The Color Purple Themes and Analysis

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Were it not for Celie’s letters, her personal growth would not be so remarkable. On the most sweeping scale, the novel’s structure begins with Celie writing letters to God out of fear while unknowingly beginning the process of self-discovery. Then Nettie’s letters function to aide in Celie’s journey and Celie stops writing to God and writes to the more tangible Nettie. Celie’s final letter addresses everything under the sun. Walker uses this form to show how passionately the world is connected on all levels. Harpo’s insecurity about his masculinity leads to marital problems and his attempts to beat Sofia. Likewise, Shug’s confident sexuality and resistance to male domination cause her to be labeled a tramp.

That is why she decides to leave him and start a new life with Shug in Memphis. Furthermore, Celie learns that Alfonso is not her biological father and that her younger sister lives with the Reverend Samuel and his family in Africa. The girl also finds out that now she owns a house where Alfonso lived till his death. Many characters in the novel break the boundaries of traditional male or female gender roles.

Womanist is to feminist as purple is to lavender

Harpo’s and Sofia’s shock serves to reflect the reader’s reaction, but Walker isn’t so much advocating smoking marijuana so much as she is supporting the way it enables the three to feel the presence of “everything” . The Color Purple by Alice Walker is an epistolary novel about African-American women in the southern United States in the 1930s. It addresses some crucial issues, such as segregation and sexism. This work was adapted into a film by Steven Spielberg in 1985 (Bay et al., 2015, p.169). More than that, The Color Purple won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award for Fiction in 1983. Though Walker clearly wishes to emphasize the power of narrative and speech to assert selfhood and resist oppression, the novel acknowledges that such resistance can be risky. Sofia’s forceful outburst in response to Miss Millie’s invitation to be her maid costs her twelve years of her life.

What is the thesis on The Color Purple?

The very core of The Color Purple is the idea to give a voice to the voiceless, and the thesis of the novel seems to be that healing comes from being heard: Celie can be saved because her voice is recorded in letters, and of the antagonistic characters in the novel, it is those that are willing to listen who are also …

She describes a night that they spent together when she says, “Me and Shug sound asleep. Celie begins to allow her feelings with Shug to become reality and shows that she does not have the shy personality that everyone thinks she does. This paper was written and submitted to our database by a student to assist your with your own studies. You are free to use it to write your own assignment, however you must reference it properly.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Shug taught Celie that she was a rightful member of the human society and brought her back to the active life. At the same time, the example of Sophie who fought back when her husband attempted to best her, inspired Celie to rebel against her husband and disclose the fact that he had hidden numerous letters her sister sent to her. Thus, Celie’s learning can be also viewed as the process of modeling and following the behavioral patterns observed.

What is feminism in The Color Purple?

The concept of black feminism is evident in Walker's novel through the dilemma of the black women characters. In The Color Purple, Walker shows the adverse impacts that oppression of black women has on their development. Black women suffer from discrimination and oppression from black men and the white men and women.

The structure of ‘The Color Purple’ as an epistolary novel makes the tone very confessional, allowing Celie to express her feelings to the people she trusts through the privacy of a letter. The ambiguity of Celie’s sexuality, provoked by the seemingly romantic relationship between herself and Shug Avery, emphasises her toxic preconceptions of men and the level of hatred she feels for them.

“The Color Purple” by Alice Walker: Critical Analysis

Here, knowledge does not necessarily refer to the scholarly knowledge as such. All this aspects are learnt by people, and The Color Purple by Alice Walker is one of the best literary examples of this learning . Accordingly, this paper will focus on the learning of Celie, the protagonist of the story, and analyze it through the learning theories by Skinner and Bandura.

On top of this, shortly before Celie, Shug and Harpo’s new woman, Squeak, leave to go to Tennessee, Celie finally releases her built up rage, cursing Mr. ____ for his many years of abuse. “I curse you, I say.” “I say, Until you do right by me, everything you touch will crumble.” These surprising bursts of outrage show a growing sense of bravery in Celie’s previously passive personality. While in Tennessee, Shug becomes the encouragement Celie needs to establish her own business of designing and sewing pants, thus providing her with her own source of income. Now much more independent financially, spiritually and emotionally, Celie finds herself able to fend for herself in situations she previously couldn’t.

