The Color People The Color People Rape, incest, sex , forced labor, and a little reefer on the side. These are all of the components of a Novel by Alice Walker. All of these views are illustrated proficiently in Alice Walkers third novel, The Color Purple. Each one of these aspects had a lasting impression upon the ideals and notions of the time. Walker’s writing’s helped to break the racial barrier that existed in some people’s minds.
One way that the barrier was destroyed was through Walker’s depiction of an imperfect black person. If a white person wrote about a less than perfect black person than it was considered racist. Now that a black person is writing about other blacks that are foretaking in acts that are, in their eye’s, immoral and corrupt, the subject is brought into a new light. These actions are discussed out in the open, and the idea that all people have their own “flaws”, is thought to be more fisable. Walker combines all of these issues in her story in a deceptive way. They all are linked together by way of a semi-believable story line with one major overlaying theme. Prescott sums it up nicely, “Love redeems, meanness kills”(p74).
This is illustrated in many ways in Walker’s novel. One perfect example of this is Mr. . Mr. , as he is called throughout the novel, was a wife beater, who, having been denied Celie’s sister, marries Celie to look after his children.
He beats her and rapes her and is just plain nasty to her. Finally, one day, after Celie discovers another mean thing that Mr. did to her, she leaves with her girlfriend to start a new life. Mr. is left all alone.
He starts to fall apart. He becomes afraid of the dark, and just gives up on life. That was his meanness that started to destroy his life. Now, just as Mr. is nearing death, his son Harpo, starts to take care of him. Mr.
starts to love him again. Now Mr. ‘s life takes a towards revival. He becomes a new man. Once he starts to love his life starts to look up again.
His and his son’s love redeemed him. “The more I wonder, he say, the more I love. And people start to love you back, I bet, I say. They do, he say, surprise. Harpo seem to love me.” (Walker, pg. 290) Walker’s novel is very unique in regards to style.
Her use of black idiom is very effective and adds the extra fragment of actuality and authenticity to the story line. “Walker’s use of language, especially Black idiom, is masterful and adds poignancy and depth to the narrative.” (Another characteristic of Walker is the inclusion of highly controversial and unique circumstances in her novel. For example, many authors of the time, black or white, would address the idea of either inter-racial or same-sex relations. Walker was an active feminist and her voice and opinions show through in many of her novels. The Color Purple includes many dynamic characters throughout.
Mr. is a good example of one such character. In the beginning of the novel he is a mean, strange old man who only marries Celie because he needs somebody to look after his kids. Mr. is really in love with her sister, but their father decides that her sister Nettie is too young for marriage so he settles for Celie.
This shows how unfeeling Mr. is in the first portion of the novel. He beats his wife and overworks her and rapes her and abuses her. He is an all around bad guy. “First he put this thing up gainst my hip and sort of wiggle it around.
Then he grab hold my titties. Then he push his thing inside my pussy. When that hurt, I cry. He start to choke me, saying you better shut up and git used to it.” (Walker, pg. 1,2) However, Mr.
comes upon a big change in his life when Celie finally leaves him. Mr. is left all by himself and forced to survive and maintain himself on his own. Here is where he runs into some problems. Here is where the big change takes place.
Mr. changes his evil ways and begins to show some compassion and love. The end of the novel depicts a markedly different Mr. then the beginning of the novel portrays. In the end of the novel Mr.
and Celie actually have a civilized conversation and begin to see face to face. They become friends and often visit each other’s homes and chat on the porch while sewing. “Mr. look at me real thoughtful. He not such a bad looking man you know, when you come right down to it.
And now it do begin to look like he got a lot of feeling hind his face.” (Walker, pg. 280) Mr. is not the only character that changes during the course of this novel, Celie also takes a drastic turn in her realm of thinking. Celie starts out in the beginning of the novel as the “slave” to her father. First allowing herself to be raped and bearing his children and taking his abuse.
Then on to the abuse that her “husband”, Mr. shows towards her. Celie takes all of this treatment in stride, this is the only life that she has known. She thinks that since she is only a woman this is the way that she is supposed to be treated. Then, all of the sudden a certain event causes her to dramatically change her course of thinking. This change is caused by the influence of a character that is new to the book.
This character gives Celie the love and the respect that she always lacked. Celie was given the sense of being, a sense that she was a real person. A person with feelings, with a heart and a soul. A person that could love and be loved. This person gave her all of these feelings as well as a fresh new start and a new outlook on life.
“For Walker, redemptive love requires female bonding.” (Prescott) This person became her lover. This person was Shug Avery. Shug Avery was an old lover of Celie’s husband, Mr. . She had been brought back to Mr.
‘s house because she was sick and Celie was to look after her. Shug was also a different person in the introduction of her character. She was a snobbish, high class brat. The Stereotypical rich, spoiled woman. At first she treated Celie and Mr.
as if they were nothing but her hired help. Then she began to take a liking to Celie. At first they talked and sewed together. Then there relationship moved to the next level. Shug is the one who gave Celie her new outlook on life.
She began to treat Celie as a real person should be treated. She offered her love and warmth and gave her a reason to be. She single handedly turned Celie’s life around for the better. Shug knew of all of the opportunities that existed out in the world, she had seen a lot of it because she was a singer that toured around a lot. She told Celie of these prospects and began to start Celie thinking of leaving Mr.
in search of a better life. The final straw that led to convincing Celie to leave was the horrifying act that Mr. had been withholding letters to Celie from her sister Nettie. Nettie was the luckier of the two sisters. She had met the people that had adopted Celie’s children, befriended them and traveled to Africa with them. Once there she lived among the Olinka tribe.
All the time that she was in Africa she wrote letters to Celie. She never got any reply but she never gave up hope. Celie really admired Nettie, and she was a powerful influence upon her life even though she wasn’t present. “How I’m gon keep from killing him, I say. Don’t kill, she say.
Nettie becoming home before long. Don’t make her have to look at you like us look at Sofia.” (Walker, pg.150) Nettie always had the insight that Celie lacked. She knew right away that Mr. was abusing her. She even wrote to Celie and told her “You’ve got to fight and get away from Albert. He ain’t no good.” (Walker, pg.
131) The two sisters longed for each other the entire time that they were separated. When they finally were reunited they were so happy that neither of them could say a word. They just stood there and hugged and hugged and emersed themselves in the love that they felt for each other. This is how the novel ends. It ends on a happy note. All of the abuse and all of the bad, unforgivable incidents, are forgiven.
Everyone is happy and together. The theme of “Love redeems” is fulfilled. Everybody is redeemed from there love of another person. The story line is very well wrapped up and there is a fulfilling finish to an entertaining novel. Everyone enjoys a story where there is an ending to the likes of ; they all lived happily ever after, this is that story.
Now wouldn’t you just like to read it for yourself? Works Cited Abbandonato, Linda. A View from ‘Elsewhere:’ Subversive Sexuality and the Rewriting of the Heroine’s Story in The Color Purple. PMLA, Oct. 1991 v106 n5 p1106 (10). Bartelme, Elizabeth. Victory over Bitterness. Contemporary Literary Criticism.
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