Thesis: Ntozake Shange uses her choreopoem to exemplify the battles of working category black adult females within the context of the African Diaspora in the United States. The feminism of this verse form exposes the natural torments, defeats and hopes of the working category black adult females.

Introduction: Tyler Perry ‘s film, “ Colored Girls ” is based on the award winning choreopoem by Ntozake Shange.

Ntozake Shange wrote this experimental work of art which she called a chorepoem.

Movie mogul Tyler Perry reopen s contention by doing a movie version of this work.

The book continues to dispute traditional beliefs about race, category, and gender

Shange exposes the natural feelings of African American adult females in their ain voice.

Shange breaks all the regulations of grammar, spelling, and enunciation in her work.

Shange uses non-standard English to render the characters voices genuinely.

Shange ‘s work is excessively rich and complex to be explained in a short analytical paper.

The paper, hence, focal points on three rhythms of verse forms contained in the work.

The subjects discussed are agony, defeat, and hope as portrayed by her characters.

Lady in Brown

First Poem ( p. 3 ) . This inaugural verse form introduces the subject of a stolen maidenhood. A cardinal subject in all of the verse form is the larceny of artlessness by the ferociousness of a racialist patriarchal society.

Second Poem ( pp.25-30 ) . The lady in Brown recounts a childhood in segregated America. Her passion for equality leads her to encompass a historical figure, who leads her into the weaponries of her first love.

Lady in Yellow

First Poem ( pp. 7-10 ) . The lady in xanthous loses her virginity to one of three cousins who ” escorted ” her after graduation celebrations. She loses her virginity in the back place of a Buick. The loss of Virginity becomes symbolic for the ego which is damaged or destroyed.

Second Poem ( p.45 ) . The lady in xanthous experiences the consequences of her mindless gender. Her love is thrown back in her face.

Lady in Orange

First Poem ( pp.14-15 ) . The lady in orangish trades with the power of the female organic structure to be itself. The organic structure ‘s demand to show itself with vocals, with feeling, and motion.

Second Poem ( p.16 ) . In her 2nd verse form, she once more exalts the power of dance. This is a Diasporic distinctive feature.

Third Poem ( 42-43 ) . In this 3rd verse form, the Lady in orange provides the assessment of the outside universe of the black ( colored ) adult female. She is demeaned into a irrelevancy.

Decision: The verse forms are tormented renditions of the black experience, as seen through the eyes of black adult females who portion their altogethers unvarnished lives. The hope is found in the divinity of the goddess. The goddess who resides within the nucleus of each adult female. When she is embraced, she heals the ego and affirms the rainbow. Each sister is portion of the rainbow and provides the “ enuf ” . The sistership is greater than the anguish of dead babes, the cicatrixs of abortion, the letdown of relationship, and the ferociousness of colza. Sisterhood is the church of the Goddess. The sistership is seen in the duologue between the adult females in its nicety and its honestness. Each adult female in her ain typical manner forms a rainbow, the ultimate symbol of hope. The rainbow symbol is every bit old as the bible. Shange creates a rainbow comforter with each adult female organizing a yarn in the comforter. A colourful comforter of ruddy, green, violet, bluish, orange, xanthous, and brown togss.

