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The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Essay by   •  March 13, 2011  •  Research Paper  •  2,230 Words (9 Pages)  •  1,664 Views

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The Color Purple by Alice Walker is the story of a poor black woman living in the south between World War 1 and World War 2. This was at a time when, although slavery had ended,many women were still virtually in bondage, and had to put up with many conditions that was reminiscent of the days of slavery. The problem was that they had to endure being treated like an inferior being by their own families sometimes, as well as from the white people that lived there. It was a life that was filled with misery for many black women, and they felt helpless to do anything about their situations.The book focuses mainly on a woman named Celie, who has lived a hard life already when, at the age of 14 she begins writing letters to God to have someone to confide in,and tell her thoughts and secrets to. In her first letter, she says "I have always been a good girl. Maybe you can give me a sign letting me know what is happening to me." (1) Already at that age she has been taking care of her brothers and sister, and has been working veryhard at trying to get something of an education. On top of this, she has been raped by her father repeatedly because, as he says, "You gonna do what your mammy wouldn't." (1)She has had two babies by him already, and he's taken both of them away right after they were born. She thinks at first he might have killed one of them, but later finds out that he sold them to a couple in town.Celie doesn't do anything about her situation, because she's used to being treated like that. She's scared, and she fears for her sister Nettie too, when her Pa starts looking at her the same way. Eventually, a man referred to as Mr. ______ comes along and wants to marry Nettie, but he's too old for her, and ends up marrying Celie. He takes a couple of months to think it over, but goes ahead and marries her because he needs someone to watch over his kids, and besides, she will bring the cow she was raising along. It's not so much he wants a relationship, he just wants someone to take care of things for him so he doesn't have to do much, and he wants something else when he wants it. Her father even tells Mr. ____ that "She ugly... But she ain't no stranger to hard work. And she clean. And God fixed her. You can do everything just like you want to and she ain't gonna make you feed it or clothe it." (9)As soon as she is married, she is being abused by Mr. _____. She has to work the fields, raise his children (one of which splits her head open with a rock on the day she gets married), and endure beatings whenever he gets mad about something and wants to take it out on her. One time when Mr. _____ is asked by his son Harpo why he beats Celie, he tells him "Cause she my wife. Plus, she stubborn. All women good for- he don't finish."(23) She tells God about how "He beat me like he beat the children.... Cept he don't never hardly beat them. He say, Celie, git the belt. The children be outside the room peeking through the cracks. It all I can do not to cry. I make myself wood. I say to myself, Celie, you a tree. That's how come I know trees fear man." (23)And so life goes on for her, until she meets a couple of women that change her life around. The first woman she meets is Sophia, who marries Harpo. She isn't afraid to stand up for herself, even to a man. When Mr. _____ asks Harpo if he ever hits her, Harpo is embarrassed, and answers that he hasn't. So Mr. ______ tells him he should, because "Wives is like children. You have to let Ð''em know who got the upper hand. Nothing can do that better than a good sound beating." (37) While he may have thought he gave his son some good advice, when Harpo tries it, Sophia knocks him right back into place bybeating him up instead. When Celie and Sophia talk about Mr. _____, Sophia tells her "You ought to bash Mr. _____ head open."(37), but she knows she would never get awaywith it. She's just coping with things as they are because that was the way she'd always been raised and treated. It's almost normal to her, but at the same time, she admires the way Sophia can fend for herself, and I think she wished she was brave enough to do thesame.Sophia finally leaves Harpo because of the way she is treated, but Celie finds out that she's not so lucky when she shows her attitude to the Mayor and his wife in town one day. When she's asked if she'd like to be a maid, she replies "Hell, no." When the mayor asksher what she said, she repeats it, and he slaps her. With that, Sophia hits him back, and ends up getting beaten up herself, and put in jail. She gets out after Mr. ____ and some others come up with a plan, but has to spend the rest of her sentence as a maid, living under the house where she is working off the rest of her time. The lesson for Celie (and others) is that although Sophia got away with standing up to Harpo and other black people, she found out that she couldn't get away with it around everyone.The other person that changes Celie's life and finally gives her some self confidence is Shug Avery, a singer that coincidentally was in love with Mr. _____ years before. They wanted to get married, but couldn't because he was forced to marry another woman that was arranged for him. In another kind of twist, Shug is very mean to Celie when she first arrives at their house to get over being sick, and it is because she is somewhat jealous ofCelie being married to the man she wanted to marry. Also, one of the reasons that Mr.____ beat Celie sometimes was because he was married to her, and she wasn't Shug. Aftersome time, the two women get to talking and find that they do like each other, eventually ending up being just more than friends. They form a strong friendship, and Celie finally realizes what it is like to be in love with someone else, not like a sister, but more like amate, even though Shug is not a man.Over the years they get closer and closer, and one night, even though Shug had gotten married to a man named Grady, they talk about Celie's life. She tells Shug that "Mr.____ come git me to take care his rotten children. He never ast me nothing bout myself. He clam on top of me and fuck and fuck, even when my head bandaged. Nobody ever love me." (117) Shug replies "I love you, Miss Celie." And then she haul off and kiss me onthe mouth.(118)With Shug on her side, and making her feel that she is worth something besides being a servant for everyone but herself, she finally starts to get some self worth. The breaking point is after years of not having any contact with her sister Nettie (she had run away afterher father tried to get her, too, and ended up living with Celie for a short time until Mr.____ tried the same thing), she finds all of the letters that Nettie had written her since she had gone. Mr._____

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