Evolution of the Characters in Alice Walker's Color Purple

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Evolution of the Characters in The Color Purple

The most important aspect of The Color Purple is the growth and maturity of each individual. There is a huge transition of many of the characters from the beginning to the end of the novel. This evolution of the characters is a recurring theme that runs throughout the novel and can be tracked by Celie’s letters. The women struggle for freedom in a society where they are inferior to men. Towards the end of the novel one can sense the slow evolution towards the increasing empowerment of women.

The strongest example of women’s empowerment is Celie’s character. She’s a victim of racism, men, sexual roles, and social injustices. Celie begins the novel completely powerless, repeatedly raped and beaten. The only person she can turn to is G-d. She is extremely disempowered by sex. Celie describes sex as something that is done to her, but never as something that she enjoys. Thus, sex with Mr.____ reduces her status to that of an object that lies there and waits for it to be over.

The turning point in Celie’s life is the arrival of Shug Avery, who teaches her things she never would have known. Her arrival first places Celie at the low point of her life because now, along with everything else, she becomes a servant to Shug. What she didn’t know was that Shug’s arrival actually acts as a catalyst to her own empowerment. Celie says, “For the first time in my life, I feel just right.”

Shug Avery is very different from most of the character’s portrayed in the novel. She’s much stronger then most of the women and stands up for what she believes. Shug definitely wasn’t the typical woman of those times. She was a figure representing female blues performers such a...

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...nd obeys Harpo just like Celie behaves and it’s so obvious that Celie is even able to notice it. She tells Squeak, “Make Harpo call you by your real name” but Squeak has no response and just looks at Celie puzzled.

When Squeak is first introduced in the novel as Harpo’s girlfriend she gets her front teeth knocked out by Sophia. After this she still stays with Harpo. Furthermore, she even goes to the mayor to support Sophia and attempt to get her out of prison. After being raped by the mayor, Squeak declares to everyone, “My name Mary Agnes.” She is able to recuperate and bounce back from her uncle raping her rather than be defeated. She asserts herself as an individual and stipulates respect by insisting she be called by her real name.

Works Cited

1. http://www.lambda.net/~maximum/rainey.html

2. Bessie Smith collection

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