Ugliness And Beauty In Alice Walker's Color Purple

2572 words - 10 pages

Ugliness and Beauty in Walker's The Color Purple      

    When I finished The Color Purple, I cried. I was deeply touched by the story and all of the issues that it addressed. One interrelated theme that reiterates throughout the novel is that of ugliness and beauty. Celie represents ugliness, and Shug Avery illustrates beauty. The most prominent way that the struggle between ugliness and beauty presents itself in the novel is through Albert, Celie's forced husband, and Shug's long-time lover.

 

The characters of Celie and Shug are compared and contrasted throughout the novel, and the reason why Albert, for the majority of the novel, treats the two of them so differently is because of the way they look. Albert not only hates, but beats Celie because she is ugly and she is not Shug. "He beat me [Celie] when you not here, I say. Who do, she [Shug] say, Albert? Mr. _____, I say. . . . What he beat you for? she ast. For being me and not you" (79). Albert loves Shug because she is beautiful. In addition, Alice Walker "views Albert's love of Shug, in spite of her color and his father's protestations, as a sign of psychic health and, more specifically, a sign of self-love" (Winchell 98). However, this "self-love" that Albert supposedly possesses is only extended to Shug, not to Celie. This is because Shug is the epitome of society's patriarchal definition of a feminine woman. She has perfect flawless skin, hair that is never out of place, a voluptuous and sensuous (non-fat) body, and the fashionable clothes and accessories of a model. On first meeting Shug Celie describes, "and she dress to kill. She got on a red wool dress and chestful of black beads. A shiny black hat with what look like chickinhawk feathers curve down side of one cheek, and she carrying a little snakeskin bag, match her shoes" (47).

However, my first impression of Shug was not one of affection. Right away I could see that underneath all of that makeup and glamour, Shug was really like everyone else, except that she was experiencing a tremendous amount of hurt and pain. Celie observes this too. "Shug Avery was a woman. The most beautiful woman I ever saw. She more pretty than my mama. She bout ten times more prettier than me. I see her there in furs. Her face rouge. Her hair like somethin tail. She grinning with her foot up on somebody motocar. Her eyes serious tho. Sad some" (7). This description of a simple photograph of Shug reveals just how much Celie is taken in by her beauty. Celie already loves her even though she has not met her yet, and from then on she becomes excited even when she thinks about Shug.

Unfortunately, Celie's love for Shug is not the same reaction that Shug has towards her. In fact, it's exactly the opposite. For example, when she meets Celie for the first time she "look me over from head to foot. Then she cackle. Sound like a death rattle. You sure is ugly, she say, like she ain't believed it" (48). Celie, who has no real reaction to...

Find Another Essay On Ugliness and Beauty in Alice Walker's Color Purple

Alice Walker's The Color Purple Essay

2479 words - 10 pages Alice Walker’s acclaimed novel The Color Purple narrates the story of two sisters in the form of letters. Separated early on, Celie and Nettie live their lives continents apart, maintaining hope that one day they will be reunited. While Celie remains in the rural American South, Nettie becomes a missionary in Western Africa and spends most of her life with the Onilak tribe. Africa plays an integral role in The Color Purple because it shows that

Alice Walker's "The Color Purple" Essay

1156 words - 5 pages Few have taken the road of life without crossing a river of struggles. For most, life revolves around hardships and struggles. How one handles a struggle often defines a human being. A refusal to struggle is a refusal to live. Surrender and submission are the easy way out. Life requires something deep within the human heart to bring out the ability to fight. In The Color Purple, Alice Walker uses a weak, battered individual named Celie to

Alice Walker's The Color Purple: Celie's Struggles Expressed in Letters

538 words - 2 pages Alice Walker's The Color Purple: Celie's Struggles Expressed in Letters "Dear God, Gets me out of here. I needs to love and laugh. I needs to be free of this bastard and these white people." At a very young age, Celie begins writing letters to God. In her letters she explains her fears about her stepfather raping her, her mother and sister being beat, and her fears for her sister, Nettie. This epistolary novel (a novel in which the

Political Critique of Race Relations in Alice Walker's Color Purple

2238 words - 9 pages of the Happy Ending." Plotting Change. Ed. Linda Anderson. London: Edward Arnold, 1993. 85-96.   Sekora, John. "Is the Slave Narrative a Species of Autobiography?" Studies in Autobiography. Ed. James Olney. New York: Oxford UP, 1988. 99-111.   Shelton, Frank W. "Alienation and Integration in Alice Walker's The Color Purple." CLA Journal 28 (1985): 382-92.   Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty. "Explanation and Culture

