‘For a long time, I thought I was very ugly and disfigured,’ says Alice Walker. ‘This made me shy and timid, and I often reacted to insults that were not intended’
8-year-old Alice Walker was playing with her brothers. The pellet from the toy-gun, hit her in the eye and injured her. She was taken to the hospital a week later by then it was too late and she had been blinded in the eye. The scab that formed on the injured eye made her feel ugly and grotesque, ‘For a long time, I thought I was very ugly and disfigured,’ says Alice Walker. ‘This made me shy and timid, and I often reacted to insults that were not intended.’ Though she continued studying, she grew reclusive withdrawn and introverted, finding comfort in reading and writing. Six years later the scab on her eye was surgically removed and she went on to graduate with honors and to be selected as class valedictorian at the graduation ceremony. By this time she was already writing poetry; she continued writing adding essays and novels to her list of published works. Her third novel, The Color Purple, won the Pulitzer prize for Fiction and the National Book Award for Fiction in 1983. The novel was turned into a film by Steven Spielberg anad was nominated for 11 Academy Awards.
Walker is a versatile and sensitive writer. Probably her most exciting concept is the introduction of the use of the phrase ‘womanist’ that has come to be a very meaningful term in literature. Literary and philosophical writers; including theologians have expanded on the use of the lexical term to describe a person who speaks up and speaks out and speaks against and in defense of something important, something that matters because it is creating an injustice. The phrase is reserved especially for women, mainly black women who love themselves and their culture and are hell-bent on surviving and moving out of the life they have spent as underdogs of society.
Alice Walker is well-educated, having studied at both SpelmanCollege and SarahLawrenceCollege. Aside from her literary works, she is described as an activist – she has actively supported causes and been part of a number of anti-oppression movements. She has picketed the White House, encouraged African Americans to vote; opposed and denounced genital mutilation of females in the Middle East. Moreover, she has stood up for Cubans and spoken up against the tightening of the American blockade of Cuba. The Gulf War was another misadventure she has strongly opposed and denounced.
Walker has used her writing for creating a vast sense of awareness about global issues today. She supports earth movements because she feels that planet Earth is being misused and plundered. Her support of Earth movements is probably the outcome of her awareness when she realized that she would not be able to see the world in its entirety and she developed a love for it that could not be quelled. She strongly condemns the way we treat Earth. She says, ‘Earth itself has become the nigger of the world.’ and predicts that if we continue to treat Earth ‘like dirt’ we will also be reduced to a state worse than dirt.
Versatile and talented, unafraid, bold and brazen is how Alice Walker can be described. She espouses ‘rights’ and can therefore be considered a spiritualist because she condemns all kind of wrongs against all kinds of people.