The Color Purple
The Color Purple: Summary, Characters, & Facts
The Color Purple focuses on the lifestyle of post-slave South where most of the freed slaves had already migrated to the North by 1915 and the ones that had stayed behind in the South were sharecroppers under their former masters. The South became more and more segregated which meant it was harder for African Americans to get better jobs, educations, or even just fair treatment. Although some African Americans were able to obtain better jobs and this led to lynching because most of the time White Southerners did not like the idea of an African American becoming more than what they believed was right for them. The book shows this by explaining that Celie and Nettie’s father was one of the African Americans who had become somewhat successful and so a White racist mob came and lynched him, ” Once upon a time, there was a well-to-do farmer who owned his own property he decided to open a store his store did so well that he talked two of his brothers into helping him. Then the white merchants began to get together and complain the man’s store was burned down, his smithy destroyed, and the man and his two brothers dragged out of their homes in the middle of the night and hanged”.
African Americans during the time period who lived in the South were segregated from the White population because at the time most Southern Whites still had the same mindset that African Americans were below them and they should not have the same luxuries or experiences as them which led to groups such as the Klu-Klux-Klan reforming. The KKK would then go on to lynch and murder African Americans who had become successful or had done any White person wrong in some shape or form. The Color Purple is an important piece of American literature because it shows the worldview of someone during the early twentieth century where slavery had been really been made illegal a few decades prior. People who read the book are able to experience a whole nother way of looking at the world because of the perspective the book gives to the reader through the way it was written. The book is written in the way of letters that are addressed to God or Celie from Celie’s sister Nettie. The letters help the person who reads the book have a more personal feel to reading because the letters are written as a personal connection to Celie’s life almost like it were a diary.
History Behind the Purple Color
What I know about the color purple is that it takes primary colors, red and blue, to make it. I believe that makes it a secondary color. I know some forms of the color purple are lilac, magenta, or lavender. Purple is the color of royalty and richness. I want to say it is the color of lust. I don’t know much about the history or when the color was discovered. Which is what I will change today.
The color purple originated the Phoenician city of Tyre. It was produced as a dye that was in very high demand due to a very intricate production process. The main ingredient of the dye was the mucus from the sea snail, Bolinus brandaris. The dye-makers would crack open the snail’s shell, extract and expose the mucus to sunlight for a specific amount of time. An immense amount of mucus was needed in order to make even just a tiny amount of dye. Even though it took so much mucus to produce, the sea snails never became extinct and they can still be found today. The process of making the purple dye was also said to be incredibly rancid. So the harvesters were positioned at the edge of town because while being a very popular good, a lot of people complained about the smell.
Due to this being such a picky process, purple became the color of royalty and riches because only the highest people could afford it. The purple dye became so sought after that laws were soon put into place to protect the use of it. Julius Caesar was one of the important figures that was known to wear the color purple. It is said that he visited Cleopatra, where she had purple sails, curtains, and chairs, so Julius came home in a purple toga. He declared that only he could wear it.
Along the path of history, the Earl of Surrey, Henry Howard, was tried for treason against Henry VIII. Part of the evidence against Howard was that he was seen wearing purple. At the time, only the king could wear it. Sticking with the family tree of Henry VIII, yet in Queen Elizabeth I’s reign, she had still forbidden anyone outside of the royal family from wearing purple. The dye was only affordable for the richest of the rich. Some of the wealthy couldn’t even afford this beautiful color. Roman emperor Aurelian was known for not allowing his wife to buy purple clothing because it costed so much.
Today, purple still remains a finer color. Even after William Henry Perkin, a student at the Royal College of Chemistry, accidentally created a synthetic formula for purple in 1856. He was working in his home lab, trying to find a way of making quinine, a treatment for malaria. Perkin had added hydrogen and oxygen to coal tar. This mixture had left a black residue in his scientific instruments. When that residue was made into a solution, it resulted in the color “mauve.”
Purple is a secondary color combination of blue and red. The feelings often associated with the color purple are power and ambition. Purple also represents extravagance, creativity, peace, mystery and magic. Purple can also be associated with spirituality. Lighter hues of purple symbolize feminine energy and delicacy, along with romantic feelings. Deep shades of purple can sometimes represent sadness, gloom and frustration. It’s the bright rich purple that represents royalty. Colors that would be good to combine with purple would be orange, yellows or pink. Combining those three with each other would create a very energetic color combination. Purple could also be paired with plum, or even various shades of green like lime or mint.
Before conducting my research, I didn’t know that purple had such an interesting story behind the creation of it. I almost thought that someone had taken the color red and mixed it with the color blue to get purple, but it was a much more sophisticated story than that. I was also wrong about the feelings behind the color purple. I thought it would be related to lust, but that was only for the lighter shades of purple. I had also forgot that purple was related to religious aspects. Growing up, I was Lutheran and the cross would sometimes be dressed in purple cloths. So, finding that piece of information made sense to me. After doing this research, It has made purple have a deeper meaning to me and it might almost now be my favorite color.
Modeling a Strategy Out Of Know Means: a Patulous Flight in The Color Purple And Meridian
Walker initiates, in The Color Purple, the predicament of black women using Celie, in the form of trade and industry, and sexual exploitation in a masculine reigned and racialist culture. The novel exhibits the striking maturation and the progress of Celie, the major female character from misused teenager to a dexterous woman who has acquired the knowledge of positioning herself satisfactorily and has tried to get through her hostile surroundings in a capable manner. When the play sets about Celie is sketched as overtaxed, whacked, and lower to authentic serfdom. She is given like a bit of capital from one brutal and despotic dark man into the hands of one more. Her step- childern harass her and her spouse bitches her up like clouting a mule. A submissiveness of Celie is observed by Gloria Wade Gayles in the following lines: “First possessed by the man she accepts to be her dad, Celie is presently claimed by Mr. ____. Her status is like that of a slave. In the establishment of man controlled society, dark ladies, paying little heed to age, are slaves” (13). In addition , Calvin C. Hernton in his exposition, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf: Color Purple as Slave Narrative” expresses, “Albert treats her any way he picks… simultaneously, ladies are infantilized and rendered totally subject to male paternalism for any benevolence they may be agreed” (13). Celie is a woman ‘ quieted and hushed’ by a male centric culture. She is curbed by brutality and counsel physically.
Celie keeps on being very notwithstanding the individuals who mistreat her till energized by her association with Shug. At the beginning, she disseminates her suffering by means of letters particularly to Nettie and God. Her messages to God divulge a business of self-understanding, self-scrutiny, and self-revelation. They are also opined to be correspondence of self- examination, allowing her to explicit her musing and passions. Since, she has noticed no one to converse and portion her troubles, she put in writing about her complications in the kind of letter to Nettie and God, which creates comfort to her. So, it is comprehensible that a missive of Celie has ushered out her intrinsic adversities of life. Her observations of life are dreadful and Celie has to remain her life against all eccentric amidst her hardships and repressions in her end in life circumstances, her missives to Nettie or God look good as a catalyst. These letters have no concealed sub-rosa and they plainly display that she has no reticence in divulging the happenings of her life.
