A Linguistic Analysis Of Rhetorical Strategies In Selected Narratives Of Alice Walker

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English and Languages


Doctor of Philosophy

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The objective of this investigation was to analyze rhetorical strategies of Alice Walker in four narratives, namely, The Color Purple, In Search of Our Mother's Gardens, Possessing the Secret of Joy, and Now Is the Time To Open Your Heart. As such, this study helps to expand the body of investigation relating linguistics to literature and medium to message. To address the problem, the writer relied upon the method of discourse analysis, specifically employing the linguistic tools of phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics, as well as a combination of theoretical frameworks, including Paul H. Grice's conversational implicature, Gill Seidel's discourse analysis, Edward Finegan's concepts of language use, George Yule's theoretical writings, Edward Said's colonial discourse theory, and certain feminist reductionist concepts. Even more specifically, the writer examined Walker's phonological processes; the patterns of word formation; the syntactic features that Walker employed to negotiate with her readers, including negation, verb deletion, tense variation, subordination, voice variation, and co-ordination; her rhetorical use of ambivalence as a semantic device; and her manipulation of fronting, code switching, and negation as pragmatic strategies. The study demonstrated that Alice Walker's rhetorical practices contributed to realistic presentation of her characters; underscored power differentials among these characters, and between the characters and her targeted audience, and even asserted a unity between these characters and Walker herself; highlighted moments of intensity; uncovered many of her ambivalent expressions as part of a deliberate artistic plan; and allowed Walker to advocate for change on various issues like religion, race, and gender bias. All in all, though we do not frequently imagine that writers purposefully manipulate the linguistic features of their creative work, it is clear that Walker is very much concerned with managing many linguistic elements to achieve her artistic effects, and this fact only reinforces the impression that Walker is an artist of complexity and depth.