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Celie replies that those qualities are rather ‘womanly’ qualities especially since he and his son do not have those qualities and the people that are known to have those qualities are Shug and Sofia who are women. Celie cared for Shug Avery when she was sick and her care was instrumental in nursing her back to life. It was Shug who helped Celie control her instinct to murder Albert and helped her direct her energy to something productive. It was also Shug that brought Nettie’s hidden letters to Celie and the loving words in Nettie’s letters contributed to Celie’s healing as an individual. The people of Olinka do not permit females to go to school or act independently, there must be a man at every point in her life to “look after” her.

  • Her stepfather molested her and harshly got rid of the resultant children, scolding her to “not never tell nobody but God,” .
  • A feminist novel which is also against racial prejudices must interesting to read.
  • At the time, I wasn’t able to appreciate the spirituality aspect of the book; I was looking at it more through the lens of women’s roles in the early 1900s.
  • In Shug and Sofia, Celie finds sympathetic ears and learns lessons that enable her to find her voice.
  • More significant, however, is Celie’s relationship with Shug Avery, a glamorous and independent singer who is also Albert’s sometime mistress.

Glynis, both the book and movie succeed in exploring some really heavy thematic issues, but in entirely different ways. The movie doesn’t go nearly as deep into the journeys of discovering self-identity that occur with Harpo as well as with Mister. The movie makes issues of abuse more simplistic, whereas Walker’s book allows a glimpse at the bigger picture of how such cycles take place. Jagoda, I have so many papers like this written for all of the literature classes I’ve taken. I hope to post these more lengthy criticisms at least a few times a year. Debra, I’m glad you feel I made an adequate distinction between religion and spirituality.

Essays for The Color Purple

Unlike so many other films dealing with blacks in the South, racism is barely touched upon . Whites are largely absent from the picture — save for the local mayor and his wife, pompous rather than evil. Spielberg simply treats the community as a microcosm for life, even an extended family. So we get good blacks and bad blacks — a refreshing realism supplied by the book — and in that respect The Color Purple isn’t about race issues at all.

the color purple critical essay

She erupts, cursing her husband, and she leaves him to go to Memphis and find happiness with a woman who loves her. There are many fine women in this novel, and each of them has a distinctive, fighting sense of courage. The fiery-tempered women, of course, are easily recognized, but it is the quiet, growing strength of Celie that finally impresses us most.

Style, Tone, and Figurative Language

She, then, informs him about her relationship with the children as their aunt. It soon happens that Nettie starts becoming religious, impacting Celie whom Shug advises about the existence of God.

Once there, Celie comes into her own and creates a successful business selling tailored pants. Her happiness, however, is tempered somewhat by Shug’s affairs, though Celie continues to love her. Following Alphonso’s death, Celie inherits his house, where she eventually settles. During this time she develops a friendship with Albert, who is apologetic about his earlier treatment of her.

A Critical Analysis of The Color Purple

Celie is being a true Christian by chalking up a bad situation to the power and inaccessible love of God. In the end, Celie reunites with her sister, who returns from Africa with her husband Samuel and Celie’s children and maintains a close relationship with Shug. Besides, she keeps in touch with Mr. Albert as he changed a lot. Now Nettie and Celie are inseparable and happy so much that Celie writes that she has never felt so young before, though she is an old woman. Walker portrays female friendships as a means for women to summon the courage to tell stories. In turn, these stories allow women to resist oppression and dominance.

The topic of emotional/physical abuse, especially that endured by black American women of earlier generations is not openly spoken about or documented in history books. By bringing focus to this sensitive, yet saddening, experience of black women, the novel attracted criticism, censorship and controversy. A careful analysis of the novel the color purple critical essay will reveal several themes, symbols and motifs woven-in by the author. She began life as a virtual slave, the victim of men, of traditional sexual roles, of racism, and of innumerable social injustices. When the novel is finished, we will have seen Celie grow into a whole human being — as well as into a mature, twentieth-century woman.

I am in the editing stage of my memoir, i.e. critiques and beta readers, and hope to have it ready for an editor to look at in the next couple of months. I saw this movie and read the book, in that order, many years ago. An unusual order to experience the story however both were amazing and the portrayal of the characters have stuck with me for a long time. The Color Purple is one of those perfect pieces of literature that cannot be dismissed. Lastly, the growth of Celie throughout the novel is shown through all of the women that help her along the journey in becoming herself. Although Celie tries to discover herself, “Shug Avery and Sophia Butler provide the major alternative influences that allow Celie to grow and develop” .

the color purple critical essay

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