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Thecolor purple entails an epistolary novel done in 1982 by Alice Walkerwho is an American author. The novel won immense prizes including the1983 Pulitzer award for fiction. Due to the popularity or rathersuccess of the novel, it was adapted into a musical as well as filmutilizing the same name. The setting of the story is in the ruralareas of Georgia with the main focus being women’s life during the1930s. It tends to bring out several aspects off women during thisperiod. Additionally, the book elicits various assumptions andappears as one of the most targeted book owing to the contententailed in it.

Aboutthe Author

AliceWalker is an America short story writer, activist, poet and novelist.Born in 1944 in the state of Georgia, she is renowned for her workethics. Among her works include the Meridian, the Third life ofGrange Copeland among others establishing herself as one of the best.She began writing privately at a tender age of eight while listeningto her grandfather’s oral traditional stories. Being the youngestin a family of eight children, she had to keep a lot in her mind andprobably express it in writing. Her first poetry book was done whilestill in senior school. Her involvement in civil rights agendasenlightened her to the challenges faced by women within the state andprobably the entire country. It is probably the reason she came upwith “the color purple” to outline the various challenges.

Thispaper will provide a critical analysis of the novel “the colorpurple” in various perspectives. All the facets involved in writingthe book will be analyzed especially how it came about. The stylisticapproaches utilized within the paper will also be discussedaccordingly. Themes involved, motifs, language, power and genderentailed within the novel will also be discussed. However, before theassessments of the various aspects, it is vital to give a summary ofthe work.


Thispaper utilizes both the historical and feminist critical approaches.In the historical perspective, the novel is based on the realhappenings within rural Georgia during the 1930s. As per the eventsin this period, women were suppressed in various aspects. Asexemplified by the author, being the youngest child as well as agirl, she faced challenges expressing herself. It took a while forpeople to realize her talents in writing. As portrayed by variousstudies, many states during this time had challenges empowering womenhence the basis of this novel.

Inthe feminist perspective, this novel portrays women as an oppressedgroup. The themes drawn, language used among other literary aspectsall depict women as a suppressed group. Men are portrayed as thedomineering figure, battering their women and sexually harassingthem. Women are not involved in any major roles except beingsupportive of their husbands. Girl child education is also notmandatorily adhered to. For instance, Celie does not complete schoolafter being impregnated by her own father. As the letters usedsymbolize, she has limited education, is not a good communicator, allbecause she dropped out of school. The sufferings she undergoesthrough all outline the fate of women during this period.


Thestory circles around a 14 year old girl by the name Celie residing inthe South of America. Celie is uneducated and naïve and continuouslywrites to God since her own father unceasingly rapes and beats her.Alphonso her dad impregnates her on several occasions. Her ailingmother would later die but not before cursing Celie. Celie wouldlater marry mister leaving her smaller sister Nettie alone with herfather. However, Nettie would later run away from Alphonso to seekrefuge at her sister’s place. The story continues with Nettie wholeaves the place to seek a better life after being advised by hersister. As portrayed by both mister and Alphonso, there tends to bewomen suppression within the society.

Harpowho is mister’s son, marries Sofia who is quite defiant to submitto Harpo’s control. This aspect amazes Cilie who in turn tries toadvice Harpo to try a less domineering approach towards his wife.Though Harpo tries this for a while, he could not withstand it anymore. In his attempt to beat up Sofia, Harpo faces retaliation thatend up injuring him. Sofia defends herself well and advices Cilie todo the same against Mister. Tired of Harpo’s behavior, Sofiadecides to move out taking the children with her. During this timeShug, Mister’s mistress shelters in their place after falling ill.Cilie and Shug would grow fond of each other with time.

Inone instance, while Sofia and her beau were enjoying a day out, MissMillie, the mayor’s wife approaches then and physically abuses thechildren. She addresses them in a manner reminiscent of slaves, anact which disturbs Sofia. The mayor’s wife goes further askingSofia to be her maid. Her reply makes the mayor to intervene and evenslap Sofia who retaliates by knocking the mayor using her fist. Thepolice would intervene and brutally beat up Sofia injuring her badly.She would then be jailed for 12 years.

Afterrecovering Nettie’s letters which were hidden by Mister, Celiewould learn about her sister’s whereabouts. Working as amissionary, Nettie befriends Corrine and Samuel who as we later learnparent Celie’s children unknowingly. In the latter stages of thenovel, Celie goes back into her childhood home after her fatherAlphonso passes on. Nettie her sister comes back to America and itends with them embracing each other after missing each other for morethan 30 years.

Thenovel entails various other happenings trying to insinuate differentthemes. It is a reflection of events that occurred within the stateduring the 1930s including, women suppression, racism among others.As portrayed by several instances, power was also used to oppress theless fortunate. Though the novel is not entirely circle Celie, herexperience provides the focal point to draw various lessons. How sheis treated by her own father, Mister and to some extent shrug alldepict a troubled character. It exemplifies the plight of womenduring this era.


