Book Reports / The Color Purple

The Color Purple

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Autor:  anton  06 December 2010
Tags:  Purple
Words: 2751   |   Pages: 12
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Section 1 Celie’s Awakening

The novel The Color Purple, by Alice Walker is a story about the struggle and the transformation of the protagonist Celie from a shy little girl that never stood up for herself who later on in her life developed into a strong confident and independent woman. Her awakening is due in large parts to the many female figures she met throughout her life. These figures are her sister Nettie, Mr.____’s sister Kate, Harpo’s wife Sofia, and the singer Shug Avery.

The setting of the story is in the early 1900’s in a small town in Georgia. The story is told in a first person narrative by the main character Celie. Celie starts out as a quiet character that lets everyone around her run all over her without standing up for her self. The story starts off as Celie being a young fourteen year old girl describing the physical and sexual abuse in which she has to endure by her step father. During Celie’s teen years, she had been impregnated twice by her father and both babies were taken from her at birth. One day a man whom Celie always referred to as Mr.____ came by the house of Celie’s father Alfonso and asked for his daughter Nettie’s hand in marriage. His offer was refused but Celie was offered instead. It took Mr.____ roughly four months to make up his mind but in time he did and accepted Celie’s hand in marriage.

This marriage is anything but joyful to Celie. Just as her step father Alfonso did, Mr.____ physically and sexually abused her. One day Celie’s little sister Nettie ran away from home to escape the abuse of their father and came to live with Celie. Mr.____ wastes no time on making passes at Nettie. After not giving into his advances, Nettie is forced to leave. Nettie taught Celie how to read before she left because Nettie was the more educated one. Nettie promised to always write Celie but after not hearing from Nettie throughout the years, Celie presumed that Nettie had died. Mr.____ has had an obsession with a woman by the name of Shug Avery for many years, even while he was with his first wife. Shug is described to be a beautiful dark skinned woman that is a musical performer. Celie admires Shug ever since she sees her photograph. Celie even has dreams about Shug. One day Shug comes by and her and Celie become friends, not instantly but they do. Shug taught Celie how to feel beautiful about her self. Shug also discovers the mail that was sent to Celie from Nettie that is proof to Celie that Nettie had not been dead all these years.

There were many other important figures in the story that helped Celie with her awakening. Miss Sophia was a strong and tough woman that showed Celie that there are women out there that aren’t afraid to stand up for them self. Kate is Mr.____’s sister that also encouraged Celie to stand up for herself. While reading all the mail in which Mr.____ had hid from Celie throughout their marriage, Celie began to slowly transform from a shy little girl that took beatings and abuse to a strong willed independent woman that eventually stood up to her husband and left him in the process. By doing so, Celie reclaimed her life and also meets back up with her sister Nettie and children whom had been living in Africa.

Section 2 The Color Purple Analysis

Author Alice Walker uses different types of women characters to each in their own way help with the awakening and growth of the protagonist Celie. Celie meets different women throughout the different stages and periods of her life and all gives her different advice as to how to break away from the “invisible” person she prefers to be.

At the start of the novel, Celie can be described as shy, quiet, unresponsive, and ignorant. Celie would take beatings from both her father and husband without trying to defend her self. Celie is quoted in saying, “It all I can do not to cry. I make myself wood. I say to myself, Celie, you a tree (Walker 22).” The author uses a first person narrative to show the readers exactly what Celie is thinking throughout the novel. Readers can easily see the Celie has a low self-esteem and by saying something like the quote above, practically no “fight” in her. Celie however with the help of another character in the novel by the name of Shug Avery, begins to break away from this type of personality and begins her inner transformation. The author places a variety of different black women in the novel, each in their own way helping Celie by giving her advice. Take Nettie for example; she told Celie “You got to fight. You got to fight (Walker 17).” The author uses Nettie to help change the look in which Celie has on life. The life in which Celie is living is unhealthy and it doesn’t give anyone the chance to see how great of a person she really is behind all the bruises and aprons. Another character that helped Celie in her transformation is Kate whom is the sister of Celie’s husband Mr.____. She sees how well Celie keeps the house and comments on how she shouldn’t stand for the abuse that is put on her by Mr.____. Kate can be quoted as saying “You got to fight Celie; I can’t fight for you (Walker 21).” This shows readers that even though Celie listened to the words of encouragement of her sister, she still hasn’t made her change into a strong willed woman as of yet. Celie still lets Mr.____ and his children run all over her.

The author lets readers know Celie’s every emotion towards her surroundings through a technique of telling everything to God. These letters to God in which Celie is writing shows readers the inner thoughts of Celie and how good of a person she really is. It also lets readers know that even kind people that never did anything to deserve such harsh abuse can become subjected to it back in the Celie’s time period. It also shows that God is practically all that she has in her life besides her sister. These conversations are also a good way of readers to track Celie’s progress in her inner emancipation might one call it.

Through these letters, readers can get even more of an in depth view of how soft spoken Celie really is. It even revealed slight changes that are evidence of a change to come. After reading letters from Nettie, the reader can notice slight changes in the way Celie behaves. She goes off with Shug to find her “Pa” whom Nettie told Celie is not their real father. Readers can notice that Celie is on her way to self discovery. After reading the letters from Nettie, Celie now no longer writes to God, she now writes to Nettie. This is perhaps the most defining moment of Celie’s transformation. Readers especially notice the emancipation at the dinner table at Odessa’s (Sophia’s sister) house. The protagonist Celie finally stoop up for herself and let the voice which she had been hiding all these years be heard. Readers witness a drastic change in attitude which is not like anything the old Celie would do. The reader is now reading about an entirely new Celie. Celie can be quoted as saying; “You a lowdown dog is what’s wrong. It’s time for me to leave you and enter Creation. And your dead body just the welcome mat I need (Walker 199).” Readers notice that Celie has finally developed into a woman of her own. Celie’s development is finally over and can finally take charge of her life.

