The Color Purple was a book by Alice Walker in 1982. The story features several themes and teaches lessons. The central character is Celie, a young black girl from a low-income family who grew up in Rural Georgia, United States. It was written as Celie’s narration, her letters to God detailing her experience since she could not tell anyone the truth about her life for a long time.
In the following paragraphs, we will discuss all the major themes in The Color Purple and all the lessons to be learned.
Sexism is the discrimination or devaluation of a person based on their gender. In The Color Purple, this is a major trope, as we see this play in almost all relationships between genders in the book. When we look at the heroine, Celie, we see how she was dominated and oppressed for the majority of her book by the males in her life.
It first started in her relationship with her stepfather, Alphonso. He raped and sexually assaulted her for a long time through her teenage years, long enough for her to bear him two children, Adam and Olivia. We also see this sexism come into play when he takes the children from her without any plausible explanation. What does he want to do with them, leaving Celie to think they are dead?
We also see this trope come to play in the relationship between Harpo and Sofia. Harpo beats and oppresses Sofia. His father taught him that women were the lesser gender and that their rebellion made him less of a man.
This is another main idea of the book, The Color Purple, although most of the transformation occurs in the latter part of the plot. Due to the help of Shug and other strong female characters with whom Celie we see her slowly transforms. She turns from a shy, passive and oppressed girl into a strong, independent, and assertive woman.
When Celie is sold to Albert, whom she always referred to as Mister, the vicious cycle of violence and sexual assault continues. Celie went from being raped and beaten by her father to another terrifying sexual relationship with Albert. When writing an essay on The Color Purple, it is important to note how long-standing conflicts are resolved. Readers can see how character transformation occurs. You can read all the other amazing essays on Papersowl if you need interesting essay ideas to help you encompass the scope of this literature.
We see that Celie can forgive Albert in the end, probably reunited by their shared love for Shug Avery and the heartbreak it led them to. However, Celie employs him in her clothing factory, and they live together as friends.
God and Spirituality
In the opening part, Alphonso threatens Celie not to disclose any snippet of their relationship to anybody but God. He says it will kill her mother. In his words, “better not never tell nobody but God. It’d kill your mammy.”
This is one of the reasons Celie addressed most of her letters to God, as we often see her start each one with “Dear God.” As the plot of this literature unfolds, we see Celie’s view of God change. At first, she envisions God as an old white man with a long white beard who oversees everything and everyone. She writes to him as a means of an escape from the hellish reality that was her life. Later, when she meets Shug Avery, her outlook on God changes.
Readers will also notice that this change in her spiritual perspective ushered in her independence. She began to see life for what it indeed was. All this was influenced by Shug, who believes God is not a “He” but an “It” who just wants people to make personal decisions that lead to their happiness.
Celie’s sister, Nettie, is also very religious. We see this when she follows Samuel and Corrine to Africa on an evangelical mission. They wanted to convert the leaf-worshiping people of Olinka to Christianity. Later in the book, her perspective of God and religion changed, leading her to see God as a more prevalent creature.
Gender Inequality and Injustice
Students are tasked with writing The Color Purple essays as academic assignments. One of the major ideas written about is women-centered violence in the literature. You can read essays on The Color Purple on SupremeStudy.com, which is a popular academic platform. There, you can read essays explaining the injustice and inequality in the relationships throughout the story.
The men depicted in this literature saw women as beings beneath them. But we see that it is due to years of racism and teachings. For instance, when Harpo began to beat his wife, he finally confessed that it was because his father had taught him that beating his wife would earn him respect. His father said a woman only rebelled when she didn’t respect a man.
This was another main idea of the book, The Color Purple. Many female characters found strength in each other and through their roles in each other’s lives. One major example of this can be found in Celie, the main protagonist.
After being oppressed and sexualized by all the men in her life, she found solace first in Shug Avery, her husband’s lover. Shug encouraged her to be independent. Sofia taught her to always stand up for herself, and Nettie helped change her view on God and life.
The Color Purple teaches a great lesson and tells a great story, whose themes and ideas are resounding and remain relevant decades later. It won Alice Walker the Pulitzer in 1983 and the National Award for Fiction that same year.
For a more in-depth analysis of this literature, several essays can be found online for free on academic platforms. For example, it can be SupremeStudy. There you can learn more about this powerful book.