Critical Essay on the Color Purple

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Walker’s Purple is Not Just a Color
Alice Walker’s epistolary novel The Color Purple demonstrates how the mistreatment of a woman cannot prevent her from fulfilling her destiny. The protagonist and narrator of the novel, Celie, is a young, uneducated black girl who is verbally and sexually abused by her supposed father, Alphonso. He fathers two children with her, kidnapping both and presumably killing one, if not both. Because of the unwarranted trauma, she struggles for the rest of her life to recover from his abuse and establish her own power. Celie has a much smarter and prettier younger sister Nettie, whom she loves, and of whom she is very protective. Celie saves Nettie from marriage to a suitor referred to only as Mr. when their father forces her to marry him instead. Celie’s stepson Harpo, weds a strong-minded woman, Sofia, who is the complete opposite of Celie. Sofia’s refusal to be abused by anyone, - man or woman - sparks a curiosity that makes Celie take a closer look at herself. The catalyst of the story is Mr.’s lover, Shug Avery. Although Celie realizes Shug is her husband’s lover, she does not resent Shug; in fact, Shug becomes Celie’s best friend, lover and even mentor. These influential women, each trying to find their own happiness, fighting their own personal demons, tremendously impact Celie’s life. The women help to educate Celie, whose natural intelligence and talents have been stunted by years of constant humiliation and abuse by her father and husband. It is through each character’s definition of life and struggle within The Color Purple that Alice Walker is able to tell the story of victorious transformation. Walker’s narrative symbolically illustrates a woman’s psychological journey rising from the mentality of an abused victim of poverty to become a strong, independent and confident woman who establishes her own place within her society. The sexual abuse Celie endures at a very early age leaves her powerless with nowhere...
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