The Color Purple - Novel Analysis
In the short story “The Color Purple,” author Alice Walker describes the life of Celie, a black woman growing up in the South. She must overcome racism and poverty to establish herself as an independent person. The novel also follows the maturation of her sister Nettie and the lives of Shug, Albert, and much of his extended family. A motif in “The Color Purple” is the recurring concept of roundness. The concept of roundness relates to the shape of the human body, and especially the female body. The letters are also another motif in the novel. The letters play an important role in conveying Celie’s thoughts and emotions throughout her life. Walker suggests that oppressed people can unite with solidarity to overcome their oppressors. A sub theme of “The Color Purple” is the harm inflicted on the Black community, both by their own cycle of violence and the racially motivated hatred of Negroes in the South.
The protagonist in “The Color Purple” is Celie, an African-American woman who is treated badly, especially by men. In spite of the hardships she endures, she maintains a beautiful spirit of perseverance and love. As Celie discovers and reads the letters Mr. ______ has been hiding from her for years, the novel escalates. The climax of the story comes when Celie decides to join Shug Avery on the road, leaving her husband behind. In a dramatic voice, she tells him and his family of all the pain they have caused her in her life. She curses her husband with impotence and loneliness. The novel is first person point-of-view. An example of the first person narration is, “I am fourteen years old. I
have always been a good girl.” The irony that occurs in the story is about Mr. ______’s love affair with Shug. Mr.______ beats Celie because she is not Shug, but in the end, Shug realizes she can never be with a man that mentally and physically abuses his wife.
The novel is written entirely in the form of letters to God and Nettie. Each letter gives the reader greater insight into Celie’s life, and serves as her way of communicating with the world. The reader can track Celie’s growth and maturity through the letters. The novel begins with Celie addressing the letters to God, but as the story progresses, her letters turn from God to her sister Nettie. The letters symbolize her transition of faith from God to her faith in Nettie.
Mr. _______’s son, Harpo, also symbolizes Celie’s persona. Although “Harpo nearly big as his daddy, “he weak in will.” Like Celie, Harpo was an object of Mr. _______’s abuse, emotional and physical. [next page]