A Book Review of the Novel: The Color Purple by Alice Walker
The Color Purple by Alice Walker is a historical novel set in the rural parts of Georgia and published in the 1980s in California. It brings together a detailed group of black women who are joined by their love for each other, the abusive men, and the children who are so much loved and cared for by the women. novel set in the rural parts of Georgia and published in the 1980s in California. It brings together a detailed group of black women who are joined by their love for each other, the abusive men, and the children who are so much loved and cared for by the women. The novel discusses the struggle of black women who desire for esteem and respect. They want to achieve fair and equal treatment from the society. Domestic violence and oppression of women are among the main themes of the novel. The characters are emphatic in their search for fair treatment in the society of patriarchs.
The novel portrays a contrast of the behavior of the characters that are naïve and ignorant at the start of their lives. The characters are getting more mature as the novel nears the end where they get to know their rights and learn how to stand up against oppression. Through the love and friendship that is shared among them, they find a way of success for liberating themselves from the selfish men. This essay is focused on the cultural issues highlighted in the novel and develops possible strategies for addressing the issues.
The Color Purple is a collection of letters written by Celie to God and telling about her tribulations. In the beginning, the letters are focused on her common life and daily events of her life. Further, they change in context and get complex themes and insight. The letters written by Celie are private and look like journal entries with a confessional and neutral tone. The journal goes beyond cultural and gender backgrounds in a feminist view. Walker writes about African women who suffer and struggle for their survival in oppressive and hostile environments. There is special concern through exploring the insanities, loyalties, oppressions, and the triumph of black women.
The Common Cultural Issues Portrayed in the Novel
Domestic violence is among the main cultural issues addressed in this novel. This is because men are brought out to abuse women physically and sexually. For example, Celie and Nettie live with the strongest feeling of fear for the man they grew up knowing as a father. The man abuses Celie emotionally and sexually. He constantly tells her that she is ugly and has an ugly smile. This adversely impacts the child’s self-confidence, ripping off her self esteem and self respect. As a result, she is always anxious about her appearance. Celie is exposed to sexual harassment by the man she calls father, and has negative verbal experiences from which she is unable to protect herself. She grows up with the feelings of being worthless until when she gets married off at fourteen years to a man who continues the vicious cycle of abuse. She accepts to give her hand in marriage to Albert, a man she is not in love with. She became pregnant twice and bore two children with her father. However, the children were taken away from her at birth.
When Albert gets married, he continues with the same treatment that Celie was exposed to by her father. He beats and rapes her, causing her to isolate herself. Consequently, because of the sexual abuse she experienced as a child, she feels afraid of having sex. Besides, she also feels depressed and withdrawn. She does not have any affection for her husband because of the psychological impacts of the childhood abuse she underwent. Celie has to work on the farm and handle all the chores expected of a woman despite the suffering and pain that she is undergoing. Her husband forces her to accept Shug who is brought in as her co-wife. Due to the inferiority and kind of parenting that Celie received, she has got no choice but to accept the decision of her husband. She works on the farm and does all that she is ordered to do by Albert despite the torture. Celie is forced to accept the extra affair of her husband with other women like Shug who is brought in to live along with them. Most of the black parents are portrayed as bad to their children, thereby raising adults who have no confidence in facing life.
Another problem raised in the novel is racial discrimination. All families whose lives are discussed in the novel are African. The white man killed Celie’s father because he was a successful businessman. Most of the characters that Celie comes into contact with are blacks who have been exploited by the South American natives. The lack proper education and housing. The only basic facilities that are owned by blacks are diminished. The white man had good facilities but never shared. Black women like Nettie try to make their lives better through travelling out for missionary activities. However, their lives do not improve much and upon return, they are treated suspiciously by the white priests because of their racial inclination. Some like Nettie were forced to travel to Africa so that they can try through missionary work to enhance their living standards. The black Americans in The Color Purple do not take education seriously especially for women. Children are not promptly reminded on the merits of education. When Celie is married off, she is forced to stop her education.
Strategies to Address the Common Issues in The Color Purple
Characters like Celie have the ability of changing the situation by learning to stand up against evil and defending themselves. For example, Celie needs to be firm in the process of making decisions. Thus, she has to counsel or meet people who have had similar experiences and succeeded in life. Victims of sexual harassment should be firm and self-confident in order to avoid victimization. It is also easier and better to escape the suffering that comes with abuse. For instance, if Celie had run away earlier, she would have prevented pregnancies that were as a result of her father’s sexual abuses. The escape of abuse makes a person to be stronger because they feel that they have done something that saved them. Such people are likely to get better faster unlike those who stay to face their abusers. When Celie meets Shug, her life starts to change because of latter’s actions. Shug strengthens her confidence by telling her that she is a beautiful woman with a wonderful smile. She gives her compliments all the time until they become so close. Besides, because of the unity between the women, Celie gets back her confidence and is able to stand up and defend herself against her husband’s oppression. Unity is the most ideal strategy for fighting against some vices. This is because staying together with people who are positive minded significantly changes the lives of the depressed.
It is obvious that throughout the novel, Celie matures. She learns from Shug how to be strong and independent. The women stand united to defend themselves against their men who are abusive. They encourage each other to forget the oppressions that they have experienced before. They help one another to be the successful women that they are destined to become. The confidence and self esteem of Celie was incapacitated since childhood but Shug helps her to restore it. Shug was caught up in the other people’s image of her, restraining herself from doing things that she loved.
Hard work and education is the only strategy that can save the black Americans in The Color Purple from poverty. It is the only way of solving the problem of racism. When Celie realizes that her life had been a waste, she starts her own business so as to enhance her lifestyle. Celie can be successful because her father was once a successful businessman.
The Color Purple is an example of poor parenting that impacts the life that people lead as adults. The novel clearly points out that despite the abuse, an individual can be successful if he or she believes in himself or herself, has unity, and works against the evils of the world. Women should work harder than men in order to be successful. It is not easy for the women to attain equality and recognition because they are faced with numerous challenges. Shug and Celie search the house and find the letters that Albert had hidden from Celie. The letters had been written by Nettie informing her sister of her progress, she had found Celie’s children. Celie is happy that her children had the opportunity of growing up in a more responsible family than her own. The Color Purple has a successful conclusion because the naïve women have matured and are more aggressive and successful.
Walker, Alice (2011). The Color Purple. Open Road Media. Retrieved from: http://www.litnotes.co.uk/color.htm