Many years ago, people believed that women did not have the right to express their ideas and feelings. These people thought that women were born just to get married and become mothers, and if they considered going to school they were often punished by society. At that time, women were not allowed to go to school or to have a job because they had to be in charge of the house. At home, women had not only to take care of their children but also they had to satisfy their husbands, take care of the old and sick members of the family and do the housework. Something very important that we have to consider is that in those times the families did not have just one or two children, but six or seven. This made it even more difficult for them. Women of that time were discriminated against socially. They did not have the same opportunities as men. Women could not have important jobs, and if they had, they did not receive the same treatment and salaries as men. Women were the worst paid and the most exploited. Women had always a secondary role in the family and society.
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Fortunately now, the situation has changed and society has established more rights for the protection of the women. However, there are still some places where people continue to have the negative beliefs about keeping women always at home. Nowadays, women have rebelled against those who think they are just an object that can be bought and sold. Most of them are not afraid to fight for their rights anymore, they are now allowed to do everything they want; they can work, they can express their opinions, they can attend school, and they can even vote and have important jobs in our society. In our new society, women can have as important jobs as men. For example, in Germany, the citizens have a woman as president because now society supports them and believes in them.
In this paper, the two stories that I am going to analyse are In The Time of the Butterflies written by Julia Alvarez and The Color Purple written by Alice Walker. My essay is going to focus on the role of the main women in each story. Celie, Nettie, Sofia and the Mirabal sisters. The reason I decided to talk about this topic is because even though I am a man, I think women should receive the same treatment and opportunities as us, men. And also because it is very important to know that women have an important and essential role not only at home but also in labour lives.
In The Time of the Butterflies is a story that talks about the lives of the Mirabal family, especially of the Mirabal sisters. This story takes place in the Dominican Republic where each Mirabal sister narrates the story according to her point of view. The Mirabal sisters called Patria, Minerva, Dedé and Maria Teresa. These women were involved in a movement against Trujillo, who at that time governed the Dominican Republic. This man was an oppressor and he governed the nation in a brutal and cruel way. This movement against Trujillo shows the Mirabal sisters as strong women, women who fought for their rights and who gave their lives in order to get the treatment any woman deserved.
On the other hand, The Color Purple is a story about violence, oppression and discrimination against women. Celie, a little black girl, is raped by her stepfather many times. She had two babies by him. Celie receives discrimination from white people, who treat black people as animals or, at best, as servants. Celie is given to Mr Black by her stepfather. Mr Black forces Celie to have sexual relations with him. He beats her. The babies Celie has had from her stepfather have been taken away from her. Celie is just fourteen years old, but she has now to take care of Mr Black’s children. Celie knows nothing about love because she has never experienced that feeling. She has just received beating and oppression from everyone. Mr Black has a son, Harpo, who marries to Sofia. Harpo humiliates and hits Sofia. But he gets a huge surprise; Sofia will not allow it. Sofia is a strong and independent woman who fights for her rights. Nettie, Celie´s sister, is discriminated against as well.
As we see, these two stories have many things in common, and one of the most important is the role that women play in each novel. In The Time of the Butterflies, the Mirabal sisters grew up in an upper class because their father was a businessman. The Mirabal sisters were very close and they were expected to get married and to have babies, and that is what they did. The Mirabal sisters supported each other in any decision they made. Here we can find a clear similarity with The Color Purple; it is because in this novel the sisters Celie and Nettie were always very close as well. Even though these sisters were separated from each other, they were together their thoughts. Another similarity between these two stories is that in both novels women have very traditional roles. For example, in The Color Purple when Celie is taken to Mr BlackÂ´s house, she has to take care of the children, do the housework and satisfy Mr Black. She has to do everything Mr Black wants; she was even forced to have sexual relations. Celie was hit by Mr Black and she received a terrible treatment. Even though Celie was just fourteen years old Mr Black did not allow her to attend school. Women at that time were expected to get married and become mothers and going to school did not make any sense at all. It is another similarity with In The Time of the Butterflies, people also thought that women should stay at home with the children.
A clear difference between these women is that in The Color Purple Celie, the protagonist of the novel, and her sister Nettie, did not have the opportunity of attending school. They were poor and they did not have someone who could support them. On the other hand, In The Time of the Butterflies, the Mirabal sisters, Patria, Dedé, Maria Teresa and Minerva had the opportunity to study because their father, Don Enrique Mirabal, earned enough money to send them to school. However, these sisters suffered too, but in a different way. The Mirabal sisters suffered because of Trujillo. Trujillo was the government of Dominican Republic at that time. He was an oppressor and his dictatorship was brutal. Trujillo used to treat women as objects, he could have any woman he wanted because he had the power. Here, we have another similarity with The Color Purple, in this novel Mr Black was an oppressor and a dictator too. He forces Celie to do things she did not want to do. However, Celie had to obey him, and she did not have the opportunity to say what she really thought. Mr Black had Celie as a servant in his house while he spent time with Shug Avery, a woman who Mr. Black loved. That’s why Trujillo and Mr Black have many things in common. Both were “machinists”.
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In The Color Purple we have Sofia, character who for me is the strongest woman in the novel. Sofia married Harpo, Mr. BlackÂ´s son. Harpo wants to treat Sofia, his wife; of the same manner, his father treats Celie. However, Sofia is a very intelligent woman and she does not allow it. On the contrary, Sofia takes control of the house and she does not allow herself to be insulted by anybody. She confronts even the white community, this community treated blacks as animals, but Sofia rebelled against that and she fought for her freedom. Unfortunately, she was taken to jail because she hits and insults a very important white man in the town. The similarity with In The Time of the Butterflies is that Sofia has the same courage that Minerva, one of the Mirabal sisters. For me, Minerva was also the bravest and strongest woman in this novel. I think these two women are similar. They have the same purpose in fighting; they wanted freedom for themselves and for their families. These two women did not really care if they lost their freedom in order to get their fights. Minerva Mirabal gave her life in order to have a better country and Sofia, from The Color Purple, lost her freedom in order to get a better treatment for her family and for the black community.
Another similarity I found is that in each novel there is one woman who narrates or tells her story through writings. For example, in In The Time of the Butterflies Dedé narrates her story through a diary, in which she wrote all that happened to her. On the other hand, In The Color Purple Celie tells her story through letters to God. In these papers, Celi and Dedè could write all their thought and all those things they could not say in front of people. In these papers, they expressed all they felt. And I could say that these papers were like a person they could talk to.
In conclusion, I can say that these two stories made me think about the life I want for my daughters in a future. In these novels there was much tragedy but they showed me the value people should give to the women. I personally believe that all women have to have the same opportunities. The society should not distinguish between black and white women, because they are all equals. Consequently, they have to be treated in the same manner as the society treats men. Women have the same and even more capacity as men and sometimes they are stronger. Women have the power to sacrifice her life in order to save their relatives not matter what. The difference between genders is just an obstacle created by the human mind.
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