The Color Purple Literary Analysis

Words: 1847
Pages: 8

At the beginning of the novel The Color Purple by Alice Walker, the narrator, Celie Johnson, suffers from psychological and sexual abuse at the hands of her father, Alphonso, and her husband, Albert Johnson. However, by the end of the novel, Johnson realizes her inner strength and comes to terms with the abusive men in her life as well as her place in society. Celie Johnson’s successful struggle to escape the assertion of power by the men in her life reflects the determination of African American females in the early twentieth century to conquer abusive behavior and assert their power over a patriarchal and prejudicial society.

The men in Celie’s life perpetrate many acts of graphic abuse against her, emphasizing the physical and emotional
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She is also subjected to the aftermath of her husband Albert’s failed quest for power, resulting in her being verbally and physically assaulted. In conversations with her, Albert insults Celie by saying “You [are] black, you [are] pore, you [are] ugly, you a woman. Goddamn, he say, you nothing at all” (Walker 187). Because Albert is denied Nettie, Celie’s sister and the woman of his choice, he becomes a womanizer and a child-abuser. Albert beats and verbally abuses women because it makes him feel dominant and aggressive, in control of the situation and the decisions that are made. And with these actions, he no longer feels victimized and powerless. Consequently, Celie, like many other black women married to black men in the 1900’s, becomes his servant, and he exercises full control over her. He controls her by dictating her life, forcing her to obey his commands and he invariably beats her and reduces her womanly status even in the presence of his own children. (Dixon). His philosophy that “nothing can [teach women their place in society] better than a good sound beating,” (Walker 42) not only reflects the unusual treatment toward many black young women in the early twentieth century, stressing the injustice and advocating for a more humane treatment of women in society, but how the male’s instinctive quest to dominate other people in their society is the source of this unjust inequality.
But in the face of abuse,
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When Nellie says “But God, I miss you, Celie. I think about the time you laid yourself down for me. I love you with all my heart,” (Walker 140), Celie claims a sense of joy that she never realized was possible, as well as the knowledge that her strong, constant faith and her ability to hold on reunited her with Nettie and with her own children. In her literary criticism, Linda Selzer argues that “The Color Purple suggests that the individual realizes her full potential only within the supporting bonds of a strong kinship group,” and by becoming Celie's female companion and helping her to find a new outlook on life, Nellie encourages her to begin to grow stronger and find who she truly is, how to love and what it