The Colour Purple

Topics: African American, The Color Purple, Gender Pages: 2 (544 words) Published: March 8, 2014
“The test of a foreign novel’s worth is the extent to which it challenges the reader.” Is your chosen text “worthy” in this regard and how has the composer challenged you? Imagine this: you are only fourteen and raped by the man you call ‘father’. You have no one to turn to, fearing for your mother’s life, and even your own. Well, this is Celie’s harsh reality in Alice Walker’s novel The Colour Purple, a story about one African-American girl’s struggle to overcome racism, sexism and repression in pre-civil rights Southern America. Walker challenges and extends the understanding of readers through exploring confronting issues like female abuse and racism. Walker addresses the issue of sexism and racism and portrays the young, black female as the most vulnerable person in a patriarchal and racist society where ‘Men s'pose to wear the pants’ as Albert asserts. Women like Celie and Sofia have to endure the effects of racism and internalised sexism; cyclical chains which teach women that they deserve the physical, mental, emotional and sexual harm inflicted by male dominance. Albert says ‘Wives is like children...Nothing can do that better than a good sound beating.’ The use of the simile shows the downtrodden nature of women in African-American culture as they are compared to younger children which require physical violence to be disciplined. In today’s society, readers are opened to a new perspective on the challenges faced by African-American women as through Celie’s story, they realise that women in the Deep South faced discrimination racially and sexually. Walker takes the readers out of their comfort zone to a setting where women are unquestionably beaten and oppressed. The Colour Purple also explores the power of writing and voice to create self-understanding. This issue was contextually important as at that time African Americans were denied proper education and silenced by white oppressors. In a similar way, Celie is forced into silence by Alfonso, but by...
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