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The Color Purple by Alice Walker
The Color Purple

Georgeann, April 30, 2009

Alice Walker successfully conveys various social issues through a distinct style and point-of-view in her award winning novel, The Color Purple. Her novel is written in Epistolary form, meaning it is structured through letterforms. Walker’s use of vernacular dialect in the letters, which she coined as “Black Folk English,” gives the novel an informal style to seem less intimidating towards men and women. Alice Walker breaks a racial barrier by writing about less than perfect African Americans in The Color Purple.

There are parallels between Alice Walker’s background and the protagonist’s, Celie’s, experiences. She was born in Eatonton, Georgia on a rural farming community, which is similar to the setting of The Color Purple. At the age of eight Walker was accidentally blinded in one eye by her brothers. She resorted to writing and poetry to fight the loneliness and alienation she received from her family. By the age of 14, she had her cataract in her eye removed and regained much of the confidence she lost. Moreover her situation is much like Celie’s, in the fact that at a young age she struggled with family and alienation.

The Color Purple begins by introducing Celie and her abusive father. To escape the pain, she resorts to writing letters addressed to “Dear God.” These letters serve as her diary while God represents someone to talk to. She shares her traumatizing experiences with God. Her father rapes her and also forces her into a marriage with Albert, more so known as Mr. ______. To her dismay, he also abuses her. Celie begins to realize that all the men in her life only cause her pain. She even says, “I don’t even look at mens. That’s the truth. I look at women, tho, cause I’m not scared of them”(5). Just when she thinks life cannot get much worse, Shug, Mr._______ ex-girlfriend, arrives and becomes her best friend. Shug recognizes Celie’s weakness towards men and Mr.________. She says, “I won’t leave…until I know Albert won’t even think about beating you”(75). Shug provides Celie a support system, and teaches her about sex, God, and the power of love. Celie begins to question why she believes in God, why she puts up with her husband’s abuse, and why “it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it”(196). Overall, Celie must learn to overcome her flaws of weakness by answering all the questions that cause her pain.

The Color Purple effectively suggests that woman have the power of a voice to make a difference in the world. Alice Walker uses her voice to break a racial barrier that exists between some whites and blacks. She did so by characterizing imperfect African Americans within her novel. Walker avoids stereotyping by conveying a larger statement about society: that everyone has flaws, but is able to overcome them with support and a positive self-esteem. Walker also specifically portrays that without an outlet to communicate with, the world is a harsh place to live in alone. The book achieved its goal by revealing that the “color purple” should not get overlooked. The color represents beauty and individuality, which should not be hidden amongst a wide range of green grass or the enormous blue sky. Walker successfully conveys Celie as this color; in the beginning of the novel she was unnoticed, and by the end of the novel she has a voice.

In all, Alice Walker shows a beautiful transformation of a young woman in The Color Purple. She does so through the distinct style, first person point-of-view, and various uses of literary devices. Walker’s presentations of social issues in the novel are significant in that they are commonly seen in society today.
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