between men and women of how the male norm is seen as dominant and women are therefore submissive. The verbal psychological violence and oppression that women endured during the 20th century are displayed through the protagonist Celie who often faces objectification and suppression. Women described in both The Colour Purple and The White Tiger are often degraded into unintelligent sexual objects.

The violence Mr____ enforces isolates Celie from all contact with relatives, friends, and society, therefore, she lacks both physical and mental support. Celie is the subject of degrading and diminishing verbal abuse by her husband. Moreover, Celie is the victim of numerous sexual abuse encounters. As a woman who is economically dependent on her husband, the patriarchal society is maintained. This creates a feeling of fear and threat in the diminishing relationship she lives within. Also, discussing the importance of beating a wife who does not see her husband as dominant, threatens to maintain the internal subservience ingrained into women.

Likewise, in The Color Purple, the protagonist faces a similar lack of identity as she is depicted as having no personal space. At the beginning of the novel, Celie’s voice is marginalised. Celie gains her emancipation once she becomes independent. She is given a voice as her character develops to challenge the patriarchal oppression as she becomes more secure in the ability to express her opinions. This independence is shown when she gains control over her income. When she develops ‘Folks Pants Unlimited Company’ it symbolises the beginning of her liberation.

The colour purple is also a key symbol of emancipation, combining the calm stability of blue and the fierce energy of red, it connotes ambition, luxury, and power. As a rare occurrence in nature, the colour purple also has sacred meaning. As it is often associated with spirituality and fulfilment it represents the beginning of Celie’s faith in pantheism and when she states “I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.” it represents her deeply ingrained connection to this colour as she begins to gain her emancipation.

This powerful symbol occurs later in the novel when Celie chooses to adorn her pants in red and purple, which shows that Celie is beginning to gain her dignity and identity. As a masculine product, it highlights how Celie is ‘beginning to wear the pants’ as she makes pants for both men and women. Once she possesses her own house she once again decorates with red and purple, reflecting her independence as she can get anything she wants to decorate her room. Her husband, Albert, eventually gifts Celie a purple frog that he has carved himself, challenging the patriarchal society and regaining equality and respect of men and women.

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