For Colored Girls: Hard to Read

My view on Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls is one of slight confusion. It is hard to follow when you’re used to grammatically correct language and proper punctuation. The story behind the play was  good, even if the writing was slightly confusing. At times it was hard to figure out who was talking because I could not put a face to the “name.”

One of the woman’s stories about how she had a pimp really made me think back to the first few weeks of the course curriculum when we discussed the commercial sexual exploitation of children. I remember that the young women went through things they didn’t need to and that they were forced to deal with what the pimp wanted. The author’s writing, however, made the play harder to understand. There were constant gaps in which I would not be sure of a word and, no matter how many times I would read the sentence I would still get lost on the word she was using. I never really thought that one’s writing style could change how you view and comprehend their writing. The shortening of words makes reading difficult.It also puts me off slightly to reading the book. I prefer books with proper grammar and punctuation to a play where some things are missing or changed grammatically.

It’s not that I view something like that to be poorly written, because I’m sure that many of the books or plays written like that are amazing. My comfort zone, however, does not allow me to read these books, so much as the ones that are easier to read. For example, I would rather read a long tedious book filled with almost a thousand pages than a play that has about sixty six pages because the tedious book is easier for me to read grammatically, unlike the sixty six paged play. For Colored Girls is a play I feel I’d enjoy more if it wasn’t written in the way it was.

I also feel that at times the women and the writing are affirming the racial stereotypes people have about black people. While I’m not saying For Colored Girls is a bad book, I think for me it should have been written differently. The book itself is very depressing, talking about the struggles women went through, such as the Lady in Blue being raped by someone she knew, someone who was nice to her, who she trusted. After that, she had to go through the shame of knowing she was raped and getting pregnant from the rape no less. As if that was not bad enough, she had to go get an abortion, praying that no one would find out that she got pregnant. She could not handle the shame, and, for her, it was a horrible and degrading experience.

For Colored Girls explains what people of color suffer through and have to put up with in society. The Lady in Brown is like all of the woman combined. She opens the play and ends the play. She is the one who tells us how the story will play out, and what happens to the women and how they get out of their depression and suicidal state.

3 thoughts on “For Colored Girls: Hard to Read

  1. I definitely agree Taylor that in the beginning, the incorrect grammar was confusing and slowed me down when I was reading the text. However, I felt by the end of the text I realized that the different writing technique made the text unique and different. I also think that the fact that the grammar makes the reader slow down can sometimes help especially with a short play because it makes the reader try to understand the pieces, not just read over them. I also liked how you made a connection between one of the pieces to material we went over earlier in the trimester. I can definitely see the connection you are making in your blog. Adding on to the comment you said about the Lady in Brown being a combination of all the other ladies reminds me of a comment in class that someone said about how when you mix all the other colors together you get brown. I think that comment makes sense since as you said the Lady in Brown introduces and ends the play.

  2. I too found the style in which the play was written slightly hard to comprehend at times, but I think that it brought character to the play and for me it helped to bring the ladies to life. It did take some re-reading to fully grasp concepts and ideas, but I feel that Ntozake Shange purposely wrote her play this way to help illustrate it. I agree that The Lady in Brown was a mixture of all of the women in the play and she helped to lead us through the story.

  3. I agree with you that the style was hard to get used to in the beginning. I know that I said something similar in class the other day, but after I completely finished the book I noticed the real value that the grammar has. I realized the play probably wouldn’t have been anywhere near as vivid if the writing was the same as everything else I’ve read. I also realized that the grammar is something that makes this book stand apart. I do understand where your coming from, but Ntozake Shange, being someone who I’m sure was taught the grammar that most authors use, chose to write her book this way and I think it would be incredibly interesting to hear what she would say to your view on the text. I also really like the way you saw the lady in brown. I would like to think of all the stories as the stories of women in connection to each other, that they are not alone in their suffering, and the idea that the lady in brown is a mixture of all of them further helps me see the book this way.

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