The letters of Celie gush also out her strength of feelings. Celie expresses her hardships and her repressed concerns via these missives and by that means avows her existence. So, these letters are not the thing but confirming of her survival. This is proved when she writes letters to God, “which have been coordinated toward the undertaking of making self, have been suitably tended to. Her letters associate her to this inside being” (89). The unresponded in kind letters recorded to God in the end provide her with the force she wants to brawl back. This opinion is picked out by Winchell when she says: “In keeping in touch with God, she is keeping in touch with the piece of her identity becoming logically more grounded until the point when she can recognize the God inside herself and request the regard due her” (89). These letters also substantiate that Celie’s notions are merges with her concerns, deeds and expressions, producing the letters to surmise a standard of strength and sway.
Through these letters Celie enunciates the consequences of injustice on her psychic, soma and pneuma as well as her increasing vigor against it and her eventual victory over the barbarity. She has ushered out, via letters, the physical and psychological exploitation she goes through. Her letters copy the march of her character and the metaphases which she comes in for. She is not fully timorous, starved, mute or indistinct. Pronouncing words are short-lived, while written work endures always. By guiding her opinions through messages, it is workable for Celie to detect the twinge and unfair treatment that she is subjectivity. Through jotting down her mortification, Celie appraises to human race that she is not a big zilch. At all individuality the male dominated her refuses her, she attempts to search through her messages.
Therefore, her words over throw prolonged unjust treatment in the progress of endorsing it. These missives addressed to Nettie are differently stamped “Your Sister, Celie” and “Amen,” as utterance of approval, of proclamation and of validation. Celie is now ratifying, asserting and validating her own words, her own worth, and the authority of her own experience. When Celie instructs Mary Agnes that she should not allow people to call her Squeak. It is clear that she attempts to save, reinstate her identity. She initiates to pursue that her moniker is an emblem of her prestige and living hood. When she denies to be degraded by her sobriquet, she triumphs her own moniker and identity. By her seizure of the epistolary structure, Celie has independence to figure her survival. This is observed by Elizabeth Fifer, when she says it: “By utilizing linguistic, the main dialect she knows, when all open correspondence is forbidden, she finds and adventures a ground-breaking instrument in her advancement of mindfulness through self-articulation” (158). Her languages explicit the power of the beastly erotic cruelty, Celie as an uneducated black woman, has felt the pain. This is observed by Walker when she puts it in writing, “For it is dialect more than whatever else that uncovers and approves one’s presence, and if the dialect we really talk is denied us, at that point it is inescapable that the frame we are allowed to accept verifiably will be one of personification, reflecting another person’s abstract or social dream” (Living By the Word 58).
Racism And Discrimination Of Black People in Motion Pictures
Racism and discrimination have been present in almost every era throughout history. Unfortunately, it still exists in our population in ways which remind us of the hardships that people of colour had to go through, mainly in the United States. Even though the world has progressed greatly in the last couple of decades, racism, hatred and discrimination still exist today, deeply implanted in narrow-minded traditions and values. The official definition of racism is “the prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.” Through the analysis of the four films that are connected by the theme of racism and discrimination, we are able to see; Where was the source of racism coming from in the films? How were main characters affected by racism? How did the characters overcome racism? The films I have chosen are The Help by Tate Taylor, 12 Years a Slave by Steve Mcqueen, Selma by Ava Duvernay and The Color Purple by Steven Spielberg. Through these films, we are able to learn that racism is a serious issue that we are still facing in this day and age.
Connection one: Racism and Slavery is a Form of Dehumanization and Dissociation
A significant aspect that The Help, 12 Years a Slave, Selma and The Color Purple share in common is that the main characters were dehumanized and dissociated by the law. This has made society inflicted by the discrimination caused by white people. They did not have protection over their own lives due to the white supremacy which is the belief and theory that white people are inherently superior to people from all other racial groups, especially black people, and are therefore, rightfully the dominant group in any society. The Help conveys ways of racism was perceived in the 1960s in Jackson, Mississippi. Black females ‘helped’ white women to become more aware and enlightened on the movement of their people, gaining simple rights and entitlements. Slavery is “a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work” which is exactly, what the film 12 Years a Slave is about; the life of Solomon Northup. He was born in the free State of New York but then is poisoned, kidnapped and forced into slavery for a lengthy 12 years. Northup was kidnapped from the north to the south where slavery was the norm, with disturbing laws that violated many of our human rights today. I believe that the dehumanisation slaves in 12 Years a Slave is the most severe out of all of the films I have chosen. Slaves were forced to work for white men on plantations and were given little or no food, clothes, and/or shelter to live in. These slaves also never had the chance to learn to read, write, or anything to that degree. Inside, humans possess the power to feel or to have emotions. Certain things in life strike emotions and cause sadness, anger, or any other feelings a human may have. Another quality humans possess is to sense the feelings in others. The film Selma directed by Ava Duvernay focuses on the battles Martin Luther King Jr. fought during the Civil Rights movement, particularly for voting rights for African-Americans. The police violence in the film reminds us that many black people view police violence through the experience of history. Some do not understand why many black people respond to the killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner as reminders; a history filled with lynchings and violence instead of just as other events.
In my opinion, these films exposes some of America’s deepest racial, gender, and class wounds as individuals and social groups that still exists to this day. Although it has gotten better, there are still major issues in America that persist because of the mindset and mentality of the 19th century. The connection of dehumanization and dissociation to society is mainly sourcing from white supremacy, where dehumanization takes part to make black people feel less human by taking away their individuality, their sense of compassion and sensitivity towards others, essentially making the objects. This has caused physical trauma for black people. By the end of the eighteenth century, branding, amputation, and other extreme brutal forms of punishment became rare as means of controlling slaves. But beating continued, causing slaves’ most catastrophic physical and psychological trauma. In the film Selma, the main character Celie endures rape, sexism, the loss of her children at birth, domestic violence, the loss of her sister, and the demoralization of her friend (Sofia), who loses her freedom to the law. It is prevalent throughout all films that black people are always treated less than everyone else. Evidence from The Help shows us that black people are dissociated from society “A disease-preventative bill that requires every white home to have a separate bathroom for the coloured help. It’s been endorsed by the White Citizens Council” this displays how white people have isolated black people from their ‘white society’, where they become objectified by the law.
The Color Purple and The Help links. The main characters in both films play the role of the maid, in which again disassociated from the ‘white society’. They both are verbally and physically abused by their employers, creating an unhealthy mental mindset. As a black American woman, Sofia from the film The Color Purple is strong, fierce, and daring to a fault. In fact, it is her refusal to lessen or belittle herself that almost leads to her destruction. Brought up in the south in the 1930s, she refuses to follow the systematic oppression that suppresses the position of black women. In that system, a black person had to remain subservient to whites, economically and socially. Blacks worked for whites, who paid them very little. In addition, a black woman came under the rule of her husband. A black woman was a practically prisoner in the system. White men controlled the state, and black men controlled the black households. Sofia had no chance in such a setting. This can be true for the main characters from the film The Help, Aibileen Clark and Minny Jackson as they were also in the ‘system’, where blacks worked for whites, who paid them a very little amount. A black person had to remain subservient and loyal to their white owners, otherwise the consequences may ruin their lives completely, as shown in this film where one of the maids has their reputation ruined by their white employers, which essentially destroyed her life.
By stripping black people of their human qualities, white people are dehumanizing the black society. Being a human means to have emotions and to have control over how you feel and what you feel about it. In these films, we were shown that dehumanisation in slavery and racism plays a big factor in our society and though it has improved, it still exists to this day.