Sexismis one of the most evident theme within this novel. There tends to bea general discrimination against women in the entire novel. First,Celie is mistreated by her own father and later Mister. Due to thisupbringing, she misadvises Harpo to beat up Sofia. Another aspect ofsexism is depicted by Celie’s treatment of her own daughter.Instead of protecting Celie from her father’s advances, she blamesher and even curses her before death. These aspects portray womensuppression within the society. Further examples are seen when Sofiais beaten up by police after trying to defend her children.

Theauthor in this case tries to enlighten the general public on genderissues and how women are mistreated in various sections within thesociety. Gender sensitivity is not a common aspect among differentcommunities. Women are deemed inferior to men and hence ought to besubmissive to them. Cases of disrespect could lead to fightsespecially women being beaten up whenever they show any act ofdisrespect. Men are depicted as the domineering species, leavingwomen to play second fiddle. In many instances, men are seen to havethe final say. This aspects are still common in the current world. Asthe author evidently suggests, women oppression goes along way back.The most challenging aspect is that the stereotype is also sharedwith other women. In other words, women are their own enemies.Instead of backing each other, they mostly indulge in acts that tendto suppress their counterparts. For instance, the mayor’s wifetreatment of Sofia, Celie’s advise to Harpo that involved beatingup Sofia. Most of them are brought up in that manner hence believethere place in life is already fixed no matter how bad they aretreated.

Racismis also quite evident within this novel. The mayor’s wifeshamelessly sexually assaults Sofia’s children. She even goesfurther to invite Sofia to work as her maid. This sentiments angersSofia arrogantly responds “hell no”. The offer in this case is areflection of racism. Additionally, as entailed in Nettie’sletters, American blacks tend to have racial views about the Africanpeople. Generally, during this era, oppression in the perspectives ofrace were quite common. People were judged in accordance to theirrace leading to various mistreatments. Sofia in this case suffers asa result of racism. Being beaten up by police due to simply defendingyour children categorically affirms racism.

Thesisterhood bond is widely portrayed within this novel. It does notnecessarily mean blood sisters, instead it includes all the womenwithin the book. The author in this case tries to emphasize on thestrong bonds between women. Celie and Nettie exemplify strong bondsthat assist them counter any detrimental aspects. Celie also formsstrong bonds with shrug and Sofia who assist each other in differentways. Generally, strong relations between women is portrayed as thebest way of curbing women oppression. As the author typically suggestin this theme, women ought to support each other to succeed in theirundertakings. Limiting women to women conflicts is also a major thingto consider. Women tend to deny each other vital posts even thoughthey have the capacities to take over. It is the core aim of thistheme i.e. sisterhood is a symbol of unity.


Useof letters is a common feature within this paper. It is the core modeof communication especially involving people at a far distance. Forexample, Celie and Nettie uses letters to communicate. The author inthis case tries to emphasize on the power of relaying informationusing characters i.e. letter writing. Celie writes to God telling Himof her sufferings praying for guidance. Letters are a strongcommunication media that effectively relays information. They putacross much emphasis more than many other media. The author tries toelaborate further the effectiveness of letters. Celie could onlyexpress herself through letters to God. Her true desires are entailedwithin the letters. Her real feelings as well as despair could onlybe expressed in terms of words. In her final letter, Celie writes toGod stating that she had forgiven Him. Her story had gone throughlots of circles up to the end. Generally, letters in this caserepresent the best channel of expressing grief and despair. Theyrepresent the best media by which people can totally expressthemselves.


Emphasison women rights is a recurring motif within this paper. The aspectsof women mistreatments are quite vast within the novel. The examplesrange from Celie own sexual assaults, Sofia assaults among others.The aspects are quite many within the novel and the author tries tooutline the same. In accordance, to the author, women were suppressedso much that they had no chance of making an impact within thesociety. The same could be said in some parts of the globe hence theneed to go curb them. The rights could also be narrowed down tonaming rights among others. In that regard, men had more control onnaming thus discriminating against women.

Celie’slanguage: characteristics an implications

Withnumerous critics on Celie’s letters i.e. extensive monologues,expressiveness, poignancy and color, it still poses great challengeson readers. Readers tend to have problems comprehending thenarrations and takes a while to understand the rule governed languageof the speaker. Celine actually depicts the author’s sense ofaesthetics and history. Black English as elaborated by linguists isdistinctive due to its consistency. Regarded as African AmericanEnglish, the language is a mechanism of sentence structure, word,sound, organization of vocabulary and meaning among otherinformation. By utilizing repetition of linguistic facets, the authortries to produce the black voices. As the Celie’s lettersprogressed so did the complexity of the sentences i.e. immensevocabulary, subject matters as well as sentence lengths. When sheopens up her own businesses, Celie is advised to improve her Englishi.e. adopt the “White folks” mechanisms. Though she tries hard todo the same, it does not materialize. She wants to continue with herown autonomy hence the refusal to adopt another linguistic systemtypically for while people [ CITATION PiL08 l 1033 ].

