Essay about Novel and Epistolary Form

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Walker has created ‘The Color Purple’ in the epistolary form as it contains special features not found in the autobiographic form. Letter’s where written consistently by women in the past as it was a way of recording their lives and reflected upon them by a source of personal growth, as it did for Celie by developing her identity. The epistolary form is consistent throughout the novel combined in short units which creates a series of patterns – a quilt. The effects of using the epistolary form in the novel are that it contributes to the illusion created by Walker.

The epistolary form demonstrates the richness of the language bringing the character to life. In Celie’s own language we can feel the depth of her confusion. Walker emphasizes throughout the novel that the ability to express thoughts and feelings is crucial to develop a sense of self. Initially, Celie is completely unable to resist those who abuse her. Remembering Alphonso’s warning that she “better not never tell nobody but God” about his abuse of her, Celie feels that the only way to persevere is to remain silent and invisible. Celie is essentially an object, who has no power to assert herself through action or words.

Walker arranges the letters in an epistolary form which is usually traces the slaves growing awareness of her oppression thus her identity, her increasing resistance, escape and the final realization of freedom in body and spirit. Her letters are a way of confining her thoughts and secrets, and protecting herself from self-destruction. Celie’s spirit has been brutalized, a fate that she accepts until she is confronted with other role models like Sofia through her resistance in fighting.

‘’Mister’’ was a title that all white men demanded to be called by blacks. It was a way of denigrating black people and labelling them as children, as inferiors who could never be equal to adults. In turn many black men demanded that their wives called them ‘’Mister’’, the restored their wounded pride by imitating the practice of white men on whom they based their definition of manhood. Walker demonstrates the intersections of sexism and racism in black society.

Finally Celie has her realization of her assertion and freedom when she tells Mr___ ‘’I’m pore, I’m black…But I’m here’’ it contrasts sharply with her former silence. Celie releases years of emotion and hurt that has been silenced by Mr___. Mr___ tries to strip Celie of her sense of self as her has throughout the novel, he tells her that she is worth ‘’nothing at all’’. However Celie’s sense of self is strong enough that she is no longer a helpless object, so she resists Mr’s___ proclamation by reinterpreting his words. This letter marks the final passage of the slave narrative and Celie’s realization of freedom in body and spirit.

During this scene there is now a role reversal in which Celie is now suppressing Mr___ through his own verbal abusive language. Mr__ is failing to acknowledge how the woman he married has changed. Celie learns to take control over her aggressive desires where Sofia has provided the lesson that only defeat can result from an attempt to quit violence with violence. Celie in contrast gains victory in speech, when she declares her independence from Albert she feels almost possessed from a mysterious power ‘’I open my mouth the air rush in and shape words’’. Through speech Celie establishes her freedom by breaking Mr’s___ hold on her.

Celie’s curse ‘’until you do right by me, everything will crumble’’ overpowers Mr__ and sink’s him into a life-threatening depression, Walker uses this to show the recognition of power of speech. Celie’s speech inspires Mr___ to reassess and rebuild his life shows that Celie’s attainment of self-respect has truly broken a cycle and not only liberating Clie but others too. This letter illustrates role reversal and the balance of power is truly and profoundly lifted in this letter and thus her search for identity.

Celie’s letters are…