for colored girls who trudge on

As I held the book for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf, a choreopoem by Ntozake Shange, I glanced at the cover, and wondered what the second half of the name “who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf” meant.

After reading the short play, I realized not only what the title means, but also the horrible situations it corresponds to. The title is talking about when the women in the book feel that after all the hardships they have been through they are at a loss of what to do next, and think that all that they have left to control is their own death.

The play talks about devastating circumstances each woman is put through. One of the poems talks about a woman having an abortion whilst another talks about going to a party and being the only virgin. Although all the poems in the play are insightful and moving, I found the most interesting poem was the one about a man trying to convince his girlfriend, with whom he had two kids already, to marry him. He “[didn’t] wanna cuz [her] no more trouble/[he] wanted to marry [her] & give [her] things” however she felt cornered and threatened (58).

Reading this poem made me think of what we have been talking all trimester about which is the male privilege and the power of having the mindset that someone is superior to you. Crystal stood her ground because she clearly did not want to marry Beau Willie. However, he couldn’t grasp why she didn’t want to marry him. At the end of the story, Beau dangles the children outside the window in hopes of getting the answer he wants. At this Crystal agrees but Beau, starts getting anxious and drops the children. The ending of the poem is horribly obvious in showing the power dynamic that can exist between men and women. Even though Crystal has taken care of the children, and even though she has birthed them, in the end, it is the man that has the power of life or death in his hands.

I was very intrigued by the idea that each woman represents a different color in the rainbow of people. I thought that perhaps each color would represent the type of woman it corresponds to. The clearest proof of this is the lady in brown. Brown is the color you get when you mix all the other colors together, so I thought that the lady in brown could represent almost the entire rainbow of ladies. The lady in brown would be the main connecting thread showing the general picture of the poems. She pleads to the audience “somebody/anybody sing a black girls’ song bring her out to know herself to know you…she’s been dead so long closed in silence so long” (4).

The lady in brown is the messenger of what should be done; she is the voice that is telling the facts. She also has the ending poem of the play in which she says, “this is for colored girls who have considered suicide/but are movin to the ends of their own rainbows” (64). I found this line to have many interpretations. The rainbow represents all of the different women of color and the idea of “movin to the ends of their own rainbow” could mean that eventually the rainbow will become a merge of color and everyone will be looked upon as equal. The phrase could also mean that they are leaving the idea of committing suicide.

While I was reading the play, I was reminded of the book In the Blood by Suzan-Lori Parks. The way that both books are written shows an interesting commonality. for colored girls is written in a style not only to convey the way that the women in the book converse but also to challenge “proper” writing. The fact that the author is challenging “proper” grammatical writing is radical.

This play is most certainly feminist because it shows how everything intersects. It shows how women have to struggle to gain respect and power and many times even though they persevere, they eventually lose the battle. They are also ostracized not only because they are women but also because they are uneducated, poor, and women of color. This puts them “outside [of] Chicago… outside [of] detroit… outside [of] houston… outside [of] baltimore… outside [of] san francisco… outside [of] manhattan… outside [of] st. louis”(5).  The fact that these women are outside of these cities shows how they are referred to as ‘them’ as compared to ‘us’ who live in the ‘cities’. The play not only shows how the ladies are pushed down upon everyone around them but it shows how they push as equally hard back. They persevere though the end result is that they may collapse but they still fought for what they felt just.

2 thoughts on “for colored girls who trudge on

  1. As I was reading your blog post Hannah I thought you made many good and interesting points. The first part I wanted to comment on was when you were talking about your opinion of the title. I thought your point was very interesting and I totally agree. But adding on to that thought I wanted to say that I think also the title means also that when the hardships women experience become to much for them and they want out. I thought your sentence saying “all that they have left to control is their own death” was very powerful and something I never thought about when reading the play. Another part of your blog post that I wanted to comment on was about the poem where Beau Willie is holding the two kids outside the window because I actually had a different interpretation to that poem. My interpretation was that she said she would not marry Beau Willie even though that meant her kids would die. But I think your interpretation which is that “Crystal agrees but Beau, starts getting anxious and drops the children” makes more sense because why would Crystal risk her children’s health for her own freedom. This comment gave me something to think about and another way to look at the piece. I also liked the connection you made with In the Blood by Suzan-Lori Parks.

  2. I liked your idea that in the last story, even though Crystal was taking control of her relationship with Beau Willie, in the end he was the one who had the power of life or death in his hands; he had the ‘true’ power. I, myself, did not analyze the story in this way and found it very interesting that you saw this deeper meaning; and I agree with you. I think what’s also important to keep in mind is that the only reason Crystal was going to say yes to his marriage proposal was to save her children. She did not want to be with him and she never had ‘I need a man’ feelings, which is very powerful. She was moving to the end of her rainbow and finding herself and knew that she didn’t need a no-good man to keep her feeling whole, she “found god in herself and loved her fiercely.”

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