Connection Two: The Pursuit for Justice
Justice and equality is a significant issue in almost all societies around the world but is most prominent in the US. Justice involves important issues like human rights and social policies. Race, gender, ethnicity, socio-economic status and other factors that “categorize” individuals in a certain community are all factors that contribute towards justice. The civil rights movement was a struggle for social justice that took place mainly during the 1950s and 1960s for blacks to gain equal rights under the law in the United States. The Civil War had officially ended slavery, but it didn’t end the discrimination against blacks – they continued to endure the devastating effects of racism, especially in the South. In my opinion, the Selma protest delivers a very strong idea of how severe the racisms was back then. Focusing on one protest instead if his entire life was a good way to ensure that the purpose of the film was shown. Underlining the protests creates character development throughout the film as it shows that the main character progressively acquires more empowering perceptions in order to gain their legal justice. Similar to the other films, we are able to identify that by the end of the film we are able to perceive the hardships that these characters have gone through. This has helped the main characters to take pride in their race and become a stronger human being. “Our lives are not fully lived if we’re not willing to die for those we love, for what we believe” – Martin Luther King Jr. this strengthens my understanding of what blacks had to go through for there freedom was greatly increased by all of these films. This connects to the freedom in the film The Help where Aibileen finally feels free at the end of the film because she faced the truth, “God says we need to love our enemies. It’s hard to do. But it can start by telling the truth. No one had ever asked me what it feels like to be me. Once I told the truth about that, I felt free.” This shows us that the truth is brutal, dark and ugly, but there’s nothing much they can do about except for fight for their freedom and that’s exactly what the main characters in both films conquered in their own ways. Although we did not see Martin Luther King Jr.’s entire life we saw a very significant and important part of it that revolutionized and helped their society to overcome some of the racism in a more progressive manner.
Overall, these films have taught us that justice is something everyone deserves, but it isn’t always what they get. Characters are mainly used as the primary form of racism. Across the films I have covered, racism primarily takes on the form of a character within the texts’ overarching story.
Connection Three: Racism in the Past and Racism Today
Throughout these films, it is evident that progress has been made since 12 Years a Slave. Set in the 1850s, this film shows us a representation of how slavery in the United States was in the Pre-Civil War. Basic facts about the time, the places, the people, and the brutality are incorporated, sometimes in excessive detail. Slaves were degraded, made to suffer awful agonies, and cruelly whites took possession of their physical, emotional, and spiritual being. White people who engage in slavery is morally degraded and emotionally desensitized, this serves as a timeless preview of what human slavery was like in the 1800s. Their suffering provides a moral lesson to all generations from themselves. Evidently, we then see a very slow progression in the 1930s and 1960s, where the films The Help, Selma and The Colour Purple took place. Their situation was not as completely horrible. As long as they worked, they ate; they had their own very modest homes, and so forth. In these time periods, their rights were completely ignored and dismissed, they earned a miniscule salary and black women were under systematic oppression that suppresses their position. A black woman had to remain subservient to whites and their husband. The position of black women in society was demeaned and disregarded, as black men controlled the households and white men controlled everything else. As seen in the film, The Colour Purple, black women experience rape, sexism, domestic violence, humiliation and demoralization on a daily basis. Although they weren’t being worked to death as slaves were in the 1800s, they were still mortified and dehumanized, taking their basic rights away. Slavery has faded slowly into history, however black people were still mistreated and discriminated against white people during that time.
For many years, I believe that racism always existed, that this was something that was deeply embedded in the caricature of Americans, but in reality, race theory and racism is relatively recent in the development of our society. If one were to go back and read some of the ancient Greek philosophy, what we find in the ancient world is cultural patriotism. The Greeks felt that they had the best civilization going. The Romans felt likewise. For that reason, people became accustomed to prejudice and patriotism. People fought each other because of it, making it the main source of conflict, creating the problems they had in their society, infecting ours today. But in their society, it was unquestionably not based on skin colour. In fact, there is insufficient evidence that it is on the basis of skin colour. As among the Greeks, there were leading African people, and among the Romans, there were leading African persons, some of whom, became Roman emperors. As emperors, they thought they were better than everyone else, including other black people who were non-Roman. The discrimination and the kind of conflicts between groups were certainly not about race or colour. It was more about their culture. It was more about a sense of cultural superiority and patriotism.
So how do we put an end to this? The reality is that, during this age, we aren’t able to. Everyone is different. It’s in our nature to respond negatively to things or people we aren’t used to. Scientists believe there is the tendency in all animals to selectively preserve their own kind even at the cost of a different animal type, which can play a factor in the sourcing of racism, not to mention prejudice in general.
As our generations progresses, the way that we think becomes more complex, as does the world around us. Our old values aren’t forgotten, but replaced with new values as our tiresome ways hide in the back of our minds. I believe that racism should be stopped. Racism has occurred for many centuries, but there is still a chance to improve it. There is hope for mankind to end racism. I believe that embracing and accepting unconditional love, as Dr. King explains why; “Now, we gotta get this thing right. What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive, and that love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love.”
Character Traits Of Shug Avery
Shug Avery: A Free Spirit
In The Color Purple by Alice Walker, when Celie, whose brutal story the audience reads about through her letters, meets Shug Avery, Mr. __’s mistress, the audience is immediately confronted with an unlikeable character whose introduction is jarringly negative. Having sympathized with Celie throughout the story, the audience makes the connection that Shug’s opposing personality foils Celie’s in many ways; however, as the story progresses and Shug and Celie’s relationship develops past its initial bounds, the audience sees Shug as someone who is more than a simple, one-dimensional character. As more of her character traits are revealed through her friendship with Celie, Shug is shown to be a free spirit through spite, a caring personality, and a blatant sexual life.
As a pivotal character made prominent in Celie’s letters, one of Shug Avery’s most explicit traits is her spitefulness. Shug is both Mr. __’s mistress and Celie’s idol, and when she is first introduced, Celie writes, “She look me over from head to foot. Then she cackle. . . . You sure is ugly, she say, like she ain’t believe it” (Walker 46). Shug’s first words to Celie are not only rude but also purposely hurtful. Shug even makes a point to emphasize her action of looking at Celie from “head to foot” before insulting her to make her words cut deeper; Shug knows that she herself is an attractive woman, so lowering Celie’s self-esteem through her appearance is an easy task. Even though Shug does not wish to marry Mr. __ because of his flaws, she feels resentful of Celie for marrying Mr. __ when she could not due to Mr. __’s family’s opposition of her. This spitefulness manifests in her cruel words to Celie when they first meet, even going as far as to say to her face that Celie “sure is ugly.” She does not know Celie at all, but just because Celie is Mr. __’s current wife, Shug’s pettiness at not being allowed that title years ago makes her lash out at Celie without any regard to her feelings. Another example of Shug’s spitefulness is when Mr. __ is complaining about what his wife can and cannot do, to which Shug replies, “. . . Good thing I ain’t your damn wife” (Walker 73). Although Shug initially feels bitter about not being Mr. __’s wife when she first insults Celie’s appearance, Shug sees the way Mr. __ treats Celie, who is his actual wife, and feels so annoyed with his constant ramblings that she sasses Mr. __ through saying it is a “good thing” that she is not his wife. She knows that Mr. __ wanted to marry her in the past and that he still loves her now, so her words cut deeply enough to hush him. Tired of hearing his complaints, she pettily implies that she does not want to be his wife if his complaints are what she will have to confine herself to, just as Celie does. Celie, who Shug does not know at the time, and Mr. __, who is Shug’s lover, both experience her free-spirited lack of restraint with her sharp tongue. Shug’s spiteful nature is an important, unadulterated character trait of hers.
