The Color Purple 2 Essay, Research Paper
The Color Purple By Alice Walker And Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger
Alice Walker and J.D Salinger demonstrate how faith helps their main characters to discover their true potential. Both authors use their novels to show the readers how faith, religion, and human interventions can promote a positive and meditative change within a person. In Alice Walker’s novel “The Color Purple”, protagonist, Celie, relies upon her faith in God and her sister to give her strength in times of hardship. This faith is later transferred to a blues singer named Shug Avery, who teaches Celie about the true meaning of life and of being free. J.D Salinger’s character Franny, from “Franny and Zooey” becomes morose after reading the novel The Way of A Pilgrim because she realizes that she is no better than the people around her. Her brother Zooey convinces her that her problem is not really a problem at all. He tells her that she needs to face the fact that, even though she is like everyone else, she still has a divine spark inside of her, as do all others. He tells her that she needs to respect that. Both Celie and Franny have people in their lives that help them overcome their hardships. These two women experience extraordinary transformations discovering the true meanings of life, religion, faith, and the love and kindness of others. At the beginning of the novel “The Color Purple”, Celie is a weak and submissive African-American woman who relies on her faith in God to give her the strength to protect those she loves. This faith in God causes her to write to him describing the misery that she is in because of her situation, “Dear God, He start to choke me, saying, You better shut up and git used to it” (Walker 2). Celie relies upon her knowledge that He is there to keep the misery from crushing her completely. “The only person who has knowledge of her circumstance is her abusive father, and with no one to help her, she feels isolated and powerless”(Untitled-pg12). Celie uses God as a means to escape her predicament. He becomes the centre of her universe until her sister Nettie leaves. When Nettie is taken away from Celie, she feels that even God has turned His back on her, “[She] don’t write to God no more, [she] write to [Nettie]” (Walker 199). She feels that God does not care about a lowly black woman like herself. Due to this loss of faith in God, Nettie becomes Celie’s constant source of hope and spiritual guidance.
Nettie, is Celie’s only constant friend. Even though she is absent for most of the story, she offers something that no one else does; a sense of support. Celie suffers many incidents of incest, mental and physical abuse at the hands of her father. Nettie is spared the atrocities of abuse because of Celie’s self-sacrifice to marry a man like her father. This enables Celie to shield Nettie from the gruesomeness of abuse. From her previous home to her new home the horror follows her, Mr.____’s eyes start to wander, and when the affection isn’t returned, Nettie is sent away, “Well, us done help Nettie all we can. Now she got to go. Where she gon go? [Celie] ast. I don t care, he say” (Walker 18). Celie, unable to keep faith in God, gives up all hope on Him and puts faith in her sister instead. Both Nettie and God are two figures who are unable to help Celie in times of need, Nettie because she is in Africa, and God because Celie feels he does not care for her,” the God [Celie] been praying and writing to is a man. And act just like all the other mens [she] know. Trifling, forgitful, and lowdown.” (Walker 199), They are individuals who Celie speaks to, they give her the courage and hope she needs to continue. Until Celie meets Shug Avery, who teaches Celie what life and life with freedom can really be like if it is something that is truly and wholeheartedly desired.
Shug Avery is probably one of the key characters in the novel “The Color Purple” , she helps Celie find out who she really is. Shug shows Celie that “she has her own unique beauty and spirit” (Untitled-pg3). When Celie first meets Shug Avery, her first impression is to love her because she is terribly sick and all she can think of saying is “come on in, [she] want to cry. To shout. Come on in. With God help, Celie going to make you well” (Walker 47). Shug first sees Celie as nothing but an ugly woman, “[Celie] sure is ugly, [Shug] say, like she ain’t believed it.” (Walker 48), who, if she tried, would not amount to much. Yet when Celie takes care of her and shows her the unconditional love that she already has for Shug, she begins to respect Celie. “[Shug] never questions if it is right or wrong to love a person, be it male or female, young or old. Shug simply loves people who need loving” (Untitled-pg8). “Nobody ever love me, I say. She say, I love you Miss Celie”(Walker 117-118). Shug helps Celie become confident and strong; she shows her how to live, and how to be free.
J.D Salinger’s protagonist Franny, grows up in a world where philosophy and religious ideas are as common as everyday thoughts, and that “all legitimate religious study must lead to unlearning the differences, the illusory differences between boys and girls “(Salinger 67-68). While attending university, she begins to read The Way of the Pilgrim, which makes her realize that she is no better than the people around her, “It got worse and worse. [She] even started picking on [her] roommate”(Salinger 145). Franny becomes disgusted with the duplicity of the people she interacts with. She can not reason out why people are so concerned with gaining knowledge without wisdom, “Knowledge should lead to wisdom, and that if it doesn’t, it’s just a disgusting waste of time You hardly ever even hear the word wisdom mentioned!”(Salinger 146-147) Zooey is disgusted with his sister’s attitude towards the general populace, “what I don t like at all is this snotty little crusade you think you’re leading against everybody I hate the kind of blanket attack you’re making on it” (Salinger161). He goads Franny into realizing that everyone has a divine spark and as long as she respects that, he does not care what she does.
177-Zooey takes Franny’s decisions personally. He feels that she does not respect others because she cannot see the inner spark that others possess, ” what I don t like is the way you talk about all these people. I mean you don t just despise what they represent–you despise them. It’s too damn personal” (Salinger 162). Zooey points out multiple times that Franny takes things too much at heart, he also points out that this is a fault that he also possesses “[he] does the exact same thing [she] does, and [he's] old enough to know better”(Salinger 163). He then points out that, like at the age of ten, she did not know the true meaning of who Jesus is, “I don t think you understood Jesus when you were a child and I don t think you understand him now. I think you’ve got him confused in your mind with about five or ten other religious personages, and I don t see how you can go ahead with the Jesus Prayer till you know who’s who and what’s what” (Salinger 164).
Alice Walker and J.D. Salinger both show the effects of religion, faith, and human intervention in their novels. All three promote a growth within a person, either physically or mentally. Faith and human intervention help a person achieve their full potential. A faith in the supernatural produces inner strength, hope and guidance, but for some it produces anger, resentment and sorrow. Human intervention is also a guiding light for people, in Celie’s case, Shug’s intervention prompts her to strive for freedom, for Franny, Zooey’s intervention, shows her the error of her thinking. Both author’s point out that everyone has in inner divine spark, and that it sometimes takes a little help and effort to realize that it is there within a human being.