Tyler Perry ‘s film, “ Colored Girls ” is based on the award winning choreopoem by Ntozake Shange. ( Shange, Colored Girls ) This film has led to a redirect examination of Shange ‘s original work entitled, For Colored Girls who have considered self-destruction when the rainbow. Shange created a splash among poets, critics, bookmans and militants likewise. For African Americans of the current coevals, Ntozake Shange ‘s poesy is portion of the literary tradition of their parents. Why would at that place be such strong feelings environing a film based upon a chorepoem which was published and performed in 1975? Why is it still of involvement to the pupils of today? The contention environing Perry ‘s film throws a limelight on the original work. This paper seeks to understand why Shange has such a powerful influence on authors of her coevals, every bit good as authors of today. It is fascinating that Shange ‘s first work is still act uponing authors like Toni Morison and Sapphire. Shange is seen as a trail sport jacket, a author who breaks all of the tabu and nowadayss herself and her art in a strictly natural manner. Her work is ground breakage, because it is written by and for black adult females. ( Clark 94-120 ) It ne’er excludes black work forces, but it forces them to see the universe through different eyes. This small book, which was picked on by Joseph Papp as a preliminary to Broadway production, continues to hold ripple effects as it impacts the universe of thoughts. ( Shange, For Colore Girls who have Considere Suicide when the Rainbow is Enuf ix-xvi ) Her poesy is still fresh and her penetration is still acute. Shange manages to populate up to the testimonial paid her by Sapphire, “ If there are shoulders modern African American adult females ‘s literature stands upon they belong to Ntozake Shange, who revolutionized theater and literature with her iconic work. . . Any of us composing today are heirs of her mastermind. ” This is high congratulations from one originative individual to another. ( Shange, Colored Girls )

Shange ‘s chef-d’oeuvre is excessively complex to research with great item in a work the length of this paper. However, a brief scrutiny of three sets of verse forms from this book will explicate why this writer ‘s musical composition remains relevant to today ‘s audience. To get down a treatment of the work, one has to get down with the inability to put the work into a genre. The work is theatrical, but is non a drama. There are nameless characters who are identified by the colour of the frock that they wear on phase. The work is lyrical ; each character speaks in a rhythm of verse forms, which slackly suggest duologue. The production is intended to hold music and dance as incorporate constituents of the work. ( Clark 3 )

The writer creates a distinguishable genre for her work, which she calls a choreopoem. In making this genre she fuses the musical elements of the choir, found in the black church. This choir has the literary elements of dramatic poesy every bit good as a intimation of the classical Greek chorus. In this manner her choreopoem is genuinely African American in signifier. The verse forms are evocative of the great poetic tradition of Walt Whitman and Emily Dickenson, every bit good as African American coevalss such as Amiri Baraka or Sonja Sanchez. Shange, an Ivy League alumnus, ne’er seems to pall of classical analogues to African American life. The choir/chorus is a great illustration of how Shange fuses the classical component with the African American component. ( Clark 95-96 ) No African American church is complete without a choir ; no Attic play is complete without a chorus. The usage of masks is another characteristic of Attic play that Shange, with her unidentified ladies, has once more incorporated a classical component into this really African American work. Her masks hides individuality and reveals the characters of the drama. In coloured misss, the ladies wear coloured frocks to show character, which obscures the individuality of the adult female behind the frock. Rather than utilizing a mask to exhibit temper and character, Shange is able to convey temper and character by agencies of colour and cloth, which is a really African American wont. In a more traditional manner, Lorraine Hansberry expresses character and temper by the apparels worn by the female characters in A Raisin in the Sun. Three coevalss of African American adult females are distinguished by the manner they dress. As Mama says in a different context in the drama, the frock she wears “ expresses me ” .

Capitalization, spelling, grammar, and use are all nonstandard. She spells adequate as enuf in the rubric of her work and she finds chances to experiment with the proficient elements of composing throughout her choreopoem. Shange ‘s reformatting of the English linguistic communication allows her to get away from the narrow confines of Euro moderatism. She aspires to make a genuinely Africanized rhetoric. Her rhetoric besides escapes the confines of the male dominated linguistic communication. She has sentences which are as chopped up as the lives of the ladies. She has shown the same neglect for construction that 1 might anticipate to happen in a suicide note. The choreopoem is beautiful and lyrical ; nevertheless, it is a syntactician ‘s incubus. ( Shange, For Colore Girls who have Considere Suicide when the Rainbow is Enuf ) It is known that the writer attempted suicide several times while at Barnard College, she seems to hold made efforts until she herself discovered that the rainbow is enuf. ( Appiah 1699 ) If this work is an drawn-out self-destruction note, it is one which was intended to be found. Once found, the coloured miss who wrote it can have proper intervention and travel on with her life. The coloured miss who wrote this choreopoem made the passage to black muliebrity and continues to compose poesy. Shange appears to utilize the choreopoem as a agency of self revelation ; she does this in much the same manner that Maya Angelou uses the autobiographical format to self unwrap. Whereas, Angelou writes long elaborate prose, Shange uses condensed poesy to show herself.