Although Shug Avery is a spiteful woman, she is also just as equally caring. Once Shug mends her rocky relationship with Celie, the two women become close friends and even closer confidants. When Shug learns that Celie endures physical abuse from Mr. __ when Shug is not around, Shug says, “I won’t leave . . . until I know Albert won’t even think about beating you” (Walker 76). Despite being healthy and singing strongly again after recuperating from an illness in Mr. __’s home, Shug decides to halt her own life for Celie’s sake because she does not want her friend to suffer anymore. Shug voluntarily stays longer than she needs to despite her bigger plans because she truly cares for Celie’s wellbeing; even if she loves Mr. __, Shug is not willing to overlook his abuse knowing that Celie will take the brunt of it once Shug leaves. In another instance, when Celie retells her tragic past for the first time in her life outside of her letters, Shug comforts Celie: “Don’t cry, Celie, Shug say. Don’t cry. She start kissing the water as it come down side my face” (Walker 114). In being the first person to ask about Celie’s past whereas not even Celie’s own children or husband had, Shug shows that she deeply cares and feels for Celie. Shug goes from originally resenting Celie to going through great efforts to comfort her, which emphasizes the fact that she has learned to care for Celie. Just to prove that somebody can love Celie unlike what history has shown and that Shug actually cares about her, Shug initiates a pleasurable sexual relationship with Celie built upon mutual trust and understanding. Victoria Bond’s corresponding magazine article “‘The Color Purple’ Is a Cultural Touchstone for Black Female Self-Love” claims, “Celie and Shug don’t end up together in either the novel or the movie, and that’s not the point of the story.” Shug cares about Celie, and though their relationship is not the main highlight of the story, the mere action of Shug showing Celie love not only builds Celie’s self-confidence, but it also proves that Shug is willing to care for someone as broken and tragic as Celie as more than a friend. Shug’s free-spirited nature does not care about the fact that a lesbian relationship is considered extremely odd or that she has conducts a sexual relationship with both Celie and Mr. __, just that she wants to care for Celie in any way possible. By going through such a significant effort to comfort Celie, it shows that Shug truly is a caring person.
According to the customs of the early twentieth century, Shug Avery is considered a very sexual woman by the time period’s standards. When Shug is too sick to care for herself and Celie is put in charge of washing her, Celie writes, “She say, Well take a good look. Even if I is just a bag of bones now. She have the nerve to put one hand on her naked hip and bat her eyes at me” (Walker 46). Although the early 1900s was a conservative period for women, Shug flaunts her body and assets in front of Celie without any shame because she knows she is beautiful. Partially to mock Celie for her inexperience, Shug brags about her attractive appearance through her flamboyant actions instead of ignoring Celie’s admiring look. While women in this era cover up and feel scandalized by the mere mention of sexual appeal, Shug openly embraces it in an unrestrained, independent manner that emphasizes just how free-spirited she is. On the topic of Shug’s relationship with Mr. __, when Celie asks if Shug likes to sleep with Mr. __, Shug replies, “Yeah, Celie . . .I have to confess, I just love it. Don’t you?” (Walker 78). Shug’s open acceptance of sex and how she enjoys it stands in stark contrast to the overall social expectations of women during the first half of the twentieth century, which encouraged women to be pure, innocent, and conservative in showing skin and feeling pleasure. Her free-spirited personality manifests in the way she indulges in sex with Mr. __, who is married to Celie, and even Celie herself without hesitation; Shug’s promiscuous behavior is independent of social norms, and her attitude about sex—that a woman is a virgin until she experiences her first orgasm—contradicts the common belief of sex as something a man does to a woman for his pleasure, not the other way around. In terms of the social norms of the early 1900s, Shug is a very sexual person.
Alice Walker’s The Color Purple depicts a character named Shug Avery who, by being spiteful, caring, and sexual, is a free spirit. Although the audience first views Shug as an antagonistic woman, through her interactions with Celie and their powerful friendship, Shug reveals more character traits that define her as unrestrained and independent from social norms of the early 1900s.
A Position Of Women in Alice Walker’s The Color Purple
Is Celie an Independent Woman?
“I’m a strong, independent black woman who don’t need no man!” That’s the phrase that has taken the world by storm in regards to black women in American societies. These women haven’t always been this way, and it is difficult to say that, as “the land of the free”, we haven’t always allowed women to be as independent as they potentially could have been. Women of color have especially been the victim of this, and the pre-Civil Rights Era was certainly no exception. From a psychoanalytic standpoint, Alice Walker’s The Color Purple is the story of a young African-American woman’s journey as she searches for independence from her abusive husband and his family, as well as the blossoming of a child into a woman through her experiences outside of the home.
Right from the get-go, we see that Celie is having troubles in her household from a very young age. The novel starts with Celie being raped by her father, or, more specifically, the line her father instructs as he is committing the act of sexual violence: “You better not never tell nobody but God. It’d kill your mammy” (11). The novel slowly progresses through Celie’s childhood through her letters to God, showing how her younger sister, Nettie, is independent, even as a child. Celie tells her to “keep at her books” and that “… [it’s] more than a notion taking care of children that ain’t even [hers]” (14). Mentally, despite all that’s happened to her, Celie is quite mature for her age. This shows that Celie is somewhat independent, although she still depends on her mother and her father to take care of her, even if they do not seem to care what happens to her (or, at least, her father, as her mother seems to only have mention in the beginning of the novel before she dies). Celie’s journey to adulthood just begins here, and her transition from dependence to independence becomes all the more clear.
The first and most prime example of this is how Celie is educated through her younger sister, Nettie. Celie and Nettie spend a majority of the novel’s beginning together, in which Nettie teaches Celie how to spell many things, one of the most prevalent being “God”. We see how far she has come in her education when she begins one of her letters with “G-o-d” (27), as opposed to the usual phrase “Dear God” (25). As the novel progresses, her spelling of certain words improves, and her words indicate her dialect lesser and lesser so. While this introduction to her independence may be simple, it indicates that Celie is growing in several mannerisms, both of her time period and not.
As Celie gets older, we see her first gain financial independence as well. As small as it may seem, the mention of pants is overall evidence of Celie gaining some form of independence.
Pants are perceived as masculine and, in Celie’s time period, expensive. Most of us today take no mind in putting on a pair of pants, but for a woman of Celie’s status and background, it was a major statement of both women in general and leadership. According to Celie, “Mr. __ not going to let his wife wear pants” (146). This statement brings Celie’s upcoming independence from him into much more clarity than before. Here, she is not only going against her abusive and inattentive husband’s desires, but she is also making a statement to society as a woman, as well as a statement from the African-American community, which was less than respected in rural Georgia.
One of the other most prominent examples of Celie’s maturity and movement to independence is shown through her relationship with Shug. It is no secret that in The Color Purple, the men see women as objects who exist nothing more than for their sexual desires, or to continue the family line in some way or another. However, when Shug comes into the picture,
Celie experiences all sorts of new feelings that she hadn’t felt with a woman before. The two women have a sexual encounter that is partially for Shug to help Celie realize that God loves her no matter what she decides to do or who supposedly is controlling her, and partially for Celie to realize just how much of a degenerate Mr. __, as well as most men of that time period, actually were. Celie states that “[her] eyes [are] opening” and that she “feels like a fool” (179). Shug tells her that “Man corrupt everything… He try to make you think he everywhere… But he ain’t” (179). Celie then tells Nettie in her letter that “[Mr. __ ] been there so long, he don’t want to budge” (179), showing that not only does she now want to be away from Mr. __ and be independent, but she is now also willing to fight against him if he tries to hurt her in some new way, shape, or form. Celie realizing exactly how Mr. __ had been treating her as well as the other female members of society around him is an awakening for her, and her mindset completely changes from one of depending on her abusive, controlling husband to one of focusing on getting out of the situation in its entirety. At this point, Celie has matured greatly and become independent in her own mind.
