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Literary Analysis: The Color Purple

1468 words - 6 pages

There are numerous works of literature that recount a story- a story from which inspiration flourishes, providing a source of liberating motivation to its audience, or a story that simply aspires to touch the hearts and souls of all of those who read it. One of the most prevalent themes in historical types of these kinds of literature is racism. In America specifically, African Americans endured racism heavily, especially in the South, and did not gain equal rights until the 1960s. In her renowned book The Color Purple, Alice Walker narrates the journey of an African American woman, Celie Johnson (Harris), who experiences racism, sexism, and enduring hardships throughout the course of her life; nonetheless, through the help of friends and family, she is able to overcome her obstacles and grow into a stronger, more self-assured individual. While there are numerous themes transpiring throughout the course of the novel, the symbolism is one of the strongest prospects for instigating the plot. In The Color Purple by Alice Walker, numerous symbols influence and drive the plot of the novel.
One of the most important symbols that Walker incorporates into the plot is the letters written by Celie to either God or Nettie, signifying the power of voice. The epistolary format of the novel itself enables readers to understand Celie, whose letters are initially addressed to God. After being raped by her stepfather at the age of fourteen, he tells her to “never tell nobody but God” (Walker 1); thus, Celie’s original letters are presented more as confessions and prayers. This first letter itself “initiates the story of Celie's unrelenting victimization” (Bloom, and Williams 77-88), and the audience notices that the way in which Celie narrates the events occurring in her life over due course of the next several letters lack sentiment and opinion. According to Harold Bloom, “For Celie, the practice of addressing God simply reaffirms her solitude; she is essentially writing to herself” (Bloom, and Williams 77-88). This submissive practice nonetheless carries over onto her daily life, and ensues until her relationship with Shug Avery strengthens. After Celie begins to experience a spiritual, emotional, and sexual awakening as a result of this bond, her letters reflect her newfound emotional capacity. Bloom enforces this ideal, claiming, “Shug is the route through which Nettie's letters are restored” (Bloom, and Williams 77-88). With the figurative resurrection of her sister through Shug’s support, Celie’s power of voice grows. She begins to think for herself and express her thoughts more vividly, claiming, "My life stop when I left home, I think. But then I think again. It stop with Mr._______ maybe, but start up again with Shug" (Walker 85). The audience, who was Celie’s only recluse for thought, views her becoming more verbal and opinionated in reality as well; for instance, during her final standoff with Mr._______, she exclaims, "You a lowdown dog is what's...

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