The Color Purple Essay
Alice Walker’s epistolary novel The Color Purple depicts a young woman constantly subjected to abuse and insults. One of the many prominent themes throughout the book is the power of female relationships; Walker portrays female relationships as a means to fight against injustice and suffering. These relationships form a refuge from a male dominated world full of brutality and violence. The relationships in The Color Purple take many forms for example: some are motherly, sisterly, friendships, and even sexual. Most notable is Celie’s bond with Shug which helps both women discover their true selves in a cruel world.
Although at first glance Shug Avery’s character is the polar opposite of Celie; Shug is confident, loves to be in the spotlight and is constantly chased by men while Celie is being tormented and abused by different people throughout the book. Both women are much oppressed people and the strengthening of their relationship helps them become who they want to be. Celie was always being weighed down by her emotionless state and her lack of self-esteem while Shug always wanted to be a member of a loving family. This is evident in the quote “(Mama) never love to do nothing had to do with touching nobody, she say. I try to kiss her, she turn her mouth away. Say, Cut that out, Lillie.” (Walker 120). By being Celie’s mentor and friend, Shug was allowed to be a different person. Both characters became what they were told they would become; during her childhood Celie was always told she was ugly, useless, and worthless. Alphonso and Mr ___ were always tormenting her with these comments so she eventually became and believed she was ugly. Even Shug’s first words with Celie were “you sure is ugly” (Walker 46). When Shug falls ill to what appears to be a sexually transmitted disease “her mammy say she told her so” and “her pappy say, Tramp.” (Walker 43). People see Shug as a tramp and a whore, although she was a woman that all the men desired and all the women despised because she did not let people stop her. During Shug and Celie’s relationship it is evident that neither of the characters felt comfortable in the roles that were defined for them by other people.
The creation of Celie’s intimate bond with Shug is a major turning point in the story; growing up, Celie never knew what love and kindness felt like. It is evident at the start of the book that Celie does not know how to express her emotions and feelings when she writes to God about the death of her mother. “My mama dead. She die screaming and cussing, she scream at me. She cuss at me.” (Walker 2). Celie knows how to state the events from what she saw but despite the hardship she endures, she has…