Not merely is Shange ‘s work controversial in format, the work is controversial in content. Her reviews of the Black Nationalism of the sixtiess and 1970s as destructively patriarchal in substance and construction. Organizations like the Black Panther Party were ill-famed for their male hierarchies, which promoted a gun toting, testosterone fueled ethos that ignored the sustaining parts of the of all time enduring “ sisters ” . ( Wikipedia ) Shange refused to accept the degrading inequality endured by adult females like Elaine Brown, Erica Huggins, Angela Davis and Betty van Patter. Refusing to accept the ferociousness and marginalisation of black adult females as a “ forfeit ” for the “ battle ” Shange undertakings the agonised hurting of black adult female on to the consciousness of her audience. While reviewing the jingoism of the black adult male in relationship to the black adult female, Shange issues an every bit barbed review of white feminism. She takes feminism from the schoolroom and respectable salons of Middle America to the barbarous streets of Urban America. Here the working category black adult female forges her individuality as portion of a huge and colourful sistership. Research reveals that the original version of the choreopoem, which was published by an independent publishing house, was called the Shameless Hussy Press. ( Clark 94,100 )

In a recent debut to the updated version of the choreopoem, Shange explains how her book was a more inclusive papers. ( Shange, Colored Girls ) The rubric of Shange ‘s choreopoem is in fact her thesis, “ For Colored Girls who have considered self-destruction when the rainbow is enuf ” . The rubric of the book demands acknowledgment. The work was non written for African American adult females, or black adult females or Negro adult females, but for coloured misss. In the rubric, she exposes the dehumanisation of the black adult female. Black adult females are frequently demeaned by such names as miss or gal, no affair the age or station in life. ( Shange, Colored Girls ) For if the black adult male is everlastingly “ male child ” , as Dr. King said in his missive from the Birmingham Jail, so the black adult female is everlastingly “ girl ” in the seeing the white universe. The usage of the footings “ miss ” or “ lady ” are dry reminders of how that universe sees them every bit good every bit good as the “ mystique ” which was denied them. The oppressing disaffection of her life brings the coloured miss to the point of self-destruction. The emphasis and strain of being female parent, girl, sister, married woman, lover, whore, saint, militant worker, housewife, instructor, goddess, etc. forces the coloured miss to see self-destruction. When this beleaguered heroine expressions around, she discovers that the rainbow is enuf. That colourful rainbow of coloured misss is enuf, the sistership is enuf. The rainbow is enuf. The choreopoem identifies the character as ladies. This is once more more contention! Why are the characters identified as ladies of assorted colourss? Possibly these unidentified characters reflect the manner black adult females are seen by the universe as simple unidentified persons. Or the unidentified adult female who bares your kids or the unidentified lady whose kids are hanging out of the five narrative brownstone. These unidentified ladies are dignified with the omnipresent honorific, “ lady ” .