At the novel’s beginning, Celie was a young girl of fourteen who had just been raped by her father and who was struggling to have some form of independence. Through the story of a flourishing young African-American woman through times of discrimination and adversities, she becomes wiser, accepts herself as she is through herself and God’s eyes, and becomes independent of those who were abusing her and her family members. In her final letter, she thanks “God, [the] stars, [the] trees, [the] sky, [and the] peoples” (249) for helping her realize everything that was going on in her life, as well as for keeping her younger sister safe in Africa before returning home. She thanks everything for keeping everyone safe and happy with one another, and thanks God a second time just to solidify how thankful she is that she is able to live the life she was finally able to. The Color Purple, while a long, confusing, and endearing story, is an enriching and beautifully imagined tale of loyalty and compassion between sisters and their experiences through time, and it is an excellent read for anyone who loves one’s movement into independence and new lifestyle.
The Color Purple by Alice Walker: a Complicated Feminist Text
Overcoming Oppression in Alice Walker’s The Color Purple
Women have been fighting to have an equal amount of rights as men throughout history. We have been thought of as property as well as simply being thrown to the side without much consideration in discussion. We have had to fight tooth and nail against men who care little about a woman’s opinion. This behavior has only changed a small amount over time. When the word ‘feminism’ is thrown around in conversation there are one of two ways it can be thought of. We can think of women overcoming oppression and fighting for gender equality or we can think about the negative connation it has been given. On the negative side people view feminists as women wanting to be ‘higher and mightier than men’. Those people think that we want to be better than men and when it becomes extreme, they think they have a right to tell us what we can and can’t do with out bodies or with our abilities. In the modern world these two sides are constantly being talked about and fought over. What I believe should be the received and accepted definition of ‘feminism’ is the former thought rather than the latter. We must think about women wanting to be equal to men in order to be able to achieve their goals in a world that is mainly controlled by the patriarch, and not as a group of people who wish to have grander views than their counterparts.
Alice Walker’s novel The Color Purple is received as a feminist text. The story is about a young girl named Celie and her fight to overcome the oppressive life she has been given. Celie writes letters to God and to her sister, Nettie, who she becomes separated from when they are young girls. In an article by Bülent Cercis Tanritanir titled “Letter-Writing As Voice of Women in Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook And Alice Walker’s The Color Purple”, it is stated, “In letter-writing, Celie uses the pen not only to confirm herself, not only to bridge the gap between self and other but often to rewrite the self, presenting a personal self-definition that refutes, replaces, or complements the identity” (2). This rings true to Celie’s situation due to Celie finding her identity through writing about her life whether it is to God or to her sister, which occurs in the novel. To understand how oppressed the main character was in the novel it must be noted that Celie is married off to a man twice her age that abuses her mentally and physically. The letters that Celie writes take the reader on a journey that shows how strong the bonds made in female friendships can be and how they can lift one person to gain confidence in themselves despite whatever awful situation they have been placed in. Through writing these letters and forming relationships with females in her life, Celie is able to find strength to overcome her fears as well as finding a second form of self-expression in making pants for her self and other women. This is what I aim to prove throughout this paper, which other scholars have not touched fully upon. The result of all that Celie has gone through leads to her making pants to have a way of regaining control in her life that she did not have for a very long time. The majority of articles that already exist establish that Celie was capable of finding herself through letter writing, but they do not address that this form of self-expression led her to finding another form of self expression through clothing making. My line of argument stems from the research I have done giving no result as a whole.
At the beginning of the novel Celie is a young girl of about fourteen who has already had to bear two children and have them taken away from her. This along with her need to act as mother to her own siblings forces her to grow up and lose any control she might have had in her childhood. The man she believes is her father abuses her both physically and mentally, telling her that she is ugly and undeserving of many things. At the end of the novel Celie is approximately fifty years old and has made a life for herself through her business of creating pants, and her major summon of self power to denounce the need for men at all in her life (Walker). Celie is able to perceive her desires and grow by acknowledging that she is a person who needs things that she would never herself to think of needing or deserving. This transformation in her person is accomplished through rebellion and friendship. In McKever-Floyd’s article, it is asserted that “Letter writing, the vehicle to Celie’s liberation and the reader’s entrée into the inner working of her life, constitute a ritual of rebellion.” This form of rebellion is also the first of two forms of self-expression that Celie is being familiarized with. The opening lines to her first letter are words that her ‘Pa’ has told her, “You’re going to do what your mammy wouldn’t” and “You better tell no one but God” (Walker 3). So what Celie does is just that. She tells God through letters that her life is hell on earth, and this is her form of rebellion, which later transforms into a bigger form of rebellion. Through letter writing Celie is finally telling others, particularly women that come into her life and teach her how to grow, that her life is miserable. From the beginning of this story Celie has it engrained in her mind that she is below men and that she must fear them. This fear is further progressed by more details in Celie’s letters, such as the fact that her Pa scorns her as “…evil and up to no good” (Walker 16).
As time goes on Pa remarries which lessens the strife in Celie’s life, and a man known as Mr. begins to come around with intentions to marry her sister, Nettie. Celie believes this is a perfect way for Nettie to escape the life they’re living telling her “…Marry him, Nettie, an try have one good year out your life” (Walker 7). Pa tells Mr. to take Celie instead. Men do not please Celie, since being raped when she was a child; the only thing that men do to Celie is scare her and upset her. Celie cannot be happy in a marriage to someone who originally did not even want her. She does not have the ability to communicate positively with the opposite sex or enjoy a sexual relationship with a man. In Celie’s mind her only outlet is to write about her experiences, and even then she feels like she is still missing something (McKever-Floyd). This is Celie’s chance to get away from Pa, but also marks her entrance into an abusive marriage. Nettie runs away from home and stays with Celie and Mr. for a short while, which happily and unhappily disrupts this new life. This disruption leads to Nettie being banned from her sister’s new home and in making a promise to Celie that she will write her. Nettie responds to this command with “Only death can keep me from it” (Walker 18). Celie never receives any letters from her sister and her only conclusion is that she is dead. McKever-Floyd asserts this occurrence as part of Celie’s transformation; he says that this process is one of Kenosis, which is emptying, and Plerosis, which is filling. Celie ultimately decides to empty her life of various things and this idea that her sister is dead begins the need to live a life where she is making relationships with other women around her, that moment is when the filling commences.