The novel also contains many different themes; however one of the most notable would have to the dominant male roles. Throughout the novel, the author gives the male characters dominant roles and are more like slave owners than husbands. The author portrays the men in the novel as uncaring and unsatisfied with their wives. The author reinforces the men of the novel by making them abusive and discontented with their wives to further prove her opinion that any woman can overcome the harsh reality of how they are living if they chose to.

Another theme in the novel is female relationships. This is probably the most important theme of all. It is through her friends whom Celie met throughout her life that she finally is able to stand on her own two feet. The author uses the other female characters to help show the strong bondage women, especially black women, should have and how they should stick together to support one another.

Section Three

The novel The Color Purple by Alice Walker is no stranger to the media and press. The novel won a variety of different awards such as the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. The book has been banned from many different learning institutions because of a variety of different reasons. Some of these reasons are the same sex love affair of Celie and Shug, the explicit language, the images she portrays of black men. However after learning about the author Alice Walker and where she came from, writing a novel like “The Color Purple” does not seem as much farfetched.

Alice Walker was born February 9th 1944 in Georgia and was the last of eight children. After leaving high school as valedictorian, Walker attended college at Spelman. Spelman is located in Atlanta Georgia and is a well known college for black women. She became very involved African American activism. This is probably where all the inspiration to write such a novel came from. After being at an all girl school, Alice Walker noticed that there was and still is a need for women, especially black women, empowerment. Learning about the many advances and work that women have made throughout the years practically goes unrecognized in today’s modern society. However, many critics chose to bash Alice Walker and her book. According to blackcollegian.com, her critics accused Alice Walker of “having a deep hatred of black people.” This however cannot be true because Alice Walker has done much work with different black people around the United States. According to an online biography of Alice Walker, she has been active in many civil rights movements from the 1960’s through the 1990’s.

Alice Walker also serves as an inspiration to many young and older people across the world. One of the people that Alice inspired is Cornell Womack which is a Doctoral student at the University of Pittsburg. Womack can be quoted as saying “Alice has left an important legacy for young people in that she remains a simple, unpretentious woman who's interested in adding her wisdom and commitment to the movement, not in being a star.” This is truly words of encouragement and if one person can feel this way, there are probably many others that feel the same. Alice Walker is a humanitarian, and even though everyone is entitled to their own opinion, most of what is said about Alice is incomprehensible. How can a racist woman have such a deep passion for the civil rights movement is what I would say. She also attended a predominantly black college. As I stated before, Alice Walker was the valedictorian of her class and that pretty much means she has the choice to go to a variety of top notch accredited programs across the nation but she chose to attend a college that she could learn a lot more about her roots and where she came from.

Walker is also criticized because of the bisexuality of the main character Celie in her book. Walker portrays men as vicious humans with no respect for women in her novel. This has a lot to do with why Celie turns out to be more attracted to women. I think that Alice does this because she finds that men aren’t as careful and sympathetic as women are. I’m not sure why Alice Walker has this feeling towards men; my guess is that it is because her brother shot her in the eye with a BB gun as a child which permanently blinded her. She would do nothing throughout high school but read and write. This accident really had a huge impact on the way Alice Walker carried about her life. It is in their nature for men to be adventurous and play around as kids, so this is probably why Alice does not like men as much as others would like her to.

Section Four

The novel “The Color Purple” is truly an enjoyable piece of work to read. The book is not boring because it has many controversial parts. This is what makes the book even more memorable, so that is why I do not agree with all the negative criticism in which the author Alice Walker had to endure.

The part that struck me the most however is, why would Celie stay with Mr.____ after he kicked Nettie out of the house? In my opinion, this part is not logical because I do not know anyone that would stay at a place like that especially after losing their sister. What I would have done is run away with Nettie and leave Mr.___ and all his bad children. I still to this day do not know what held Celie back from not running away with Nettie. I would have been right behind Nettie if I were in Celie’s position.

I also would like to know why all the men in the story were portrayed as not important and unkind humans. Walker seems to create the novel all around the strength of the sisterhood in which Celie created for hers elf in the town. There was not one male character in the whole novel in which Celie respected. Celie doesn’t turn to not one male character for guidance or help throughout the whole novel. There is even a part in which she stops writing letters to God because he’s a male. This shocked me because it had shown me a reader exactly how deep of a dislike that Celie has for men. She is willing to stop talking to God for the simple fact that he is a man. I cannot blame her for doing so, because every man whom she has come into contact with over the course of her life has been mean to her. I think that the author had a reason behind portraying men the way she did and it is like I stated in the previous section. I think the author’s brother messed up her childhood with the disfigurement he gave her with the BB gun, and this gave Alice a reason to have an aggression towards men. This again is just my opinion of why I think the author portrays men in a negative light.

I also like the way the author gives Celie a sister like structure in which inspires her to break away from the ordinary and decide to make a change in the way she is living her life. My favorite character would have to be Ms. Sofia because she has the mentality of what I think all women should have. Sofia does not want to fight but she will if she has to. She is the embodiment of what a strong independent black woman should be. She does not stay and take the abuse from Harpo, even though she fought back. Sofia stayed to give her children a chance at having both a loving father and mother but I can understand why enough would be enough and that she left. She is an all around good person and I felt sorry for her all throughout the novel. From punching the mayor’s wife to all the abuse that was put on her by Harpo, it had had to have been hard on Sofia. She also made me laugh when she gave Celie the advice to “bash Mr.____’s head open and think about heaven later (Walker 42).” It shows that although she is a woman, she isn’t afraid to stand up go toe to toe with any man.



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