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The Color Purple

Better Essays
The Results of Celie’s Physical and Mental Abuse

In 1982 Alice Walker titled her Pulitzer Prize Winning novel, The Color Purple, which is symbolically meant to reflect radiance and majesty (Columbia). It is a story, entirely conveyed through letters, of one young black girl’s struggle to escape the brutal and degrading treatment by men, which had become a constant part of her life. Instead of focusing on race throughout the novel Walker accords “greater importance to power, the power to be, to concretize one’s self, as to mold others” (Dieke 102). This completely unbalanced power ultimately leaves Celie feeling alone and controlled, which affects her relationships with men and influences her relationship with women, mainly Shug Avery. The horrifying effects of rape and what Celie thought was incest so greatly scarred her for the rest of her life that she lost the ability to love, became confused about her sexuality, and subconsciously denied her right to an identity.
For a considerable amount of time Celie blindly accepted the fact that she would be treated like a slave in her own home. As a result, Celie demonstrated intense fear and a complete lack of love toward her husband. Because Mr. _____ had originally wanted to marry Celie’s older sister Nettie he felt that in settling for Celie he had the right to treat her as his property. Celie was completely aware of these arrangements “Mr. _____ marry me to take care of his children. I marry him cause my daddy made me. I don’t love Mr. _____ and he don’t love me” (Walker 57). As opposed to most marriages being based on trust, love, and commitment, their bond was based on authority, obedience, and service. Mr. _____ immediately brings Shug Avery into his home when he heard that she was sick so that Celie could take care of her along with his children from a previous marriage. After a short period of time Celie learns about their past and about Mr. _____’s current feelings for Shug. Celie’s blatant disregard to Mr. _____ sleeping with Shug again displays complete apathy toward her husband. Mr. _____’s aggressively dominant role does not denote the conventional husband/wife relationship it seems to more closely represent a master/slave relationship. Mr. _____’s constant oppressive presence causes Celie to live in continuous fear. Celie explains that M...

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...novel Celie’s traumatic experiences have had a great impact on the entirety of her life. Once married she constantly lived in fear being incapable of love and unable to control her misguided sexual emotions.

Bibliography

Bradley, David. “Novelist Alice Walker: Telling the Black
Woman’s Story.” New York Times Magazine 8 Jan. 1984: 24-37.

Dieke, Ikenna. Critical Essays on Alice Walker. Westport:
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Gates, Henry Louis Jr. and K.A. Appiah. Alice Walker
Critical Perspectives Past and Present. NewYork:
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http://www.Womenshistroy.about.com

“Race and Domesticity in The Color Purple” African American
Review 29 #1 Spring 1995:67-82.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition Copyright 2001
Columbia University Press.

Walker, Alice. The Color Purple. Orlando: Harcourt Brace
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Walsh, Margaret. “The Enchanted World of the Color Purple.”
Southern Quarterly 25 (1987): 89-101.