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From Victimization To Independence In The Color Purple

1958 words - 8 pages

The novel The Color Purple by Alice Walker, won the American Book Award in fiction in 1983 (Slomski). Celie was raped and impregnated by the man she considered to be her father twice at the age of fourteen, and then later married off to a poor black farmer. The man who Celie is sold to treats her as if she is a servant, not as his wife. Mr.___ believes that women are supposed to serve men, while they enjoy life. Mr.__’s other beliefs about women are that they should obey their husbands, work, and not be seen or heard (Averbach). Women in this time period were seen as children. They did not deserve to be respected and needed to be controlled by a man. Celie endures over thirty years of physical and mental abuse by her husband. Celie develops a strong relationship with many female characters in the novel such as Nettie, Shug Avery, and Sophia. They show Celie how to believe that joy can come even to her, how to celebrate life’s pleasures that are given by God, to stand up for herself, how to appreciate her own beauty, and help her to discover herself (Slomski). Although Celie has been victimized for over thirty years, she finds the strength within herself to become an independent woman through the help of other females.
Celie’s abuse first starts when her stepfather rapes and verbally abuses her “He never had a kine word to say to me. Just say You gonna do what your mammy wouldn’t…. He started to choke me saying You better shut up and git used to it. But I don’t ever get used to it. And now I feels sick every time I be the one to cook” (1). After Celie is raped by her stepfather, she is told “you better not never tell nobody but God. It’d kill your mammy” (1). Celie did exactly as she is told and becomes silent about her abuse, and only reveals her feelings through writing letters to God. By Celie writing her thoughts down she “makes possible discovery of her pain and victimization” (Byerman 61). Celie feels isolated and ashamed, she tells God about “her life of brutality and exploitation at the hands of men she has encountered” during her life (McDowell 143). Celie’s stepfather marries her off to a man who also beats her “He beat me like he beat the children. Cept he don’t never hardly beat them. He say Celie, git the belt...It all I can do not to cry. I make myself wood, I say to myself, Celie you a tree. That’s how come I know trees fear man” (22). Celie does not fight back against her husband when he beats or raises his voice at her. Celie has just learned to accept and ignore the way that he mistreats her. Celie believes that if she fights back it will not do anything but make matters worst. Celie survives her victimization, by recognizing that fighting back causes more problems instead of solving them (Harris).
Celie will take any abuse to her mind and body as long as she is allowed to stay alive (Harris): “I don’t say nothing. I think about Nettie, dead. She fight she run away. What good it do? I don’t fight, I stay where I’m told. But...

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