Alice Walker The Color Purple 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 very hard 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 wouldnt. (1) She has had two babies by him already, and hes 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 doesnt do anything about her situation, because shes used to being treated like that.
Shes 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 hes 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. Its not so much he wants a relationship, he just wants someone to take care of things for him so he doesnt have to do much, and he wants something else when he wants it.
Her father even tells Mr. that She ugly.. But she aint no stranger to hard work. And she clean. And God fixed her.
You can do everything just like you want to and she aint 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 dont finish. (23) She tells God about how He beat me like he beat the children… Cept he dont 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. Thats 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 isnt 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 hasnt. So Mr.
tells him he should, because 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. (37) While he may have thought he gave his son some good advice, when Harpo tries it, Sophia knocks him right back into place by beating 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 away with it. Shes just coping with things as they are because that was the way shed always been raised and treated. Its 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 the same. Sophia finally leaves Harpo because of the way she is treated, but Celie finds out that shes not so lucky when she shows her attitude to the Mayor and his wife in town one day.
When shes asked if shed like to be a maid, she replies Hell, no. When the mayor asks her 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 couldnt get away with it around everyone. The other person that changes Celies 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 couldnt 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 of Celie 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 wasnt Shug. After some 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 a mate, even though Shug is not a man. Over the years they get closer and closer, and one night, even though …