Looking At The Color Purple
In The Color Purple, the story is told through letters. It is a novel about an oppressed woman, and the letters are important. Letters have been one of the few means of expression of oppressed women for many years. The author's choice of letters as a form of presentation has a number of consequences.
In the first place, the story will be told by the author or authors of the letters: in this case, Celie and, in a small part of the novel, her sister, Nettie. This means the language of the story will be the one used by the person who writes the letter. In The Color Purple, Celie's letters are in the language of a black girl who has left school very early in life while Nettie's are in perfect, standard English.Celie is so immersed in oppression, she accepts the point of view of Mr.: she advises Harpo to beat Sofia. Thus, she agrees with her oppressor in the idea that a woman should only obey, work, and be silent.
After this moment of deep humiliation, Celie has 'the first serious conversation in the book. Sofia comes to see her, furious, and Celie has to explain her attitude. She discovers she is jealous of Sofia's capacity to fight. This conversation is a new beginning for Celie. Both women find a moment of community, they do something together.
The pronoun "us" is formally used: "I laugh. She laugh. Then us both laugh so hard us flop down on the step."The only way bring about the change is to communicate.
The Color Purple's conclusion is that first we must communicate with ourselves (our real "I"), then with the rest of the human beings (with whom we will achieve a "we," a community), and then with God (It)--this different God who appears in the opening of the last letter: "Dear God. Dear stars, dear trees, dear sky, dear peoples. Dear Everything, Dear God." The travel towards communication is dangerous, especially if one starts it as a prisoner of eternal silence, as Celie does. Nettie's travel is parallel but less complex. The final scene, that of the meeting of the two sisters, represents the recovery of Celie's and Nettie's "we," their home.
In The Color Purple, home is something one must fight to find. Celie does not move from her birthplace but she has traveled as much as her sister.
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