“Us each other’s people now”: A Critical Analysis of the ‘Queer’ Happy Endings that Subvert and Reject the American Heteronarrative in Rubyfruit Jungle and The Color Purple



Heteronarratives dominate American fiction: their prevalence is the direct result of the socially constructed notion of compliance to a heteronormative standard, with heterosexuality existing as a normative category of identityand an unquestioned position both in the real world and within fiction.

This article analyses how Rita Mae Brown’s Rubyfruit Jungle (1973) and Alice Walker’s The Color Purple (1982) subvert heteronarrative constructions of happiness and reject the tropes surrounding queer character suffering in popular culture. While Brown focuses upon happiness as the result of owning one’s queer identity through rejecting heteronormativity and learning how to ‘reorientate’ oneself in moments of crisis, Walker’s narrative presents the achievement of happiness through a reclamation of black women’s’ folk speech and a queering of the black American family to create a female community with a shared history beyond blood ties. Focusing on triumph over tribulation, this article critically analyses how Brown and Walker’s queer protagonists navigate complex familial relationships, friendships and the often-fraught journey from child to adulthood, to irrevocably own their disorientated narratives and close with a queer type of happy ending.


happy endingheteronarrative(dis)orientationqueersubversionwomanism
  • Volume: 7 Issue: 1
  • Page/Article: 2-21
  • DOI: 10.18573/ipics.89
  • Published on 30 Apr 2019
  • Peer Reviewed