The Strength Of Women In Alice Walker’s The Color Purple
Celie, the protagonist of Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, is raised by her stepfather in an unjust environment which she cannot control and makes no attempt to fight back. Obedience and inferiority had been instilled in her, so her unjust circumstances seemed usual for her. When she is married off at 14, her husband treats her in the same manner, constantly abusing her and asserting his power to make Celie feel inferior. As far as Celie understands, this is how a normal woman’s life should be, until she meets two women, Sofia and Avery Shug, whose resistant personalities inspire Celie to fight for a just life. Celie’s search for justice is eventually very successful, and her success conveys one of the novel’s main points which is that women, with the help and support of other women, can endure unimaginable struggles and not only help each other survive, but prosper as well. When Celie was an adolescent living with her stepfather, she faces incomprehensible hardships due to the unfortunate circumstances forced upon her, and as a result she didn’t have a great understanding of justice. She was often criticized and abused, to the point where this was normal to her. Celie had been conditioned to believe that she was inferior, ugly, and unworthy, and that her place in life was one of servitude.
The novel places heavy emphasis on the fact that the males are extremely sexist. Most of them mentally and physically abuse their wives and force them to clean, care for many children, and cook for the whole family. Celie knew that her life was unjust to some degree, especially because her stepfather abused her, raped her, and took away her children. Despite all of this abuse and degradation, Celie couldn’t find it in herself to rebel. She was unable to voice resistance to those who took advantage of her and she felt that the only way to overcome this violence and abuse was to remain silent and invisible. Celie maintains this view until she meets Sofia and Shug. Sofia is strong-willed and refuses to be abused by Harpo, Albert’s son, so when Harpo tries to beat her she does the same to him. This introduces Celie to an entirely different way of living for women, and she quickly becomes envious of Sophia’s independence. Shug, too, expands Celie’s horizons. Celie and Shug quickly become very close friends and develop a sexual relationship. After Celie begins to experience a spiritual, emotional, and sexual awakening as a result of this strengthening bond and being introduced to the liberation and independence that Sophia and Shug are living through, Celie’s understanding of justice expands greatly. Considering this new knowledge and perspective, she fully realizes the unjustness of her situation. Celie, therefore, has discovered the act of standing up for herself as a person and confronts Albert at dinner one night, announcing that she is moving to Memphis with Shug. Celie’s search for justice is very successful once she grows closer to Shug and moves with her to Memphis. Taking that first step towards autonomy by moving away from Albert brings Celie closer to a life of justice. Shug begins to become a mentor to Celie and, throughout their friendship, helps her evolve into an independent and assertive woman just like herself and Sofia.
One of the most impactful lessons Shug taught Celie was how to make pants. With this knowledge, Celie was able to support herself financially and grew even more independent. The pants are a symbol of Celie’s newfound freedom and relief from the patriarchal society that was always trying to control her. Not too long after moving to Memphis, Celie is informed that her stepfather has died and herself and Nettie have inherited his house and store. Celie moved in and started selling pants there, and not long after Nettie returned home from her missionary trip and they had a family reunion to celebrate. Seeing as Celie was able to become personally and financially dependent on herself, create her own business, and reunite with her sister, Celie’s search for justice was highly successful. Celie’s success conveys one of the novel’s main points which is that women, with the help and support of other women, can endure unimaginable struggles and help each other survive and prosper. In conclusion, even though Celie’s adolescence and early adulthood was marked by abuse, she was able to move towards independence thanks to Sophia and Shug showing her that women do not have to be obedient to men. Celie’s search for justice is ultimately successful as she created her own business and reunited with her sister.
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