Men who are violent towards women have generally been ostracized by society. The feminist movement was instigated by women who were determined to stand up and challenge the adverse ways that men treated women. By defying the domestic social norms of their families, women effectively blurred the line between established male and female gender roles, forever changing the way men perceived and treated women. Alice Walker’s novel, The Color Purple, explores the idea that domestic violence is a trait that is passed on from generation to generation and can be unlearned.
Alphonso is the stepfather of the main character Celie. He marries Celie’s mother after her father dies. He rapes Celie when she is fourteen years old because Celie’s mother is ill and will not sleep with him. He makes it clear that she must keep silent about the incident. “You better not never tell nobody but God. It’d kill your mammy.” (1)
Albert is Celie’s husband. He does not marry her out of love. He just wants a mother to look after his children and a wife to look after the house. Following in the footsteps of his father, Albert stubbornly sticks to old-fashioned views of women and of male authority without taking the time to understand how this is affecting his family. He is unhappy with the life he leads because he did not get the opportunity to marry the woman he loves, Shug Avery. He takes out his anger on Celie simply due to the fact that Celie is not Shug. Albert’s father reprimands him for his compassionate treatment of Shug Avery. This confrontation unintentionally sparks the chain of events that bring Celie and Albert closer together by the end of the novel. Albert renews his life by listening to people and building relationships with those that he has never taken the time to get to know.
Harpo is Albert’s oldest son. Celie finds him crying one evening because his wife Sofia does not do what he tells her to do. He relies on...