Celie's Struggle for Freedom in The Color Purple
Events in history have influenced writers’ style, genre, and emphasis in their stories. 1 Alice Walker was greatly influenced by the time period of the 1940’s. There was much racism and oppression during that time, especially for black women. Women were beaten and abused simply because of their color and gender. Celie, a young black woman, endured many hardships reflective of the time period including racism, oppression, and sexism but remained strong in her faith in God and overcame these obstacles to show the quiet strength of a woman. The oppression of black women is very evident in The Color Purple (Ryan 3062). It is especially shown in the relationship between father and daughter, Alphonso and Celie(Fulmer 1). From the time Celie is very young she is subject to oppression. She is raped repeatedly by her stepfather and is told to keep quiet about it (Walker 1). This is very demeaning to Celie and it causes her to fear men for a good portion of her life (Walker 6). Celie gets pregnant twice with her stepfather. He takes the first baby and “ kilt it out there in the woods.” The other he sells to a family in a nearby town (Walker 3-4). Celie is oppressed all throughout her life, but she learns to overcome it and support herself (Ryan 3062).
Celie also endures other forms of both physical and mental abuse. “He beat me for dressing trampy but he do it to me anyway” (Walker 8). Abuse was very common in those times. It was used for control and ultimately complete domination. Celie could not run from her stepfather because she had nowhere else to go. Alphonso later forces Celie to marry the Reverend Mr.______. This is not that bad for Celie because she no longer has to deal with the abuse from her stepfather. However, life with Mr. ____ is not much better.
Celie is also sexually abused by Mr._____. Even though they are married, he forces Celie to have sex with him. “Never ast me how I feel, nothing. Just do his business, get off, go to sleep” (Walker 81). Celie hates Mr.____ for this, and she lives her life with him like it is a dream. She wishes that she could just disappear. But, Celie will not run away. She is too scared of life without Mr._____. Celie has never been by herself and that scares her (Clarke 2). Celie’s first sign of hope comes from a woman named Shug Avery. Abuse of the wife by the husband was very common at that time. The males had the need to prove themselves to the wives and they did this through control. Women were supposed to obey their husbands and if they refused they were ostracized by society. The women in the household were expected to do all of the housework including cleaning, cooking, taking care of the children and waiting on the husbands hand and foot.
Women’s rights worldwide were non-existant during the 1940’s. They were seen as second-class citizens. Celie’s sister Nettie, a missionary in Africa, quotes an Ethiopian woman, “A...