Pd. 9 AP English
Independent Reading Assignment Alice Walker’s novel The Color Purple tells the story of a woman who struggles through sexual and physical abuse but is able to find her own voice and her true self. Celie, starting off as an invisible powerless being that is abused by many, is able to recreate herself as a “virgin” and develop her own voice and sense of self-worth. By coming to terms with her homosexual feelings for Shug, she is able to find romantic fulfilment. Sofia, Celie’s friend, represents the self-fulfilled woman, having a strong voice and a refusal to be submissive. Successfully expressing true thoughts and feelings as well as developing a unique voice is the key to finding the true self. Celie’s father abuses and rapes her, leaving her powerless. She gives birth to two children by her father, who then rips them from her arms, leaving Celie to assume that he killed them. Celie has no control over anything and feels that she must obey her father because she has nothing else. When Mr. ___ wants to marry Celie’s younger and more attractive sister, Nettie, her father refuses and gives Mr. ___ Celie instead. Mr. ___ becomes another abuser that causes Celie to feel worthless and powerless. She is forced to cook, clean, care for Mr.___’s children, and lay helplessly as he “does his thing” in the bedroom. Just as Celie is able to crawl out from her father’s power, she is swept right over by Mr.___’s, which may be even worse of a torture. Eventually, Mr.___’s mistress, Shug, moves into the house with them and Celie is forced to accept this without protest. At first, Shug insults Celie and calls her ugly, but as Shug witnesses the abuses Mr.___ subjects Celie to, she feels sorry for her. Shug starts to tell Celie that she is beautiful and has a wonderful smile, but these compliments alone are not enough to make Celie feel any amount of self-worth.
One hurdle that Celie must jump in order to find herself is that she must come to terms with her homosexual feelings for Shug. At first, Celie represses her romantic and sexual feelings for Shug and has a difficult time understanding them. Once Shug begins to reciprocate these feelings, however, Celie is able to accept her feelings as being valid and is finally able to find romantic and sexual fulfillment by pursuing a relationship with her. Celie was forced to marry Mr.___, and was unable to find happiness or satisfaction in the abusive relationship, in which she played a passive role. However, in her relationship with Shug, she is able to be treated as an equal, rather than as inferior. Through accepting her homosexual feelings, and pursuing a fulfilling relationship with a woman, she is able to better love and understand herself and moves toward finding her true self.
The theme is represented in the character Celie and her transition from an abuse victim who has no voice or power to someone who is able to rewrite her own history and reinvent herself as someone with a newfound power, that power being a voice. The author of this novel, Alice Walker, was the victim of an accidental shooting that left her disfigured and blind in one eye. Alice Walker embodies the theme of developing your own voice and she is able to achieve that through