, April 01, 2014
Alice Walker’s novel The Color Purple is an intense novel regarding various issues that are still prevalent in today’s world. These include gender roles, abuse, and self discovery and they are expressed through the main character Celie’s story. The entire novel is told through letters that Celie is writing to either God or her younger sister Nettie. When the novels begins, Celie is a fourteen year old girl who has not discovered independence. She is abused and raped by her step-father, and later sent off to marry a man named Albert ____. Her life never changes, until she meets a blues singer named Shug Avery. Shug assists Celie in becoming a strong and independent woman. Throughout the novel, readers experience Celie’s development with her and understand her struggle to become the person she wants to be. Alice Walkers novel The Color Purple is an emotional and eye opening novel that helps readers understand how love and affection can change a person. This book is an excellent read because of the dramatic change the main character Celie undergoes. This change forces readers to realize how love can cure even a person as damaged as she is.
The background info behind this novel is extremely important when attempting to discern the plot. The story takes place in the rural south of Georgia around the 1920’s-30’s. Readers will have a better understanding of the different actions and conversations within the novel if they know this information. During these times, it was normal for women to be abused by their spouses or family. Celie’s abuse was common for many women of this time period. Also, the diction is very normal for a southern black woman of this time period. Celie was uneducated, and this can be seen through her grammar within her letters. Knowing this background information helps readers go into the novel with an open mind and further appreciate the novel’s value.
The novel opens when Celie is fourteen years old. She is writing letters to God regarding her life. Her mother has recently died, and she is constantly abused and raped by her step-father, whom she calls Pa. Celie will do anything to protect others over herself, especially her younger sister Nettie. At one point in the novel, she tells us, “I ast him to take me instead of Nettie while our mammy sick. But he just ask me what I’m talking bout. I tell him I can fix myself up for him” (8). Celie does not want her sister endure what she has to, so she continues to offer herself even if she does not want to. Celie has two children because of Pa, however he sold both of them without her consent. Once Celie is a couple years older, Pa sends her away to marry Mr. ______. With him she is still unloved and abused. Celie becomes Mr. _____’s slave. She cooks, cleans, works in the fields, and takes care of his children, especially his son Harpo. One day, Celie’s idol Shug Avery, a blues singer, comes to Mr. _____’s house because she is sick. Shug was once in a relationship with Mr._____, so he has allowed her to stay at his home. Celie nurses Shug Avery back to health, and eventually they become best friends. Shug changes Celie’s life. She teaches Celie to have her own opinions, and eventually Celie becomes strong and independent. After a while, Celie decides to write her letters to her sister Nettie rather than God. Celie believes her sister has died because she has not written, however she and Shug discover that Albert has been hiding Nettie’s letters from them. Once they steal the letters from Mr. _____, they discover that Nettie has gone to Africa, and is with Celie’s two children. Reading these letters gives Celie even more hope, and her individualism continues to grow. Celie then decides to move to Memphis with Shug. In the end of the novel, Celie discovers the love and happiness that she ahs been longing for throughout her whole life. She returns to Albert’s house, and their relationship is better than it ever was before. He treats her with respect and no longer looks at her like a slave. She is now self sufficient and confident. She begins making pants for money and it is something that she enjoys, but most importantly it’s something that she does for HERSELF. In the very end, Nettie comes home with Celie’s two children, Adam and Olivia, and Celie claims “I think this the youngest us ever felt” (295).
Throughout the entire novel, Walker teaches readers that even the most damaged people can be saved through love. She explains this message through her use of point of view. Through Celie’s letters, readers gain a more honest view of each character and how they shape her life. If the story was not in Celie’s point of view, readers would not understand her thoughts because she is not an outspoken person. Her narration helps with the idea of love being the cure for loneliness because readers get to experience this love with her. They understand that Mr. _____ and Pa damaged Celie because they did not love her. She explains the readers how miserable she isbut this would only be known from her point of view. Also, through her descriptions of Shug, they learn about the love the two characters share, and how that saves Celie. She used to feel lost and alone, however once she discovered love, she felt more alive than she had in years.
Alice Walker’s novel The Color Purple is a strong novel that relates to issues such as gender roles, abuse, and self-discovery that are still very relevant to today. Celie was once lost, however through the love of Shug Avery, she gained strength, independence, and most importantly hope. The unique characteristics of this novel make the plot realistic, which then makes the story more enjoyable. I would strongly recommend this novel to anyone that has an open mind on the various issues discussed throughout the novel. The Color Purple is an eye-opening book that teaches readers to not only love others, but to love themselves as well.