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Sample essay topic, essay writing: The Color Purple - 1349 words
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The Results of Celie's Physical and Mental Abuse In 1982 Alice Walker titled her Pulitzer Prize Winning novel, The Color Purple, which is symbolically meant to reflect radiance and majesty (Columbia). It is a story, entirely conveyed through letters, of one young black girl's struggle to escape the brutal and degrading treatment by men, which had become a constant part of her life. Instead of focusing on race throughout the novel Walker accords "greater importance to power, the power to be, to concretize one's self, as to mold others" (Dieke 102). This completely unbalanced power ultimately leaves Celie feeling alone and controlled, which affects her relationships with men and influences her relationship with women, mainly Shug Avery. The horrifying effects of rape and what Celie thought was incest so greatly scarred her for the rest of her life that she lost the ability to love, became confused about her sexuality, and subconsciously denied her right to an identity. For a considerable amount of time Celie blindly accepted the fact that she would be treated like a slave in her own home. As a result, Celie demonstrated intense fear and a complete lack of love toward her husband.
Because Mr. had originally wanted to marry Celie's older sister Nettie he felt that in settling for Celie he had the right to treat her as his property. Celie was completely aware of these arrangements "Mr. marry me to take care of his children. I marry him cause my daddy made me
I don't love Mr. and he don't love me" (Walker 57). As opposed to most marriages being based on trust, love, and commitment, their bond was based on authority, obedience, and service. Mr. immediately brings Shug Avery into his home when he heard that she was sick so that Celie could take care of her along with his children from a previous marriage. After a short period of time Celie learns about their past and about Mr.
's current feelings for Shug. Celie's blatant disregard to Mr. sleeping with Shug again displays complete apathy toward her husband. Mr. 's aggressively dominant role does not denote the conventional husband/wife relationship it seems to more closely represent a master/slave relationship.
Mr. 's constant oppressive presence causes Celie to live in continuous fear. Celie explains that Mr. beats her when she does something wrong and at other times he beats her for no reason at all. "Celie is the ultimate object, someone who exists to satisfy his despotic whims and whose fate is determined by her very essence" (Dieke 103).
Celie lives day-by-day obeying Mr. 's orders and hoping to please him, so she is not physically injured. Constantly undergoing both physical and mental abuse began to weaken Celie's self-perception and personality. "You black, you pore, you ugly, you a woman. Goddam you nothing at all" (Walker 176). Being mistreated at the young age of fourteen by Mr. , a male figure, drove Celie into the arms of a woman.
Having grown up with no stability and no visible figure of love Celie was justifiably confused about her own sexual preferences and affection. Although she had not yet met her, Celie fell in love with her first glimpse of Shug Avery's picture. Many literary critics agree that the color purple represents the "emblematic color of lesbianism" (Gates 20). Celie looked up to Shug, and admired her for being an independent woman who stood completely on her own. Shug was in control of her relationship with Mr.
in a parallel manner to the way Mr. was in complete control of his relationship with Celie. Unhappy with her current unfulfilling lifestyle Celie looked to Shug for advice, for a change. Celie's confused willingness to explore, and Shug Avery's bisexuality provided Celie with necessary emotional support, which led to her personal evolution. Celie relates these feelings and this experience to her inevitable fear of men.
Celie explains that she is not incapable of love, rather she is afraid of men "I look at women tho, cause I'm not scared of them" (Walker 7). Being treated as a servant, rather than a wife and constantly living in fear drove Celie in a new direction. Upon experimenting with a woman Celie was in search for happiness, comfort, and stability. After years of being treated as though she were less than human, Celie subconsciously began to believe this constant ridicule and degradation. Because of the mental torment that she underwent Celie accepts and condones the fact that she does not have the right to an identity. Throughout her entire life Celie never enjoys feelings of freedom or independence, she always does what she is told to do by an authority figure. Celie remains predominantly a background figure when it comes to making decisions; rather Celie listens and carries out someone else's wishes at that time. Mr.
's son Harpo falls in love with a girl named Sophia, because he sees the way his father treats Celie he thinks that abuse is the way that you should treat your wife. Harpo had asked for her advice and when Celie was confronted she admits that she suggested that Harpo beat Sophia. That was a blatant act of jealousy residing solely on the fact that Sophia is able to stick up for herself. Celie is unable to defend herself against Mr. , and completely resents that Harpo can protect herself, and will not allow abuse like this to continue.
These parallel situations caused Celie to confront her own weaknesses. As opposed to Celie and Mr. 's relationship, Harpo and Sophia were truly in love. "Harpo's natural ability to love Sophia- mirrors his father's repressed and denied feelings toward Shug", not toward his wife, Celie (Walsh). Celie, although in many ways mistreated and oppressed by others, chose to silence herself out of fear. "I don't say nothing.
I think bout Nettie, dead. She fight, she run away. What good it do? I don't fight, I stay where I'm told. But I'm alive" (Walker 21). Celie justifies choosing not to defend herself or her rights, by stating that this is the only reason she is still alive.
She feels that if she had spoken up or acted out then the physical abuse may have escalated into murder. Throughout their marriage both Celie and Mr. possess equal amounts of apathy and lack of affection. When Mr. would use Celie for sex, she chose to make herself numb so he did not have the ability to hurt her any more than he already had in the past. She told herself that she was wood, and acted as if she were as unaffected by him as she would be if she were a tree.
By denying all possible feelings, Celie further proves her apathy and complete lack of love or positive emotions toward her husband Mr. . Alice Walker, being the first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize in fiction, has broken through both racial and sexual barriers. (Women's) In writing The Color Purple she has beautifully depicted the life, struggles, and eventually triumph of a young African American girl. Walker's choice to write inepistolary form does allow her to take certain liberties; our knowledge is limited by the interpretive and communicative abilities of the letter writer, thereby permitting Walker to tell her story with almost folktale plainness and lack of complexity" (Walsh 90).As the protagonist of the novel Celie's traumatic experiences have had a great impact on the entirety of her life.
Once married she constantly lived in fear being incapable of love and unable to control her misguided sexual emotions. BibliographyBradley, David. "Novelist Alice Walker: Telling the Black Woman's Story." New York Times Magazine 8 Jan. 1984: 24-37.Dieke, Ikenna. Critical Essays on Alice Walker.
Westport: Greenwood Press,1999.Gates, Henry Louis Jr. and K.A. Appiah. Alice Walker Critical Perspectives Past and Present. NewYork: Amistad Press Inc, 1993.http://www.Womenshistroy.about.com"Race and Domesticity in The Color Purple" African American Review 29 #1 Spring 1995:67-82.The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition Copyright 2001 Columbia University Press.Walker, Alice.
The Color Purple. Orlando: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Publishers 1982.Walsh, Margaret. "The Enchanted World of the Color Purple." Southern Quarterly 25 (1987): 89-101.
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