Towards the end of the novel Celie denounces men as a whole and decides to live a life where they have no say in the things that she does. With the help of Shug, Celie is able to figure out that Mr. had been hiding the letters Nettie had been sending her for a very long time. She finds these letters and claims that she’s going to stop writing her letters to god because “The God I been praying and writing to is a man. And act just like all the other mens I know. Trifling, forgetful, and lowdown” (Walker 199). In an attempt to help Celie with these angry feelings that she never allowed herself to feel or express verbally or in action, Shug lets Celie know that she will do what she can to help. To start off she helps her put the letters in order and to read them; Celie find out that her sister is alive and well in Africa with missionaries. These missionaries just so happen to have adopted Celie’s children who she believed her Pa had gotten rid of all those years ago. The filling is enhanced with this knowledge because it gives her a reason to live and to keep fighting against everything that is keeping her down. Celie continues this by finding love in a relationship with Shug who makes her feel safe and secure due to knowing how Mr. treats her and knowing about her family life when she was a child. Celie helped to nurse Shug back to health after Mr. brought her to their home sick and frail at the beginning of their marriage. Shug is able to assist Celie in the process of filling her life with good and a different form of God that Celie had never thought of. In another essay about change in Celie, Catherine A. Colton asserts that Shug is the one who really helps Celie realize that God is not who she made him out to be. Shug tells Celie “God is everything” (Walker 202). Shug continues with this thread by telling her of her own experience of not having a mother and that feeling things is okay, because feelings are a part of everything. It’s okay to feel like you are a part of everything and not just a part of the lonely life you are living.
Celie continues the Plerosis that McKever speaks of when she understands what Shug is saying about noticing things such a, “I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it (Walker 202). This new knowledge that Celie gains allows her to find the confidence she had been lacking to stand up to Mr. She tells him that she is moving to Memphis with Shug, and he responds with “Over my dead body” (Walker 206) as well as asking her what is wrong. She retorts by saying “You a lowdown dog is what’s wrong, I say. It’s time to leave you and enter into the Creation. And your dead body just the welcome mat I need” (Walker 207). Mr. can only muster what sounds like a motorboat to Celie. Colton makes the comment in her essay that “His ability to verbalize decreases while Celie’s newfound power is increasing” (Colton 37). This climactic event allows Celie to realize that she has the power to stand up to those who oppress her and say what is on her mind. At another moment in the novel Shug tells Celie that
“Man corrupt everything. He on our box of grits, in your head, and all over the radio. He try to make you think he everything. Soon as you think he everywhere, you think he God. But he ain’t. Whenever you trying to pray, a man plop himself on the other end of it, tell him to get lost. Conjure up flowers, wind, water, a big rock. But this hard work let me tell you. He been here so long, he don’t want to budge. Us fight. I hardly pray at all. Every time I conjure up a rock, I throw it” (Walker 204).
As soon as Celie is able to realize that she can fight them even with a measly rock, she is able to conjure up the strength to throw it. She is able to conjure up words that she can spew and fight with.
When it comes to female relationships in the novel, they are there to aid Celie in realizing that she has the confidence and support she needs to do thing alone. There is the sister relationship between Celie and Nettie, the friendship and intimate relationship that occurs between Shug and Celie, and other friendships such as the one between Sofia and Celie. These ties between the women help Celie gain confidence, as well as giving the other women the ability to also learn new things about themselves. In an essay by Courtney George, there is an extensive discussion between how the women in this novel are capable of working together to take over the oppressive men that try to control the things they do. These women work together to make themselves equal to the men who counter their views or fight against them. One prime example of this is Sofia, who is Celie’s stepson’s wife. Harpo is Sofia’s husband and he wants to be like his dad in the manner that he can get Celie to do what he wants. Mr. beats Celie into understanding that he is the one who calls the shots in the marriage and the household while Harpo can’t get Sofia to do anything he wants. One day Harpo talks to Celie and Celie suggests that he beat Sofia, when he tries to Sofia fights back. This is the first woman in the story to stand up against the man in her life. Sofia confronts Celie by saying that “All my life I had to fight. I had to fight daddy. I had to fight my brothers. I had to fight my cousins and my uncles… I loves Harpo, but I’ll kill him dead before I let him beat me” (Walker 143). This confrontation leaves Celie feeling terrible for meddling as well as simply hurting someone who was her friend. Sofia sticking up for her self is something that Celie is jealous of. Celie can’t do this because she’s never known how, she has always let people walk all over her and it is all she has ever known. Sofia has had to stand up to her abusers whether they were men or women. “Sofia retributively deals back the violence that is committed against her” (George 136) this is a lesson that Sofia inadvertently teaches Celie. Some may say that Celie could have simply told herself to act like Sofia, but when you’ve been talk your entire life that you are nothing compared to a man then you can’t simply change that state of mind on your own. That is why these female bonds allow Celie to acknowledge that she does have the capability to do what she wants. She can choose to follow the advice that is given to her, which she does end up doing, or she can remain in the shadows of those who believe are better than her and allow them to have control over her life. In the friendship that Celie forms with Shug, Celie finds someone that she can trust. At the beginning of the novel Shug understands that Mr. beats Celie. She tells Celie that she won’t leave “until Albert (Mr.) won’t even think about beating” her again (Walker 72). This support system that Celie has gained gives her confidence in being able to be alone with people who originally put her down and made her feel like garbage. By having the ability to be alone in her life Celie knows that she is destined to accomplish many things on her own.
By being someone who stands up for her self, Carla Kaplan dubs Celie a heroine in her essay titled “Somebody I Can Talk To: Teaching Feminism Through The Color Purple”. Kaplan says, “Walker gives us a heroine whose story works transformative magic…” (Kaplan 128). This is a very accurate description of Celie. Celie transforms from someone who cannot even muster the strength to stand up for herself, to someone who curses her own husband and leaves him unable to speak. Some of Celie’s most powerful words in Walker’s entire novel are “I’m poor, I’m black, I may be ugly and can’t cook, a voice say to everything listening. But I’m here” (Walker 207). Celie’s declaration of being present in the world is astounding for someone who has been through what she had gone through. Before Celie even makes this loud statement, Mr. is taunting her for leaving to Memphis with Shug. Celie tells Mr. that “Until you do right by me, everything you even dream about to fail… every lick you hit me you will suffer twice…” (Walker 206). With Celie’s final words to her husband she leaves her old life and is the hero of her own story.
The last idea that supports my thesis is that Celie creates things as the story progresses. She writes letters, making curtains, helps someone make a quilt, and ends up making a business of making pants for women. The creating of these items helps to join the women together in making something they can call their own as well as say to others that they created. In Catherine E. Lewis’s article titled “Serving, Quilting, Knitting: Handicraft And Freedom in The Color Purple”, it is said that “The women realize similar results from their fettered lives, the result being the creation of salable items to effect economic and psychological empowerment” (Lewis 3). This is exactly what Celie does, she realizes that she shares some form of relationship with the women in her life and when they are making something, whether it be a cloth item or a dinner, they are bonding together and reinforcing the friendship that they have. After Sofia confronts Celie about telling Harpo to beat her, the two women talk over cutting pieces of fabric. “Me and Sofia work on the quilt. Got it frame up on the porch” (Walker 62). This quilt becomes an emblem of unity amongst the women. Celie and Sofia make the quilt out of shared materials and even Shug donated old dresses into the effort. Lewis makes a comment that the quilt gives the women a sense of sorority that they can always look back to in time of need. These bonds that the women share help Celie grow in confidence and give her even more to create things by her self. With the help of Shug, Celie is able to embark on a new outlet for her rage and is able to turn this outlet into a way to escape her husband’s dominance. During the time period in which Celie’s story is set, men were the ones who exclusively wore pants. In a conversation between Shug and Celie, Shug tells her that they ought to make her some pants to which Celie responds with “’What I need pants for? I ain’t no man. Mr. not gonna let his wife wear no pants’ ‘Why not? You do all the work around here. It’s a scandless, the way you look out there plowing in a dress. How you keep from falling over it or getting the plow caught in it is beyond me’” (Walker 124). This starts endeavor of the pants. The women would read Celie’s hidden letters and sew together. By having this friendship with someone who is familiar with her husband, Celie has the approval of someone else to chase after her dreams. Not only does she make the pants for herself because it is a logical thing for her to do and to have, but because she has the sense that it will give her a way to overcome one little thing in her life.