The first set of verse forms examined is those spoken by the lady in brown. The lady in brown is the first character to talk. This makes her the unofficial interpreter for the sistership of the rainbow. She introduces the audience to the injury of the “ colored miss ‘s ” being. The lady in brown is non familiar with the feminine mystique of white feminism. Her feminism is non based upon books read or the trendiness of feminist authors such as Gloria Stienem, Betty Friedan or Simone de Beauvoir. This is non a feminism of Martinis and Daiquiris, but a feminism of “ dancing on beer tins and herpes zosters ” . ( Shange, For Colore Girls who have Considere Suicide when the Rainbow is Enuf 3 ) the lady in brown ‘s initial poetic soliloquy trades with life as a dance under impossible fortunes. The lady in brown utters the blues, reiterated by the other ladies throughout the choreopoem. Her blues reflects the loss of artlessness, which reflects as interpreter for the group. The lady in brown introduces the cardinal subject of loss of artlessness, stolen in every bit many ways as there are adult females in the rainbow. She besides identifies the stealer as a racialist, patriarchal society. She lives in a society that will non esteem her, nor honor the artlessness that all misss are entitled to. ( Shange, For Colore Girls who have Considere Suicide when the Rainbow is Enuf 3 )

The lady in brown ‘s find of Toussaint Louverture is symbolic of the yearning that the coloured miss has for a powerful mythic defender. She needs a defender who will protect her artlessness and authorise her personhood. Toussaint, with all of his mythic power, could non protect one colored miss from being disqualified for reading about him. Her reading about him at one time took her further than the Jim Crow universe of St. Louis would let. At the same minute her reading about him introduced her to the world of that destructive racial world. The world of coloured miss is a world which possesses so many other ways of stealing her artlessness. The mythic gives manner to the existent, as the lady in brown is introduced to Toussaint Jones. Jones gives her what Toussaint L’Oveture could non. ( Shange, For Colore Girls who have Considere Suicide when the Rainbow is Enuf 25-30 ) However, in making so he took every trace of artlessness. As is stated subsequently in the book, “ he took her material ” .

One can non disregard that this subdivision of the choreopoem is a hushed court to 1955. This was the twelvemonth that the Supreme Court ended segregation in schools, Emmet Till was butchered in Mississippi, Rosa Parks was expelled from a coach in Birmingham, and Paulette Williams integrated an simple school in St. Louis, Missouri. No wander the lady in brown concludes that, “ 1955 was non a good twelvemonth for lil blk misss. ” ( Shange, For Colore Girls who have Considere Suicide when the Rainbow is Enuf )

The loss of virginity is a cardinal component in the choreopoem. Loss of virginity is the room access to adulthood. Its loss appears an of import factor in the defining of the feminine individuality. Shange uses the lady in yellow to show the significance of this loss. It is juxtaposed with the American rite of go toing a graduation party. The party described in the choreopoem begins as a strident jubilation and descends into a seamy speculation upon the find of maturity. For the coloured miss, simple life events are unsafe and can bewray artlessness. Childhood friends can besides be a beginning of treachery. The deepest enigma and greatest surprise of all is that one ‘s ain organic structure can bewray you. The organic structure betrays the coloured miss by giving to feelings non felt before. In the confusion of the minute, our lady in yellow does non cognize which of the three suers really “ takes her material ” for the first clip. The readers is left to inquire if more than one of these cousins has his manner with her or if all of them have her. On page 45 the lady in yellow is ruminating about the many work forces who have come her manner. She seems to hold one lover in head who has danced with her, but has non danced her dance. A lover who sings with her, but ne’er sings her vocal. ( Clark 109 ) Her avidity to love is devalued and rejected. This creates the metaphysical quandary. The lady in yellow is left with metaphysics. Metaphysics is the survey of being and the universe that one lives. It is dry that this full work trades with a womanist effort at metaphysics. Metaphysicss efforts to understand the universe that rejects colored misss and leads the coloured miss to see self-destruction. It is a metaphysic similar to what Virginia Wolf contemplated. There is sarcasm in the fact that the coloured miss has little in common with Ms. Wolf or the work forces who dominate metaphysics. These white people fashioned a metaphysics which demeaned adult females and ignored the really being of coloured misss. The lady in xanthous confesses, “ I have n’t conquered yet ” . ( Shange, For Colore Girls who have Considere Suicide when the Rainbow is Enuf ) The quandary is simple, does she go on on the way of fleeting pleasance and let my love to be treated with scorn or does she take the route which leads to self avowal? She concludes that, “ my love is excessively delicate to hold thrown back on my face. ”

