Celie's Transformation in The Color Purple
Celie is not a typical protagonist. In Alice Walker's The Color Purple, the main character Celie is an ugly, poor girl who is severely lacking in self-confidence. However, Celie transforms throughout the course of the novel and manages to realize herself as a colorful, beautiful, and proud human being. Celie becomes a powerful individual.
The Color Purple follows Celie's transformation from an ugly duckling into a beautiful swan. What is remarkable is the fact that this transformation does not merely compose the plot of the novel, it also dominates the layout of the pages. The book's chapters are not written in a typical fashion as each chapter is a letter written from Celie to God, Celie to her sister Nettie, or Nellie to Celie. Alice Walker utilized this method of storytelling to give the reader a very personal glimpse into Celie's mind and soul. The writer gets a feel for Celie through her writing style- she uses specific phrasing to express herself and, over time, her mechanical writing skills improve greatly. We see Celie's thought process as she makes decisions and then writes about them. This powerful narration is the main driving force behind the words.
If we analyse the story instead of the narrative perspective can we see that the main reason of Celie's insecurity is caused by the way she is treated by men. She is sexually abused by her stepfather during her childhood and is then given away, in the same way as a cow would be, to become the wife (or maybe more; the slave) of Mr. ____. The way Celie's stepfather and Mr. ____ bargain over her is well described in the book and we can truly understand how Celie is being treated; "The women he [Mr. ____] had helping him done quit. His mammy done said No More. He say, Let me see her again. Pa call me. Celie, he say. Like it wasn't nothing. Mr. ____ want another look at you"1. Mr. ____ treats her just as bad as her stepfather once did; she is in the house only to take care of the household, the children and to fulfil Mr. ____'s sexual desires.
Celie's transformation from Mr. ____'s slave into an independent women is successful thanks to two strong women that become role models for Celie in her everyday life; Shug Avery and Sofia. Sofia is a role model in a more unconscious way for Celie then Shug is. Sofia's whole appearance and behaviour is proud, she lets no one sit on her and Celie is, at first, jealous of Sofia's self-confidence and tries to destroy it by giving her husband Harpo the advice to beat her to make her obedient; "I think about this when Harpo ast me what he ought to do to make her mind. [---] I think bout how every time I jump when Mr. _____ call me, she [Sofia] look surprise. And like she pity me. Beat her. I say"2. When this does not work, Celie realises that Sofia is someone to become more alike, not someone to destroy.
Shug Avery, on the other hand, is the women who is not...