Document Type

Research Article

Academic Discipline



The purpose of this article is to analyze the roles gender and race play in relation to trauma in Alice Walker’s novel, The Color Purple. Specifically, the article argues that gender and race are the underlying causes of the violence and trauma experienced by Walker’s female characters, Celie, Sophia, and Squeak. While violence does not always lead to internal conflict, this critical examination looks chiefly at trauma that is derived from violence. As a catalyst for targeted violence, identity categories, in particular female and African American are explored and their roles in oppression are investigated. In doing so, the notion of identity-based marginalization and double discrimination is unpacked. The article denotes the implications of intersectional identities, for example, female and African American, and reveals a startling connection between one’s gender and race and the susceptibility to trauma. The latter acts as a springboard for an analysis of the psychological effects of trauma. This study is rooted in a psychoanalytic framework that constructs the foundation for the argument. More specifically, in support of its argument, the literary criticism delves into the psychology of trauma to help navigate through the characters’ identity experiences and traumatic experiences. Ultimately, in both exposing the connection of gender and race to oppression and trauma as well as unpacking the psychology of trauma, this article illuminates Walker’s literary techniques, narrative structures, use of language, and calculated character dynamics—all of which support and demonstrate the ways in which the female characters’ gender and race are the underlying causes of their traumatization.



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