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Struggle and Growth in Alice Walker’s Color Purple

Struggle and Growth in Alice Walker’s The Color Purple

The Color Purple depicts the struggle and growth of Celie, an uneducated slave of the South who became a victim of racism, sexual roles, men, and social injustices, in numerous letters that she writes as a diary. Walker uses Celie’s uneducated grammar to help the reader perceive the pain that she thinks and feels in order to become a mature, twentieth-century woman.

As Celie writes to God for guidance and strength asking that she may carry on, her letters subtly shift to be intended for her intensely loved sister, Nettie, whom separated from Celie at an early age. Celie becomes a victim of brutal violence as she refuses to fight back to the injustices that black men, such as her husband and father, inflict upon her, including rape, verbal abuse and physical abuse. When Shug Avery, a blues singer who had an affair with Celie’s husband, enters the novel, Celie’s outlook on life gradually alters. Shug’s manipulative, potent, and independent character aids Celie in growing strong and eventually learning to love others as well as herself as they share an intimate, sexual relationship together. Shug’s belief in freedom of black women urges Celie to take complete domination of her own life. After years of keeping the memories of Nettie alive, Celie’s courageous spirit and love of Nettie and Shug lead Celie to forgiveness and reconciliation for all the pain inflicted upon her. When Nettie returns home with Celie’s children after experiencing a whole new life in Africa, Celie finally is able to encounter true happiness through mental and emotional rebirth.

Although Nettie’s character remains detached for years, she serves as Celie’s confidante th…

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…lthough Celie didn’t receive Nettie’s letters till months, sometimes years, after they were written, Celie continued to confide in Nettie with her deepest emotions.

Without Nettie’s character existing in the novel, Celie would eventually give up her gaining perseverance and cling onto the abuse and injustices she grew up in. Nettie served as Celie’s emotinal and spiritual support while allowing the reader to experience knowledge of her African culture. Nettie explains to Celie the vast differences between her life in Africa, with blacks as the majority, and life in America, with blacks as the minority. She serves not only as a confidante but also as an educator for Celie’s lost mind. Nettie’s character intensifies Celie’s need to love and be loved in The Color Purple.

Works Cited:

Walker, Alice. The Color Purple.New York: Pocket Books. 1982

Alice Walker’s Color Purple – Historical and Political Insight

The Color Purple : Historical and Political Insight

Alice Walker’s writings were greatly influenced by the political and societal happenings around her during the 1960s and 1970s. She not only wrote about events that were taking place, she participated in them as well. Her devoted time and energy into society is very evident in her works. The Color Purple, one of Walker’s most prized novels, sends out a social message that concerns women’s struggle for freedom in a society where they are viewed as inferior to men. The events that happened during and previous to her writing of The Color Purple had a tremendous impact on the standpoint of the novel.

The Civil Rights Movement was the largest influence on Walker’s writings. In a decision handed down by the Supreme Court in 1954, the beginning of civil rights occurred. In the decision of Brown vs. The Board of Education, the court ruled that separate educational facilities were inherently unequal because they gave AfricanAmerican children a sense of inferiority and retarded their educational and mental development. That case began the civil rights uprising in the United States.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbid businesses connected with interstate commerce to discriminate when choosing its employees. If these businesses did not conform to the act, they would lose funds that were granted to them from the government. Another act that was passed to secure the equality of blacks was the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This act, which was readopted and modified in 1970, 1975, and 1982, contained a plan to eliminate devices for voting discrimination and gave the Department of Justice more power in enforcing equal rights. In another attempt for equal rights, the Equal Employment …

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…ally signed in 1973 and the Americans returned home following the signage. However, all was not well in the US. Overall, the war was very unpopular to the public and it led to radicalism and polarization of the country’s youth. Many universities had demonstrations and a resistance against institutions was prevalent on college campuses. By 1974, the country’s economy was in recession, a direct response to the Vietnam War.

The Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War were the two primary influences on the life and writings of Alice Walker. Walker is still alive today and continues to write about society issues that have affected her life.

“Civil Rights and Liberties-Civil Rights Movement.” Encyclopedia Americana. 1996 ed.

Jackson, Melinda L. “Alice Walker-Womanist Writer.” Online. Internet. 14 April 1998. Available

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