Literary Analysis Essay On The Color Purple

The Color Purple is most clearly about the transforming power of love; Celie, Shug, and many of the other characters grow and change after being loved and learning to love in return. After Celie has left Albert, he is loved and cared for by his son Harpo. Albert reflects on the way in which he has treated Celie and the lessons that he has learned from watching Celie and Shug together; he becomes more thoughtful and considerate as a result. Albert and Celie become friends in the end and sit on the porch together smoking pipes and talking; when Nettie and the children return, Celie introduces Albert, along with Shug, as “her people.”

Albert lets Celie teach him to sew and helps her to make the clothes that she sells; he is no longer afraid that he will lose his masculinity. Harpo has also learned to accept his “feminine” traits and is content to stay home and take care of the house and the children while Sofia manages Celie’s store. Sofia learns to control her desire to dominate everyone and everything and is able to accept help not only from Harpo but also from the mayor’s daughter, Eleanor Jane, who assists Harpo in taking care of the children. Along with Celie, both Sofia and Mary Agnes teach powerful lessons in forgiveness. As these women grow in their ability to love and accept themselves and others, they also learn to forgive themselves and others.

In teaching Celie to love, Shug has helped Celie not only to understand and accept her own individuality but also to broaden her conception of spiritual truth beyond that of the old, white-bearded, blue-eyed God that she has imagined and the narrow conception of the Bible as having been written by white people for white people. Shug’s conception of spiritual truth includes a God who is neither man nor woman, neither black nor white, but is in every living thing and in every human being. Shug’s God also appreciates sexuality and wants people to enjoy themselves. In faraway Africa, Nettie realizes that her traditional picture of Jesus is out of place in her hut in the Olinkan village, and she realizes that the roofleaf which protects the Olinkans is in a sense God to them. Both Celie and Nettie learn that God is not found in church, where people come to share God rather than to find him. An important part of spiritual growth for each individual is developing a unique, personally appropriate image of God, as well as unique, personally appropriate relationships. More spiritual sharing and loving kindness is shown in the juke joint that Harpo opens than in the local church. In the juke joint, Shug sings the song she had written for Celie, and Celie feels appreciated and special. On the other hand, at church Shug has been judged, condemned, and ridiculed.

Another equally important theme deals with the destructive effect of keeping a secret when telling the simple truth could save untold amounts of pain and suffering. Corinne finally learns that Nettie is Adam and Olivia’s aunt rather than their mother, as she had long assumed. She had already decided that Samuel was their father, as no one told her that Samuel had taken the children from Alphonso. Because she was not given an honest explanation, Corinne endured years of painful suspicion about Samuel and Nettie. Moreover, if Celie had realized that her real father was lynched by white people because of his success in managing his store and that Alphonso was her and Nettie’s stepfather, she would not have had to cope with the thought of incest.

Literary Analysis: The Color Purple

There are numerous works of literature that recount a story- a story from which inspiration flourishes, providing a source of liberating motivation to its audience, or a story that simply aspires to touch the hearts and souls of all of those who read it. One of the most prevalent themes in historical types of these kinds of literature is racism. In America specifically, African Americans endured racism heavily, especially in the South, and did not gain equal rights until the 1960s. In her renowned book The Color Purple, Alice Walker narrates the journey of an African American woman, Celie Johnson (Harris), who experiences racism, sexism, and enduring hardships throughout the course of her life; nonetheless, through the help of friends and family, she is able to overcome her obstacles and grow into a stronger, more self-assured individual. While there are numerous themes transpiring throughout the course of the novel, the symbolism is one of the strongest prospects for instigating the plot. In The Color Purple by Alice Walker, numerous symbols influence and drive the plot of the novel.
One of the most important symbols that Walker incorporates into the plot is the letters written by Celie to either God or Nettie, signifying the power of voice. The epistolary format of the novel itself enables readers to understand Celie, whose letters are initially addressed to God. After being raped by her stepfather at the age of fourteen, he tells her to “never tell nobody but God” (Walker 1); thus, Celie’s original letters are presented more as confessions and prayers. This first letter itself “initiates the story of Celie's unrelenting victimization” (Bloom, and Williams 77-88), and the audience notices that the way in which Celie narrates the events occurring in her life over due course of the next several letters lack sentiment and opinion. According to Harold Bloom, “For Celie, the practice of addressing God simply reaffirms her solitude; she is essentially writing to herself” (Bloom, and Williams 77-88). This submissive practice nonetheless carries over onto her daily life, and ensues until her relationship with Shug Avery strengthens. After Celie begins to experience a spiritual, emotional, and sexual awakening as a result of this bond, her letters reflect her newfound emotional capacity. Bloom enforces this ideal, claiming, “Shug is the route through which Nettie's letters are restored” (Bloom, and Williams 77-88). With the figurative resurrection of her sister through Shug’s support, Celie’s power of voice grows. She begins to think for herself and express her thoughts more vividly, claiming, "My life stop when I left home, I think. But then I think again. It stop with Mr._______ maybe, but start up again with Shug" (Walker 85). The audience, who was Celie’s only recluse for thought, views her becoming more verbal and opinionated in reality as well; for instance, during her final standoff with Mr._______, she exclaims, "You a lowdown dog is what's...

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