The Color Purple: Consolation in Female Bonding
Celie’s road to trusting and loving herself
This essay is about the love affair in The Color Purple, a novel by Alice Walker in which, thoughts on racism, incest, rape, love and family affairs are provoked. The reader learns about these subjects through the letters that Celie, an uneducated black woman, writes to God and through the letters that her sister Nettie and Celie write to each other. I would like to discuss how Walker raises the issue of love between females, which involves trust and understanding, two aspects that the men in the novel don’t possess. The reader witnesses how the women are being oppressed and abused in this men’s world, Celie and Shug find comfort and security in each other and then become less afraid to stand up for themselves. I will touch on the comparisons of the awareness hierarchy in Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison and The Color Purple. Furthermore, Walker guides us through the rise of this sisterhood and female love affair, which helps them find the otherness in God, the colour purple. This novel tells us of sexual racism, incest, oppression and abuse which leads to what walker refers to as womanist, which is to feminism what the colour purple is to lavender (Abbandato 1113). The text implies that Celie and Shug find their love for each other through traumatic events where African-American females are lowest in rank, causing sexual racism, rape and abuse by the dominating male.
The Beginning of Celie and Shug
“Nature said, you two folks, hook up, cause you a good example of how it sposed to go.”(105) Celie has been abused by men all her life and still she does what they tell her to out of fear until she meets Shug, who stands up for Celie and shows her many beautiful things life carries with her. ‘Pa’ has abused Celie and she has become pregnant, twice. Incest and abuse seems to be the life she knows and therefore she is afraid of all men including God because she fears getting beaten and doing something wrong. She is not afraid to write to God because she thinks that He, “as a white male listener, is ill-equipped to hear what she has to say” (Tucker 82), and because her stepfather has made her afraid to tell anybody else, as is shown in the first line of the novel: “You better not tell nobody but God. It’d kill your mammy.” (3) She has always feared men, and when she sees Shug Avery for the first time she is amazed to see that a female has power over Mr. ____. At first Shug treats Celie as a servant because Shug is supposed to be with Mr. ____ and not Celie. She finally accepts this is reality and finds out that the man she used to know as Albert is not the same anymore. Celie’s traumatic sexual events and incest may have caused Celie to dive into this female love affair with Shug. Shug hears Celie’s stories about the raping, and how Celie lets Albert take advantage of her because abuse is the life she has always lead, the life she is used to. Shug helps Celie see the beautiful things that God has given them.
Walker uses the letters Celie writes as a political statement, reminding the reader that Celie can only write her feelings about herself and objective information in writing. She continues to do this in the novel even though she can tell her feelings to Shug. She still feels the need to write to God or Nettie (Christian 424). When talking to Shug, Celie finds “lesbian continuum” (Abbandato: 1108): the concept of love, friendship and sisterly solidarity, in a world where heterosexuality is compulsory and women are supposed to be no more than objects to men, they are “the second sex” (Chaber 213), women with no rights or power.
A fight against society
Walker shows the reader how black woman are trying to rise above the conditions of their society. Sofia and Shug are the two characters that fight against masculine domination. In Song of Solomon, Morrison focuses on the...