Style and Theme in For Colored Girls who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow is Enuf
For Colored Girls who Have Considered Suicide/ When the Rainbow
is Enuf is a piece of work written by Ntozake Shange. It is written in an
unusual style that is called a choreopoem. This style is very effective when
done by a skilled poet such as Shange. She uses a combination of rhyming
lyrics and a play like format to captivate the reader. The subject matter of her
work is very powerful as well. The entire collection revolves around how
black women are oppressed and their courage throughout many trials. Using
the combination of a unique style and riveting content Ntozake Shange sends
a message of hope and pride to her fellow black women in her work For
Colored Girls who Have Considered Suicide/ When the Rainbow is Enuf.
First of all, Shange writes in the form a choreopoem. A choreopoem is
a piece of work that is written as a poem but is intended to be acted out on
stage sort of like an opera. It is constructed in such a way that it flows just as
well on paper as it does on stage. She either writes in all capital letters or all
lower case letters and never mixes them. This creates a style that she is
personally known for. It sets her apart from other writers and makes her work
original. None of the characters have names or any type of identity except for
the color of their clothes. When the piece is done on stage the characters are
never introduced they are just eventually recognized by the color of their
dresses. This makes it a little difficult to follow for the reader or spectator at
first but after the work is under way each individual may find they relate to a
certain color and begin to follow the specific character wearing that certain
color. This is another literary tactic that Shange uses to separate herself from
other writers. Shange writes much of her work from personal experience
which makes her writing twice as interesting and powerful. She writes several
different poems and has them all flow together as one, incredible piece of
work. Shange epitomizes the choreopoem style of writing.
The theme of Colored Girls is mainly Shange's view of other women of
her own race. She writes of dreams that all black women had during her time.
Dreams of love and of the good life were the only things that kept many
women going according to Shange. Despite all of the dreams and the steps
that black women took to reach them they always seemed to be shattered by
some heartless lover or destroyed at the hand of the white folk.
Shange writes with such passion that anyone no matter what their background
can receive the message in her writing and benefit from it.
'i cant now
i cant be nice to nobody
nice is such a rip-off'
This exert from the book shows Shange's view of life and social issues after
she moved to Harlem. She has obviously lost all confidence and respect for
everyone around her. Throughout the book Shange continually bashes men
and the way they treated women in Harlem. She talks about the oppression
that women had to endure when they gave everything that they were to a man
and then that man took it all away without a second thought. Obviously there
is a lot of unhealthy feelings held by black women when they can not even
afford to be nice to anyone for fear of being hurt or even raped for no reason.
The message or theme that Shange wants everyone, not only other
black women, who reads her work to get is her description of what it means
to be a black woman in a world of harsh streets, deceitful men, and aching
loss. She wants people to know that black women do not want their pity but
their applaud for the courage that it took to live through those difficult times.
Shange felt that people should know what things were like for colored women
and that it wasn't a walk in the park to endure what they had to endure. She is
seeking respect from everyone who reads her writing. Shange accomplishes
her goal by combining her captivating style and touching content in her work
For Colored Girls who Have Considered Suicide/ When the Rainbow is Enuf.