Alice Walker s The Color Purple is a captivating and touching novel about life of a poor African American woman — Celie, living in the deep rural south at the turn of the twentieth century. During her difficult life, Celie writes letters to God in which she tells him about her being. As the story evolves, many major circumstances in Celie s life are changing. In the beginning she is a daughter, then she is a wife, a sister and a mother. Throughout her life, Celie is surrounded by other characters both men and women who contribute to her life both in a positive way and negative. While men seem to be the ones, who make Celie s life tough, women are the ones who give her the support she needs. For the major part of her youth she had to struggle to survive; she had to have a lot of strength and character to stay alive and to get a better life that she had at the end.
Celie sees herself ugly and stupid. The reason for this is because her father and later her husband told her so. Celie had to leave school because her father raped her and got her pregnant. This brought a lot of pain and emotional downfall but in spite of this with a great help of her younger sister Nettie, Celie tried her best to learn what she missed in school. It was very important for her, because she realized that knowledge is one of the ways to become strong and to improve in life. Us both be hitting Nettie s schoolbooks pretty hard, cause us know we got to be smart to git away. I know I m not as smart or as pretty as Nettie but she say I ain t dumb. (Page 10). In spite of the physical, sexual, and verbal abuse that Celie got from her father, she not only managed to survive but also to get way from her home, where she knew nothing but sufferings. Also, Celie kept the desire to get a better life, which was probably, the most important aspect that helped her to change her life.
Her strength as a black woman in the South was mainly in the fact that she knew how to survive. She never talked back; never protested against the cruelty she was treated with. She didn t try to change the way she was treated because it was more dangerous for her than living the way she did. It is not an unusual fact in a life of a black woman, living to be killed by a man. She had to accept and live with all the abuse and embarrassment that she received first from her father and then from her husband. She had to survive the rape, very hard labor, being treated like an animal and not having a right to do what she want to, or to say what she was thinking. In order for a woman to stay alive and mentally normal in this kind of reality she has to close her eyes, close her heart, grind her teeth together and keep going her way. Perhaps, this kind of way of survival is not too worthy but it is very practical and the most important, it was the one that works. She lived long enough to live a better and a happier life and obviously she deserved it.
Yet, Celie s major strength was not only her ability to carry on, under terrible conditions she has to live in. In spite of the fact that she has to kill her own personality and live the way that would allow her to survive, she was able to keep love, generosity and kindness in her soul. Supposedly, she hated her father and husband but there is not even one word that resembles such negative feelings towards them. Even her cruel father mentioned that when he was trying to get rid of her. Celie is always nice to the kids. It doesn t even matter to her if the children are related to her or not. Although she is not attracted to them she takes a very good care of them and acts like a mother.
After Celie got married to selfish and nasty Mr.______, Nettie for a while stayed in Celie s new house. Mr.________ was in love with Nettie, but because she rejected him, he kicks her out of his house. This brought a lot of pain for Celie to see her dear sister leave, but she still dealt with it. For a long time Celie was Shug Avery s huge admirer. Shug Avery was a very famous jazz singer. For Celie she meant an ideal image of a black woman. She would want to dress like her, act like and just be her. And ironically, two women are gathered together in the house of a man who is in love with one of them and who uses another one for self-serving sex and for doing all the necessary housework. Celie s husband Mr.______ did not even try to hide his felling toward Shug Avery. He did not treat Celie as his wife; he just treated her as a housekeeper–a slave. When he brought Avery Shug into his house she was seriously ill and he had Celie help her to get well. Even though Celie loved Avery Shug with all her heart and supposedly hated her husband it must have been really painful for her to see her husband love other woman. Of course, they were not a traditional, loving couple but they had sex. Knowing that Mr.______ loves and wants to have sex with another woman have made her feel like a prostitute. Still, she overcame her feelings and treated Avery Shug with all the love and tenderness. The strength of that love is so big that Celie is actually cured Avery.
Shug had a very crucial influence on Celie s life. She helped her to reveal her strengths and use it against the existing situations. It s a known fact that it is very important to love and to be loved. Until Celie met Shug Avery she had no idea what love and romance are. Shug helped to shatter Celie s image of her inner and outer ugliness by encouraging her to explore and enjoy the beauty of her own body and soul. She began to feel like a woman, which made her love even stronger.
Finally, after so many years Celie got the life she waited for and could actually enjoy. This change was not accidental. She deserves it as much as very few women do. It looks like God, to whom she was revealing all her secrets, gave her a blessing. Only the strongest woman with big soul and love for others deserves such a dramatic change in her life.