Gendered perspectives in the novels of Ngugi Wa Thiong'o and Alice Walker
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This study focuses on the treatment of male and female characters in the novels of Ngugi wa Thiong'o and Alice Walker. It centres on narrative choices and gender approaches in the novels of the two writers. The relationship between the author's gender and the narrative choices the author makes in the portrayal of characters is deployed to find the narrative choices which are specific to either gender. The study examined the images of men and women in novels of both writers and how the difference in their social-cultural backgrounds has influenced their writings. Indeed, on the basis of the hypotheses, the study has further revealed that the two writers' experiences, gender and subsequent development, have also affected their work.Walker'S feminist view contrasts with that of Ngugi to the extent that even though Ngugi is not biased against women, his writings still bring out the male character much more forcefully. Each portrays characters from different ideological perspectives. Ngugi writes from an African male's position which is informed by colonial experience and Marxist ideology. Hence treats women as a second category of social hierarchy. Walker, an African-American female writer treats women as first class category as a result of her experience of slavery, racism and sexism. Men in Walker's world need redemption from the social ills that are rampant in her society. With regard to gender positioning, the study revealed Ngugi's grounding on gender issues. He presents female characters as powerful women who rather than being sexually and psychologically flattened by the African culture, choose to redefine their roles in supportive and mutual relations with African men and with their families. While Alice Walker convincingly explores the experiences of women and empathises better with fellow women, she remains insensitive to the male characters, who are presented to the reader through the eyes of another person-usually a woman. She has no male character with positive identity. The study indicated that the authors' visions regarding issues of gender have undergone drastic change. While Ngugi has tended to lean towards Marxist ideology, Walker has turned into lesbianism, notwithstanding their religions backgrounds. N gugi satirises religion, while Walker believes in the new age religion where everything is viewed as sacred. The study utilizes four theoretical frameworks: postcolonial criticism; psychoanalytic theory; gender studies; and queer theory, to carry out a critical analysis in order to determine the divergent approaches in the creative writing of a male author and a female author. Although the conclusions derived from this study could not benefit from the works that were co-authored with other writers due to the difficulty of deciphering the specific perspective of the authors under study, the research yielded invaluable insights in areas for further research, especially in comparative gender studies.