The lady in orange is surely Shange ‘s court to Walt Whitman. One can about hear the lady in orange, “ sing the organic structure electric ” ( Shange, For Colore Girls who have Considere Suicide when the Rainbow is Enuf 42 ) as she abandons words for tunes and dance. Her organic structure is non limited to black music or dance, but it yearns for a diasporic experience. Merely as the pre-Broadway version of the choreopoem included all adult females of colour, irrespective of beginning. The lady in orange entreaties to the diaspora in her dance and vocal. Surely the coloured miss phenomenon is non merely an African American job, but a diasporic job. The coloured miss is a job which all members of the African Diaspora must cover with. Shange ‘s rainbow is broad plenty to embrace all colourss of the rainbow. ( Clark 100 ) This rainbow accepts Spanish, English, French or Dutch talkers, it does non know apart. It accepts Swahlli, Kwazulu or Bantu it sees no differentiation. The rainbow takes up calls out of the tired and huddled multitudes of the African Diaspora. The adult females who have been used and abused by the system or the work forces who will non or can non accept the love of a coloured miss. ( Shange, For Colore Girls who have Considere Suicide when the Rainbow is Enuf )

The lady in orange comes to the realisation that she is no more than a Cassandra, a prophetess without an audience. No 1 will listen to her beautiful music or dance her captivating dance or sing her alluring vocal. The lady in orange attempts to deny the ineluctable world of being a colored miss. She was born prepackaged as this, “ . .aˆ¦evil adult female, a bitch, or a scold. ” Her realisation is no less metaphysical than the lady in yellow. The imagination is blunt, depicting her relationship with her perennial lover as, “ being in the underside of year shoe. ” She realizes that her predicament is excess. The predicament of the coloured miss is excess. Redundancy with its ne’er stoping hurting and sorrow is the being of the coloured miss. It is non surprising that she considers suicide. She is Sisyphus, everlastingly doomed to a life of forcing her love up the steep hill of take downing non-acceptance, merely to hold that love axial rotation back down in her face. She could non digest the take downing irrelevancy of such an being. In the myth, Sisyphus is smarter than anyone else, even the Gods. ( Wikipedia ) However, in the terminal his inventiveness dooms him to ageless defeat. The lady in yellow is smart, she has much to offer, but she ever finds herself in a frustrating relationship where the other individual receives the benefits and she is no more than gum under his pess. She scrapes herself off merely to happen herself under pes once more. Unlike Sisyphus, the Lady in orange can interrupt free. She can grate herself off and travel on to a freedom which Sisyphus can ne’er cognize. He can ne’er interrupt, free no affair what he does. The lady in orange can get away, for she has the rainbow which is her path of flight. Sisyphus is a reminder that being entirely is a losing scheme. ( Shange, For Colore Girls who have Considere Suicide when the Rainbow is Enuf 42-43 ) With all of his glare, Sisyphus ne’er works with others. He attempts to work out his jobs entirely. Furthermore, the coloured miss is a lone wolf, who feels powerful plenty to decide her jobs by herself. However, the power for flight and avowal prevarications in integrity with others who have similar strivings, adversities, and jobs. In integrity she finds strength and power to get the better of. Colored misss are entirely and adrift, black adult females are powerful and free. The ladies can overcome whatever hill they must mount. Without integrity the coloured miss is doomed to defeat and torment as she climbs the hills and mountains of life entirely. ( Shange, For Colore Girls who have Considere Suicide when the Rainbow is Enuf 16 )

There is hope for the coloured miss, there is the rainbow. The rainbow is a symbol rich with scriptural imagination ; it is the expansive hope of the coloured miss. If she finds the rainbow, she will happen that it is enuf. In the Bible, the rainbow was given to Noah as a mark of compact. For the coloured miss, the rainbow is a compact from the goddess within, a promise that she is non entirely. A reassurance that there are other coloured misss, misss who have been beaten, abused, and neglected. They form a powerful and insoluble rainbow.