Readerscould also realize celie is neither proficient nor confident inlinguistics with numerous verb tense issues as well as reportedspeech. The language aspects of this novel try to exemplify thesituation during that era. Celie progressively improves her languageas well as her self-confidence. With the recognition on hersignificance, Celie traces her own independency and identity. Shebecomes self-assured beaming with confidence of recognition ofherself [ CITATION PiL08 l 1033 ].

Theentire novel could be clustered within four phases of Celie’s lifei.e. violence, communication, education and independency. Celie’slife at the beginning was full of violence especially from malecharacters. She faces violent and abusive ordeals from her father.She additionally faces degradation from her own mother allexemplifying the detrimental attitudes towards Celie. Her stepfatherimpregnates her leading to removal from school thus closing thechances of learning. Nettie then becomes her tutor helping out inperfecting writing and reading. Even after Nettie left, Shrug comesin to help out Celie become more independent. In that respect, theaspects of education continue to evolve within the novel all in theaim of making Celie more independent.

Shrugalso helps Celie to communicate through development of the language.As times went by, Celie become more comfortable with the language.She could converse much better and her self-confidence went a notchhigher. Recognition from other people emanated to Celie identifyingherself and becoming more independent. The letters outline theprogress Celie achieves from being violently abused and poorcommunicator to a more confident individual. Violence, limitededucation, poor communication and lack of independence areexperienced in many places especially against women. Celie is just arepresentation of the various individuals suffering from the same.The author clearly elaborates events through this period with anotion that all will be improved. Though the setting is in ruralGeorgia, the events could be seen in various parts of the country andthe globe at large. Women empowerment demands proper education thatnormally lead to independence. As portrayed by Celie, all theseaspects are achievable if afforded appropriate attention [ CITATION Per10 l 1033 ].

Alterationsof cultural gender roles

Asportrayed within the novel, several acts tend to alter thetraditional gender roles. They portray breakage of boundaries betweenthe male and females. For instance, Harpo’s insecurities leading tophysical assaults among other effects. Sofia is also depicted asstrong. This is evidenced by her undertakings i.e. knocking the mayorwith her fist, physically outshining Harpo her husband among others.Shug is also portrayed as sexually assertive. All these showdisparity between the two genders.

Inthe traditional setting, men are meant to be strong, sexuallyassertive and domineering over women. Whatever they say is adhered toand basically they tend to assert control over women. On the otherhand, women are bound to be submissive and less builders of homes.Whereas men are allowed to be polygamous having mistresses, it is notthe same case with women. Deeds done to overpower men are greatlydiscouraged in the traditional setting. However, this particularnovel tends to bridge the gap. Women in this case have some mentraits whereas men have women traits. The relation shows disparitiesbut does not necessarily insinuate change of roles.


Thenovel assists readers to know what the black race faced in theAmerican history. It exposes a lifestyle during certain periods ofthe American history. However, the author does not only describeprejudices against the blacks, but forces one to be among theoppressed race as the struggle to rhythm is achieved. Historicalfiction, ethnic group fiction and fiction about other countriesshould be included in social classes within highs schools. The novelis able to bring to light prejudices faced by Blacks in a manner thatthe reader feels he/she is there. The reader may want to tryoutmechanisms of curbing racism. It tends to give one self-esteem tolead in fighting racism.


Walkerdoes an excellent work in coming up with an interesting yet intricatenovel owing to the aspects entailed within it. The novel generallycircles around Celie. By basing on Celie, aspects of violence,communication, education and independence are exemplified. Celie isin a violent family, being abused and even impregnated by herstepfather. Her progress is tremendous, gathers some education andlearns how to communicate thereby achieving independence. By lookingat the entire life of Celie, the author elaborates how achievementscan be made through considerable progress.

Womenrights is another aspect elaborated within the novel, with womenbeing suppressed in many ways. Women rights are violated owing to thetraditional ways involved. However, the theme of sisterhood bridgesthis gaps. Sisterhood does not necessarily have to be related byblood. Women in this case help each other to improve and attainindependence. The author clearly outlines women suppression acts. Thenovel also outlines the aspects of racism affecting the society.Though the novel was written a long time ago, aspects of racism stillexist. Racism is also depicted among Black American’s and theirAfrican counterparts.

Severalthemes can be drawn from this novel including sisterhood, racism andsexism. All these themes are entailed within the novel as elaboratedearlier. The author also utilizes letters as a mean of communication.Letters tend to express the actual feelings or despair of individualsthus providing the best mechanism for the author [ CITATION Khe09 l 1033 ].


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