The Color Purple, by Alice Walker

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The Color Purple by Alice Walker is an epistolary novel criticized for its immoral and sensitive issues, such as incest, rape, and physical abuse. The story takes place in the early 1900's in the South, and symbolizes the unmerciful social, emotional, and economic hardships that African American women faced. The protagonist of the story is Celie, a woman who has been abused since her youth and documents her struggles through letters written to God and eventually to her sister Nettie, who is a missionary in Africa. Her sister’s experiences in Africa are a direct correlation to Celie’s life in America and emphasizes key themes in the novel, such as sexism, racism and power struggle, and the importance of women working together to overcome their barriers. Despite Alice Walker receiving a substantial amount of criticism about her novel and her portrayal of African Americans, through all the negativity she hints to a better future for generations to come through the development of characters throughout the story.
In The Color Purple, Alice Walker portrays a patriarchal lifestyle for women in the early 1900’s. With a hierarchy of male dominance, Celie has always been inferior to the men in her life. Celie’s battle through misogyny mirrors the expected gender roles and struggles that Nettie faces in African culture. In both worlds, women are considered subordinate and therefore expected to accommodate to the needs and desires of the men around them. With the fear of domestic violence from their spouses, women rarely stood up for themselves and remained submissive; however Alice Walker puts a strong female character in her novel to highlight the contrast between men and women. Sofia is Celie’s polar opposite, she is a woman ahead of her...

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... history, civil rights history, and the history of a group of women coming together and making a difference. Readers from all walks of life find themselves touched by the novel’s narrator, Celie, as they see her as a young girl crying for help, until she blossoms into strong, unconquerable women. Alice Walker uses Nettie’s experiences in African culture to both compare and contrast with Celie’s experience with African American culture. The novel is written in raw realism that has attracted a notable amount critical commentary for pressing on controversial topics such as rape, domestic violence, and all forms of abuse. However through these issues Alice Walker hints for a better and brighter future for the generations to come as a result of character growth through this moving novel.

Works Cited

Walker, Alice. The Color Purple. London: Women's Press, 1992. Print.
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