In another essay about women’s handiwork and The Color Purple, Jennifer Martin makes the claim that Celie’s life is in a sense a quilt. There are all these pieces that are essentially scraps that need help being put together. The help comes from her life being unfortunate and needing to be put together by people who come into it. Mr. is a big character who begins the bringing together of the friendships because if it were not for him, then the women who Celie becomes very good friends with would not have come into her life. “Quilting for women is a means of creative self-expression through improvisation” (Martin 1). Martin is correct; this means of making something for Celie became an emblem of unity for her and the other women that she works on it with. This sense of unity works to combine all of her friend’s combined efforts to give Celie the confidence that she deserves throughout the entire novel.
In Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, women tolerate sexism, and gender discrimination. They unite together to form bonds of sisterhood and friendship that have the ability to lift others up and transform their lives. These women are able to realize their talents and their dreams, and sum up the courage to chase after them. As Kaplan asserts “By giving authenticity to female subjectivity there should be some ways to change women’s view of themselves and males’ view of women, there should not be any preconception of women’s subjectivity” (Kaplan 130). The way that women can change how they view themselves is through other women. We must join together in sisterhood and friendship to overcome the oppressive patriarch, as does Celie in this novel. Through thick and thin, Celie has friends who help her and build her up. In this novel, Walker provides the opportunity for females to learn how to defend themselves and gain individuality. Celie is able to do all these things and develop a role in society that is not dependent on anyone but herself. Through the connections within female friendship Celie is able to regain control in a life where she had lost every ounce of it. This control leads her to overcome by making pants. Pants the not only represent her denouncement of men, but also represent the friendships that she has worked so hard to create. Through healing and learning and doing what we love, we all can overcome whatever oppressive hand is being laid atop our lives.
The Fight For Female Independence As Portrayed In Alice Walker’S “The Color Purple”
This paper discusses early american feminism in the 1910s as portrayed in Alice Walker’s “The Color Purple”. The novel draws strong parallels to Virginia Woolf’s theories and introduces the true meaning of the feminist notion. As stated in Woolf’s critical essay “A room of one’s own”, social and economic independence are the founding pillars of female advancement in a patriarchal society. This essay is an exploration of the female struggle and fight for independence. Keywords: Female Independence, Early feminism, Social freedom, Economic freedom. Introduction Virginia Woolf writes “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction. ” (Woolf, Virginia. A room of one’s own. 1929) This is possibly one the most famous lines from her critical essay “A room of one’s own” in which she argues that women need economic and social freedom in order to advance in society as equal counterparts to men.
She refers to freedom and independence as a metaphorical room in which women have the space and time necessary to grow. The often-preconceived notion that the female contribution to science and literature is inferior, is relative to their circumstances. As the author proposes “It would have been impossible, completely and entirely, for any woman to have written the plays of Shakespeare in the age of Shakespeare. ” (Woolf, Virginia. A room of one’s own. 1929)1. Being stripped of rooms of their own, women have little to no opportunity to participate as equals in society. Women are habitually denied opportunities and forced into the duties of a wife and mother. They are routinely instructed to submit to, condescend and rely on the patriarchal figures in their life. The importance of economic freedom and its ability to aid in feminist development is emphasized throughout the entirety of the essay. Virginia Woolf states that “Intellectual freedom depends upon material things. Poetry depends upon intellectual freedom. ” (Woolf, Virginia.
A room of one’s own. 1929)1 Without money, the author implies, women will continue to remain in second place, overshadowed by the “more capable sex”. In other words, women must be able to afford their education and space to truly become independent. However, Woolf also hints that this equality of opportunity does not directly result in the melting away of differences between male and female. Discussion Throughout the entirety of Alice Walker’s novel “The Color Purple”, the reader experiences the violence and agony the protagonist, Celie, faces. She is obliged to trade the little independence she has, both economic and social, for a life of abuse and submission at an early age. As seen in the quote below, Celie’s desperation is prominent as she gradually becomes numb and accepts the harm she is exposed to. “I’m poor, I’m black, I may be ugly and can’t cook. (. . . ) But I’m here. ” (Walker, Alice. The Color Purple, 1929)Walkers original character truly portrays the female oppression in a male dominated society. Women like Celie were expected to marry, raise children and run the household without receiving support from their male counterparts. These rigid rules and norms deprived most women of education meaning, they could never achieve one of Woolf’s most emphasized necessities, economic independence.
The novel also highlights women showing the complete antithesis of Celie’s characteristics. The revolutionary figure, Shug Avery, is introduced early in the novel and portrays all aspects of independence as defined by Virginia Woolf. Unlike Celie, Shug Avery works as a singer and earns money giving her the sought-after economic independence. This allows for her to live out of wedlock which, in turn gives her social independence. “Good thing I ain’t your damn wife. ”(Walker, Alice. The Color Purple, 1929:47)2The quote above shows Shug Avery’s response to Celie’s husband in regards to how he treats his own wife. Shug Avery has “a room of her own” and fulfills the two requirements Woolf deems most important. Due to this, she is able to freely express herself in a more outspoken manor without any restraints. Celie is initially thrown aback and intrigued by Shug’s attitude which, indicates the rarity of independence amongst females during the 1910s. However, being independant comes at great cost for Shug Avery. She is routinely judged and disliked by many due to her profession and social standing. This adds a layer to the hardships women had to face in terms of becoming autonomous.
Examples of this can be seen in the way Celie tells her son in law to treat his “disobedient” wife. The quote below shows the ironic situation in which, women themselves encourage female abuse, either it be jealousy or fear. “Wives is like children. You have to let ‘em know who got the upper hand. Nothing can do that better than a good sound beating. ”(Walker, Alice. The Color Purple, 1929)2Shug Avery may be economically and socially independent but she will never be truly as free as any man. As Virginia Woolf herself states, equality of opportunity does not directly result in the melting away of differences between male and female. In a patriarchal society these changes happen slowly over extended periods of time. Shug Avery’s character portrays the beginning of the feminist movement which, eventually will spread and reach even the most oppressed women. ConclusionHistory and literature have taught us that economic and social independence are two prerequisites for the improvement of female rights. Through the years, the feminist movement has helped create a stronger social support for women and fought for female freedom. However, before equality between the sexes can truly be claimed, most customs and norms must become a memory of the past.
Review of the Character of Shug and Celie in Alice Walker’s Book, The Color Purple
‘Examine the developing relationship between Shug and Celie, from the moment Shug arrives to Sofia’s arrest’
From the first moment that Celie sees Shug (which is in picture form) she is immediately mesmerised by her, describing her as “The most beautiful woman I ever saw”. She even places her above her mother “She more pretty then my mama” which shows already how important Shug has become to Celie to the point where she compares her to her mother. She then begins to start dreaming about Shug in the picture “all night long I stare at it. An now when I dream, I dream of Shug Avery”. These descriptions mark the beginning of Celie’s obsession with Shug, and her aspiration to be with her. Whilst Celie is having sex with Mr, her thoughts of Nettie’s safety are taken over by the image of Shug having sex with Mr and says “I know what he doing to me he done to Shug Avery and maybe she like it. I put my arm around him”. As she is influenced by Shug, Celie thinks about how Shug would act and tries to copy her by attempting to enjoy it as well. Soon after this happens, Celie finds out that “Shug Avery is coming to town!”, however, Mr is going alone and Celie says “Lord, I wants to go so bad. Not to dance. Not to drink. Not to play card. Not even to hear Shug Avery sing. I just be thankful to lay eyes on her” which shows her desperation just to be able to finally see Shug in the flesh, instead of only in her dreams.