Celie, Nettie, Mister in Alice Walker's The Color Purple

1557 words - 7 pages Eddy, Charmaine. "Marking the body: the material dislocation of gender in Alice Walker's The Color Purple." ARIEL 34.2-3 (2003): 37+. Literature Resources from Gale. Web. 14 Jan. 2014. Wall, Wendy. "Lettered Bodies and Corporeal Texts in The Color Purple." Studies in American Fiction 16.1 (Spring 1988): 83-97. Rpt. in Contemporary Literary Criticism. Ed. Janet Witalec. Vol. 167. Detroit: Gale, 2003. Literature Resources from Gale. Web. 14 Jan

Metamorphosis of Celie in Alice Walker's Color Purple

1102 words - 4 pages Metamorphosis of Celie in The Color Purple   In the book The Color Purple (1982) by Alice Walker, the main character Celie develops from an abused, shy and browbeaten teenage girl into a strong, mature and self-confident woman. This metamorphisis is due to five major factors: Celie observes other successful women, she receives love and appreciation, changes in Celie’s view of God, Celie’s maturation and a bit of luck. As Celie

Alice Walker's Color Purple - Historical and Political Insight

727 words - 3 pages The Color Purple : Historical and Political Insight Alice Walker’s writings were greatly influenced by the political and societal happenings around her during the 1960s and 1970s. She not only wrote about events that were taking place, she participated in them as well. Her devoted time and energy into society is very evident in her works. The Color Purple, one of Walker’s most prized novels, sends out a social message that concerns

Feminism is Alice Walker's The Color Purple

982 words - 4 pages Colour Purple Colour Purple (in the view of feminism) The Color Purple is an acclaimed 1982 epistolary novel by American author Alice Walker. It received the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award. It was later adapted into a film and musical of the same name. Taking place mostly in rural Georgia, the story focuses on female black life during the 1930s in the Southern United States

Racism and Men's Power Over Women in Alice Walker's "The Color Purple"

724 words - 3 pages The novel, The Color Purple by Alice Walker was set in the post “World War I American South and the story takes place in Georgia between 1910s and 1940" (BookRags, 2009). In this novel there were four main characters and the novel is based on a woman that is treated as a slave involving racism and unfair gender roles of women by man in society. The four main characters of “The Color Purple” novel are Celie, Nettie, Mr. Albert, and Shug Avery

"The Color Purple": Compare the conflict in Alice Walker's "The Color Purple" to a conflict in real life

496 words - 2 pages Over the summer, I read "The Color Purple" by Alice Walker. Set in the early to mid 1900s, the themes and conflicts of the story reflect important issues that have a high impact on our society today. The novel is laden with themes such as racism, homosexuality and rape, issues that are rarely addressed in current times. Celie, the protagonist, and other characters, suffer through trials during a time where inequalities and prejudices are

Alice Walker's Color Purple - Celie's Quest for Self-discovery

570 words - 2 pages Celie's Quest for Self-discovery    In Alice Walker's The Color Purple, Celie has many misconceptions of herself and her world.  Due to her upbringing of pain and mistreatment, and her ignorance of a better world, Celie's image of herself and her own potential is very different from reality.  The Color Purple, above all else, is the story of Celie's growth and self-discovery, which she achieves through her own commitment

Similar Essays

Celie's Transformation In Alice Walker's Color Purple

1087 words - 4 pages 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

Celie's Pain In Alice Walker's Color Purple

1495 words - 6 pages Celie's Pain in The Color Purple Molestation is a topic that is painful to think about, and even more difficult to write about. Yet Alice Walker chose this as the central theme of her novel The Color Purple. Walker's work centers around a poor African American girl Celie. Celie keeps a diary, and the first section of the novel is an excerpt from her diary. After reading the excerpt, the reader comes to realize that Celie is a fourteen-year

Life Struggles And Themes In Alice Walker's The Color Purple

2824 words - 11 pages named Zora Neale Hurston, who made a great influence on Walkers later life. Later in her life she edited one of her fiction called “ I love myself when I am laughing”(Janet Witalec). Further on in her career, she wrote“ The Color Purple” which was brought to audience in 1982, as she became a famous named author. She then, received an award called Pulitzer Prize and the movie by Steven Spielberg, which brought her both fame and

Alice Walker's The Color Purple Essay

2650 words - 11 pages Rape, incest, sex, forced labor, and a little reefer on the side. These are all of the components of a novel by Alice Walker. All of these views are illustrated proficiently in Alice Walker’s third novel, “The Color Purple.” Each one of these aspects had a lasting impression upon the ideals and notions of the time. Walker's writing's helped to break the racial barrier that existed in some people's minds. One way that the barrier was