The Aristotelian tradition in the novels of Alice Walker: a contemporary application of the five canons

Date

12/30/1989

Authors

Spencer, Helen Benjamin

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Abstract

Aristotle and Alice Walker share more than an initial. Though separated by centuries, the two have contributed heavily to literature: Aristotle in the writing of precepts for effective persuasion and Walker in the application of those precepts in the writing of introspective and realistic fiction. None of the limited research produced on the novels of Alice Walker has focused on the Aristotlelian tradition of persuasion that informs Walker's fiction.

The focus of this paper is the first three novels: The Color Purple, Meridian, and The Third Life of Grange Copeland. By using Aristotle's definition of rhetoric as the "faculty of observing in any given case the available means of persuasion," this paper proves the assertion that Walker makes use of the canons of rhetoric--invention, memory, arrangement, delivery, and style--in presenting a persuasive argument about the realities of the experiences of African-American women in the South (7). Aristotle's Rhetoric is the primary source against which Walker's three novels are measured.

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Keywords

Literature, Linguistics, Social sciences, Rhetoric, Language

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