For Colored Girls who Have Considered Suicide/ When the Rainbow is Enuf: Style and Theme

Lorin Hobart
AML 2604
Ms. Hunt

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.