Noah had a patriarchal God who lived someplace in the clouds. The coloured miss finds her goddess within her really being. The goddess within is a metaphysical informant to the devastation of the patriarchate. When she is embraced, she heals the ego and affirms the rainbow. Each sister is portion of the rainbow and provides the “ enuf ” . The sistership of the rainbow is greater than the anguish of dead babes, the cicatrixs of abortion, the letdown of relationships, and the ferociousness of colza. The sistership of the rainbow is broader than church and deeper than hurting.

Metaphysicss is non merely a philosophical term which is rational in nature, it deals with the spiritual or religious or concealed nature of things ( supernatural ) . The poesy rhythms that have been selected for this paper do non cover with the religious facet of coloured misss. Yet, it is clear that traditional spiritualty offers really small to the coloured misss. There is a strong undertow of African and Caribbean spiritualty in the work. The whole thought of encompassing an interior goddess can non be separated from the goddess worship which came to these shores from Africa and have been suppressed by a patriarchal God. This longing for another type of spiritualty or metaphysic is a repeating yarn in white feminism. The embracing of the interior goddess is a metaphysical attack to faith which is irregular and self affirming. The coloured miss has been denied personhood by the oppressive white patriarchate in concert with a weaker and debased black patriarchate. ( Shange, For Colore Girls who have Considere Suicide when the Rainbow is Enuf 106-110 )

Work forces are non characters in this choreopoem, nevertheless, their being and influence can non be denied. They can non be denied, because they seem to be the beginning of hurting and pleasance. Work force are the ineluctable “ other ” which the coloured misss need to last. Men seem to be an habit-forming drug administered early and frequently. No affair how bad the adult male treats her, she comes back for more. If he beats her, she stays with him anyhow. If he rapes other adult females she refuses to believe that her charming boyfriend could be a raper until he rapes her. Work force are the drug of pick for coloured misss. Drugs and intoxicant merely cover the hurting of the primary alcohol. The coloured miss is a drug addict and it is merely by the grace of God that she overcomes her deathly add-on. The more hurting he gives, the more she desires him. It is merely when she gives up on her add-on that she becomes a black adult female and ceases to be a coloured miss. ( Shange, For Colore Girls who have Considere Suicide when the Rainbow is Enuf 45 )

The sistership is seen in the duologue, which exists between the ladies as a elusive connexion which unites all of the verse forms. The verse forms are merely a metaphor for the adult females themselves. If there is an interconnectedness among the verse forms, so there is a possible duologue between each adult female in the choreopoem. Each adult female makes her ain typical part to the rainbow, this ultimate symbol of hope. The coloured miss can ne’er appreciate the rainbow until she considers suicide. Suicide clarifies the quandary that the coloured miss must confront. She must give up her dependence to that painful “ other ” or confront self devastation. Not all colored misss make this life confirming determination ; many are swallowed up in the temptingness of self-destruction. For those who see the pick as life or decease, the lone acceptable pick is life. Avowal of life for the coloured miss means avowal of the goddess within. ( Shange, For Colore Girls who have Considere Suicide when the Rainbow is Enuf 56 )

Shange creates her ain rainbow comforter ; each adult female is a spot in the comforter. A spot helps to make or finish the whole. Together they are a strong beautiful comforter, which provides value and heat on a cold dark. This colourful comforter of ruddy, green, violet, bluish, orange, xanthous, and brown togss is besides a powerful warning of what God told Noah, “ It wo n’t be H2O, but fire following clip. ” Possibly the fire will be the uncontrolled fury of the black adult female who has found her voice through the power of poesy or other signifiers of the spoken word. The universe that is to be destroyed is possibly a metaphor for a patriarchate. A patriarchate that will non flex or set and must be uprooted and burned. The coloured miss has merely to lose her ironss.