The Colour Purple PR

The Colour Purple is a controversial novel written by Alice Walker. It is criticized due to the stereotypes of the black community that are portrayed in the book. However, I appreciate the authentic and realistic description of the situation and convention in society, in particularly Georgia, during the early to mid-19th century.

The society of The Colour Purple rationalized gender oppression and racial oppression as it is a patriarchal and white superior society. Women must obey men’s demands, just as Sofia must obey Harpo’s demands; Celie must obey Albert’s command. Celie, the main character of The Colour Purple, obeys Albert and work like a “tree” burying her own feeling. When Albert beats her, she does not fight back. In contrast with Celie, Sofia, a rebellion against her husband, Harpo’s command, is beaten by Harpo as a result and as everyone’s expectation. However, in response to the theme of the disruption of traditional gender roles, Sofia does not obey him, she fights against him. Squeak, Harpo’s new girlfriend has been longing for respect by wanting people to address her by her real name – Mary Agnes. In response to another theme – racial equality, black people are not necessarily working for white people anymore. Nettie used to think Africa was the “heaven” for black people until she saw African black people in Monrovia working for European companies. This demonstrates the social division and racial inequality even in the “heaven of black people”. In response to another theme of The Colour Purple – racial equality, society, some white people start to respect black people, particularly Eleanor Jane, the mayor’s wife after Sofia teaches her to drive. At the end of the story, Eleanor Jane works for Albert’s family by making yam for Henrietta to cure her disease.

Celie’s transformation and self-discovery process are also significant in The Colour Purple. Celie buries her emotions when she is first with Albert. She aims to stay alive.

I don’t fight. I stay where I’m told. But I’m alive. (Celie, p.22)

Celie just hopes to stay alive regardless of how she is treated, she bears everything just to stay alive due to her devastating past, including being sexually abused by her “father”. The Colour Purple, for me, signifies Celie’s thoughts and ideas. When Kate, who is Albert’s sister brings Celie to buy new clothes, Celie wants clothes with purple and red but there are not any purple and red is too expensive. This shows the suppression from other people towards Celie. Throughout The Colour Purple, Celie starts to express her idea once she knows Shug accepts her. She also realizes that she is not sexually attracted to men, but to women, which challenges the gender convention in the narrow-minded society during the 19th century. Celie does not wear pants because she thinks Albert does not allow her to, yet when Shug tells her to try, she loves to wear them. She even starts a business of making pants for everyone, and everyone accepts her new thoughts and ideas. This encourages Celie to express her ideas and own self to other people as people will accept who she is. At the end of the story, Celie renovates the house that Alphonso, her and Nettie’s stepdad’s heritage. She paints her room purple and red. This resonates with the beginning, in which Celie wants clothes in purple and red. Her room signifies that she finds a safe and free space to express her own ideas and thoughts, where no one judges.

A quote near the end of The Colour Purple strikes my mind:

I start to wonder why us need love. Why us suffer. Why us black. Why us men and women. Where do children really come from. It didn’t take long to realize I didn’t hardly know nothing. And that if you ast yourself why you black or a man or a woman or a bush it don’t mean nothing if you don’t ask why you here, period. (p.280)

My interpretation of this quote is if we spend our entire lives wondering why unfortunate events happen to us, and why people treat us badly, it is a waste of time and effort since it means nothing. Instead, we should wonder why are we living and for what are we living. This motivates us to live even when we are experiencing unfortunate, just like Celie, even though she experiences devastating events throughout life, she stays alive, hoping to reunite with Nettie in the future. This makes her life memorable. This quote reminds me that even when life treats you badly, stay hopeful and optimistic, and find something that is worth your attention to motivate you to stay alive. Live isn’t that bad and it will eventually be better, like the reunion of Celie, Nettie, and her children at the end of the story.

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