The Color Purple

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“You better not never tell nobody but God. It’d kill your mammy,” Celie is told by her Pa. So that’s what she does in The Color Purple, she writes to God, in letters. She does this, not only because of the command, but also because she is unsure of how to deal with being the subject of rape and abuse. She doesn’t clearly know how to express herself, and her letters to God is the only thing that would listen to her anyway. As Celie grows older, she gains outside listeners that help her actualize God and herself. And by this self-discovery of existence, she becomes very similar to an existentialist; despite obvious outside differences, where existentialists beforehand usually would be male, white, and European, Celie is female, black, and American, just like Alice Walker, the author of the novel.

Each beginning letter is a very private account of Celie’s personal thoughts, at age fourteen we hear her asking God for guidance because she doesn’t understand what’s happening to her, already pregnant with a second child due to being raped by her Pa. In these letters Celie narrates her life as though she wasn’t really emotionally involved. We get all the facts but it’s hard to put together her character because she doesn’t know how to personally interpret what she feels. She even confuses God’s power to that of her fathers. She seems quite convinced that God killed her baby, and she never makes the distinction that it was her father who got rid of it. Just as she never makes a connection to anyone in her youth, we even feel quite distant from God, whom she relies heavily on as her sole listener.

Once Celie is married off she begins her growth of becoming more than just someone to be abused, and to be walked all over. Celie had the bleakest of circumstances when she was growing up, yet she still had some choices and some freedoms, only she didn’t realize this. This realization came slowly from all the women that she meets. First is when she sees a woman with money,...
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