The Color Purple by Alice Walker helped me expand and question my own idea of religion. Celie has a drastic change as a character, and how her idea of religion and God changes. When Celie is first introduced, Walker depicts her as a naïve, scared, and passive girl. She allows life to push her down, and doesn’t push back. She doesn’t have anyone close to her except for her sister, Nettie. While Celie continues to float through life, she slowly gets introduced to stronger female characters. These women didn’t allow life to take advantage of them, and they helped Celie become more in tune with herself. Whether that had to do with her sexual wellbeing, her self image, and her religious beliefs.
At first, Celie doesn’t have a very open idea of God, “He big and old and tall and graybearded and white” (p.193). In response, Shug opens up to Celie, saying that to Shug, God is an “it” (p.194) rather than an old white man. Because of Celie’s love and admiration for Shug, she takes this idea into consideration. After this conversation, Celie becomes more active in her life. She leaves her abusive marriage, starts a business, and gains property. She becomes fully independent. Religion needs to be fluctuating. This is because we, as humans, need something to believe in, whether it’s fully committing to one religion or not. We love labels, but just like sexuality, some people don’t want labels, specifically on their religious beliefs. Possibly because we don’t really know what we believe in, or we can’t decide, or we change, and can’t commit to one. This is one struggle Celie was dealing with throughout these letters. She was born in a society where there was only one way of thinking, and if you cannot meet these guidelines, you’re a sinner. Early in the novel, Celie expressed guilt for not being able to commit emotionally to the society’s version of God. “Couldn’t be mad at my daddy cause he my daddy. Bible say, Honor father and mother no matter what” (p.41). This version of God harmed Celie more than guided her and healed her. A religion should be something that helps you become a better person, not to restrict and shame you. Therefore, once Shug introduced the idea of being able to choose your own God, and choose your own beliefs, she started having more motivation and ambition. Something to live for, something to prove.
I believe that we all have our own religion, whether or not, society accepts it as one. We all have something or someone we believe in, we all have a small idea of where we might go when we die, and have some moral code of what’s right or wrong. And we don’t need to label ourselves or fully commit to one idea of God. Just like Celie, we need to stop trying to fit into society, and be able to change the guidelines that are restricting us negatively.