Celie hears about Shug being sick and having nobody to take her in because she’s a “tramp” and has “some kind of nasty woman disease” Despite hearing all these bad comments about Shug, when Mr suddenly brings Shug into the house, Celie writes “Come on in, I want to cry. To shout. Come on in. With God help, Celie gong to make you well”. This shows how Celie doesn’t care about anybody else’s opinions on Shug as all her thought processes revolve around Shug. It also shows Celie’s maternal instincts; just as how she is like a mother to Nettie, and wants to welcome her into her arms and keep her safe to herself. This is a crucial point in the relationship between Celie and Shug as Celie no longer has to dream about her, she can now be with her in real life and grow further as a person as she aspires to be as free as Shug is.
Celie is shown to have sexual thoughts for the first time when she says “First time I got the full sight of Shug Avery long black body with it black plum nipples, look like her mouth, I thought I had tuned into a man.” Celie is shocked as she notices she is starting to think like a man, showing how in this time setting, only men were allowed to express sexual thoughts, whilst women were not even expected to even think sexually – Shug is an exception to this as she expresses herself sexually, which Celie looks up to and compares herself to a man thinking about Shug. This quote also confirms to reader that Celie and Shug have a sexual one-sided relationship, with Shug none the wiser about Celie’s feelings whilst Celie is completely besotted by Shug.
The relationship between Shug and Celie begins to develop even further when Shug makes a song inspired by Celie whilst Celie is doing Shug’s hair, saying “Something came to me…Something I made up. Something you help scratch out my head”. This is the first significant time that Shug devotes something to Celie and shows the start of Shug beginning to see Celie as a friend. After spending time with Shug sewing cloths together, Celie says “For the first time in my life, I feel just right” showing how Celie is truly happy for the first time in her life now she is spending time with Shug and has been able to get closer to her. It also marks the building up of Celie’s identity as she is finally starting to over on from her unfortunate past that has held her down and look to the future now Shug is in her life.
Celie begins to question the practicality/normality of her love for Shug as she realises both her and her husband Mr are in love with Celie, leading Celie to be “confuse”. As it was unheard of for people of the same-sex to be in love with one another at this point in time, Celie has noticed that and realises “that the way it spose to be”, as she knows she cannot be with Shug even though she loves her. However this despair is quickly changed for the better as Shug sings to Celie, which Celie says in response, “First time somebody made something and name it after me”. Celie is final happy and content as Shug cares about her more than anyone else has before.
The roles in the relationship are reversed as Shug becomes the maternal figure in the relationship when trying to protect Celie after being shocked to find out that Mr beats Celie. Shug says “I won’t leave… until I know Albert won’t even think about beating you”. This is the opposite of Shug’s previous role in the relationship in which she was cared for by Celie when she first arrived very unwell, and knowing how she helped her, Shug now wants to protect Celie like how she did to her before.
Self-Reflection and Maturity in the Transformation of Celie in The Color Purple, a Novel by Alice Walker
The Color Purple, by Alice Walker tells a story of a young girl named Celie. The book is formatted as an journal so that daily experiences can be shared through the voice of Celie. In the beginning, readers learn that she lives in a life of recurring hardship, confusion, and turmoil. Readers also learn that she is insecure, but hopeful in finding a way to get through these hardships. However at the end of the novel, readers see a transformation that one would call inspiring. Some would say that what made her through this transformation is self reflection and maturity. However, from what readers can see it was because of the growing relationships with Nettie, Mr__, and Shug. Due to them, Celie is able to have a sense of dependency with her sister, forgive the people that hurted her, and to love someone else and herself.
In these entries of her journal, readers can see a shift from speaking about Nettie to God to where she actually has conversations with Nettie and they discuss many things as they write to each other. However the most compelling thing about some of these conversations, is that readers see how Celie has become more attached and more dependent on Nettie. . For example, in the ending of one of her entries she writes “ Pray for me, Your Sister Celie”, it shows that she looks for Nettie’s guidance as she is facing an adversity, similarity when she was looking guidance from God ( Walker 3). This shift also shows that Celie who she thought needed to protect her sister from adversity , has realized that she can not be strong all the time and can now look for protection in her sister because Nettie ended up being her strength.
Also in these entries, readers learn about what Mr____. feels about Celie. He explains to Celie, “ I wanted to kill you, said Mr___ and I did slap you around a couple of times. I never understood how you and Shug got along so well together and it bothered the hell out of me. When she was mean and nasty to you, I understood. But when I looked around and the two of you was always doing each other’s hair, I start to worry..” ( Walker 10). This quotation gives light to Mr______ and the his issues of acceptance toward Celie not meeting up to his expectations of her. Due to this conversation, readers see that Celie and Mr___ are similar in where they have issues of acceptance. In Celie learning about this, she has exclaimed that she does not hate him because by saying that discussion, this has made him into someone who she describes as “ when you talk to him now he really listen” ( Walker 7). Therefore, this discussion with Mr___, it has enable her to later to forgive Mr___ and anyone else that has harmed her.
In the beginning, readers learn that Celie finds a picture of Shug Avery and she makes the goal to be as beautiful as she is and finds herself embodying her in her marriage to Mr___. As she is a lot older now, readers start to see that Shug is with her and they a strong bond to each other. In this quote “ What I love best bout Shug is what she been through, I say. When you look in Shug’s eyes you know she been where she been, seen what she seen, did what she did. And now she know.” it shows that this relationship is embedded in understanding each others struggle and coming back from it with a new pair of lenses. Due to this, sees Shug as an strong, independent woman that she would like herself to be. This bond later taught Celie how to love someone else and potentially herself. In this quote “ My job just to love her good and true myself….I have love and I have been love and I thank God let me gain understanding enough to love can’t be halted just cause some people’s moan and groan….I have love Shug Avery all my life ” it sheds light on how through this relationship it has made her realize that God helped her understand that in order to love someone and herself , it should not be broken because of not so good experiences ( Walker 10).
Through out The Color Purple, readers see the development of Celie from a young girl to a mature woman. They see that as a young girl, she was insecure and she depended on God to help herself and help her cope through her disturbing experiences, but can also see her resilience and her dedication to the things that mean the most to her. Now as a mature woman, readers also see that her transformation would not have been as inspirational if it wasn’t through the influences of her relationships with Nettie, Mr___ and Shug. Through Nettie’s relationship she is able to have talk to Nettie, which enabled Celie to be more open with her sister and have dependence on her . As for Mr__’s she is able to understand him a lot more through their discussions, therefore, teaching her acceptance for the people that have harmed her. Lastly, Shug’s relationship is focused on the love they have for each other, therefore, teaches her how to love someone else and eventually love herself through God’s eyes. In conclusion, in any transition in life, people fail to recognize that relationships are crucial to the overall development of an individual. Whether these relationships are good ones or the bad ones, ( bad ones in Celie’s case) it teaches lessons that can not be taught through self reflection or maturity, but lessons that can be taught through the relationships of other people.