Celies Constructed Colors The Color Purple
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In Alice Walker’s novel, The Color Purple, the character Celie first speaks about color when Mr. ______’s sister takes her shopping. She admires a woman she knows only by a photograph (Shug Avery) and she wants a dress that she thinks Shug might like. “I think what color Shug would wear,” she writes. Although Celie has never actually met Shug she invinsions how she would dress. The colors Celie chooses for the woman she doesn’t know and eventually the color of her own dress come from her constructed views about men, women, sex, and power.
The first color Celie imagines Shug would wear, purple, says a lot about Celie’s original perception of Shug. While Shug’s strength and attitude become apparent at first meeting, Celie instantly recognizes these characteristics from the picture in which Shug has one foot up on an automobile and has on furs and red rouge. In addition to this being the first picture Celie has ever seen, Shug’s pose and wardrobe cause Celie to associate her with the color purple. “She like a queen to me so I say to Kate [Mr. ____’s sister], Somethin purple. . .”
The fact that Celie says that Shug “[is] like a queen” and then immediatly connects her to the color purple says a lot about the constructionism instilled in Celie’s mind. The photograph, the furs, and the car make Celie think Shug has wealth. This explains why the poor, oppressed character would think of her as a queen.
Along with the royalty, Celie also gives Shug power and strength (beyond that of a normal woman’s) based on the wealth she invisions. She views Shug as a powerful queen and yearns to have these things as well. Therefore, she wants to wear purple as she thinks Shug would. However, Celie cannot find anything purple in the store, perhaps symbolizing the lack of opportunities she has to attain power at this point in the novel. Shug can connect to...