The Color Purple by Alice Walker tells the story of a young African American woman named Celie who lives in a male-dominated society. Celie tells her story through a series of letters, first addressed to God, but eventually she addresses them to her sister Nettie. As a young girl, she is raped by her stepfather and has two of his children, who are taken away. Then she is forced to marry a man who abuses her. She refers to her husband as Mr._____ throughout most of the novel, showing that he is superior to her. According to Walker, throughout her marriage, Celie knows that Mr. _____ married her just “to take care of his children” (66). Later on, Mr.____’s mistress, Shug Avery, comes to live with Celie and her family. Shug is an outgoing and independent young woman who does not follow the orders of men. Celie falls in love with Shug because Shug shows her that she can be powerful and independent as well. Shug tells Celie that “man corrupt everything” (Walker 204). Her sister Nettie lives in Africa and she writes letters to Celie.
When she learns that her stepfather has passed away, there is a change in Celie’s attitude. She finds out that she is the owner of the home her stepfather has lived in. She takes charge and fixes the home, preparing it for her sister Nettie. She also starts her own type of business, sewing pants for a living. By living in the new home, she left Mr.______ whom she begins to call Albert, showing that she is not subservient to the men in her life. She actually starts to form a strong friendship with Albert after she moves out of the house. He appreciates her more.
Celie writes to her sister and she finds comfort talking to Shug as a way to deal with the oppression. But there are other women in the novel who fight their husbands. Do you think that it is easier for most people to come to terms with oppression in their lives or to fight it?
Shug was Celie’s inspiration to break away from the submissive life she was living. To what degree do you think people can have such a strong impact on others, as to change their lives for better or worse?