The Color Purple Book Report Essay, Research Paper
1. The main character in The Color Purple is a young black Georgia girl named Celie. She is uneducated and uses a non-standard dialect when writing and speaking. She was born into a poor family. Her mother was ill much of the time, and there were too many children. She was raped by her father, who she later finds out is actually her step-father. She has very little self-worth and self-esteem. In the end she is able to triumph over the sexual and racial oppression that she has had to face.
2. One of the minor characters is Shug Avery. She is a blues singer who teaches Celie about love and self-esteem. At first she seems to be selfish and arrogant. She tries to avoid the truth about who she really is. She is uncompromisingly honest, in fact, her first words to Celie were, “You sure is ugly.” By nature she is manipulative and superficially popular. She’s a “free spirit.” She’s full of life on stage, and it appears that she lives a sweet life. The fact that she sings blues is due to the lonely isolation she feels.
Another minor character is Mr.—– or Albert. He is the moody, vicious man that Fonso chooses as Celie’s husband. He is quite an evil man, and surprisingly weak. His mistreatment of Celie is totally unnecessary, yet his adoration of Shug shows a soft side. Albert’s father did not raise him to be independent, but rather to serve his father’s own needs. As he grew older and had his father as a role model, he became self-centered and an irrational individual. Just like the other characters, Albert is reformed throughout the novel. He goes from being a detestable figure to an understanding, grandfatherly figure.
3. The setting is not actually told to the reader. It must be concluded from clues throughout the novel. It is however stated that it takes place in Georgia and Africa simutaneously, since Celie is in Georgia and Nettie is in Africa. There are large gaps between letters, sometimes as much as five years. The letters begin in a time when people ride around in wagons, and when the letters end, people are driving cars. From this it can be concluded that the time is near the beginning of the twentieth century.
4. The novel begins with Celie’s letter. She is writing to God and trusting him as she would trust a best friend for guidance and strength, despite the unhappiness she feels within herself and all those around her. She tells him that she is only fourteen, but already she does the cooking, cleaning, and caring for her siblings because of her mother’s poor health. She has also been raped by her father.
By the age of fifteen Celie has grown up considerably. She is pregnant for the second time. Her mother dies and leaves her to watch over the children. At this point she believes that Fonso, her father and the father of her children, has killed her other child. Fonso remarries and promises Celie to marry Mr.—–.
For years, Celie withstands Mr.—–, Albert’s, brutal violence. She is more a slave to her husband, than she is a wife. And then something unexpected happens. Her husband’s mistress, Shug, comes to the house to recuperate and Celie becomes her nurse. As Shug grows stronger physically, and as Celie nurses her, Shug encourages Celie to grow stronger psychologically. At the same time, Sofia, Celie’s daughter-in-law shows Celie how to stand up to men, prejuduce, and injustice, and to fight. It isn’t easy for Celie to act on these new concepts, but when she finds proof that Albert has hidden all of her sister’s letters from her, trying to make her think that Nettie was either dead or that she never wrote, Celie can’t take anymore. She fights back. She leaves him and goes to Memphis to find happiness with a woman who loves her.
All through the years, she has kept the memory of Nettie alive, despite the fact that that there was no proof Nettie was even alive. Nettie is not only alive, but she helped raise Celie’s two children.
When the novel ends, Celie has learned to love herself and others. She has endured much and has learned to fight. She has won her battles. In fact, not only has Celie won, but she has discovered a sense of joy that she never realized was possible.
5. One symbol from the book would have to be Olivia and Adam. They are Celie’s children by her father. Both of their lives originated from her being raped by her father. They both symbolize her pain and grief. They are reminders of the incest in which they were created from, and yet at the same time they symbolize a type of freedom or joy. Theey were brought into the world under bad circumstances, but they led happy lives. Things can change.
Another symbol is the road that runs through the Olinka village. Just as the slave traders arrived many years before and robbed Africa of its best people, the roadbuilders now rob the Africans of their homes and lands. The Olinka did not realize that the road was going to run through their village. They are symbolically blind to the progress that they cannot stop. They became friends with the roadbuilders who were their distant cousins, and much like the time when the blacks sold one another into slavery, they were betrayed.
6. A. You better not never tell nobody but God. It’d kill your mammy.
I am fourteen years old. I am I have always been a good girl. Maybe you can give me a sign letting me know what is happening to me.
Last spring after little Lucious come I heard them fussing. He was pulling on her arm. She say It too soon, Fonso, I ain’t well. Finally he leave her alone. A week go by, he pulling on her arm again. She say Naw, I ain’t gonna. Can’t you see I’m already half dead, an all of these children.
She went to visit her sister doctor over Macon. Left me to see after the others. He never had a kine word to say to me. Just say You gonna do what your mammy wouldn’t. First he put his thing up gainst my hip and sort of wiggle it around. Then he grab hold my titties. Then he push his thing inside my *censored*. When that hurt, I cry. He start to choke me, saying You better shut up and git used to it.
But I don’t never git used to it. And now I feels sick every time I be the one to cook. My mama she fuss at me an look at me. She happy, cause he good to her now. But too sick to last long.
This passage is the first passage, or letter in the book. It leaves the reader stunned because it is so powerful yet brief. It’s in such a matter-of-fact style. Talking to her friend God, Celie uses certain words without any embarrassment since they are the only words she knows for those terms. What is shocking is the fact that her father has raped her and threatened more violence if she tells anyone about it. The violence itself is shocking, not Celie’s language.
B. Dear God,
They have made three babies together but he squeamish bout giving her a bath. Maybe he figure he start thinking bout things he shouldn’t. But what bout me? First time I got the full sight of Shug Avery long black body with it black plum nipples, look like her mouth, I thought I had turned into a man.
What you staring at? she ast. Hateful. She weak as a kitten. But her mouth just pack with claws. You never seen a naked woman before?
No ma’am, I said. I never did. Cept for Sofia, and she so plump and ruddy and crazy she feel like my sister.
She say, Well take a good look. Even if I is just a bag of bones now. She have the nerve to put one hand on her naked hip and bat her eyes at me. Then she suck her teef and roll her eyes at the ceiling while I wash her.
I wash her body, it feel like I’m praying. My hands tremble and my breath short.
She say, You ever have any kids?
I say, Yes ma’am.
She say, How many and don’t you yes ma’am me, I ain’t that old.
In this passage Celie innocently looks at Shug, and she is excited by her naked body. At the same time she feels as though she is performing a sacred right when she is bathing Shug. This is shown when she admmits to God that she feels like she is praying.
C. Dear Celie, the first letter say,
You’ve got to fight and get away from Albert. He ain’t no good.
When I left you all’s house, walking, he followed me on his horse. When we was well out of sight of the house he caught up with me ans started trying to talk. You know how he do, You sure looing fine, Miss Nettie, and stuff like that. I tried to ignore him and walk faster, but my bundles was heavy and the sun was hot. After while I had to rest, and that’s when he got down from his horse and started to try to kiss me, and drag me back in the woods.
Well, I started to fight him, and with God’s help, I hurt him bad enough to make him let me alone. But he was some mad. He said because of what I’d done I’d never hear from you again, and you never hear from me.
I was so mad myself I was shaking.
Anyhow, I got a ride into town on somebody’s wagon. And that same somebody pointed me in the direction of the Reverend Mr.—–’s place. And what was my surprise when a little girl opened the door and she had your eyes set in your face.
This passage is the first letter that Celie recieves from her sister. She receives it well after it was written because just like he said he would, Albert never gave it to Celie. This is the first news she’s had of Nettie in years, and now she finally knows what had happened to her and why she hasn’t heard from her for so long.
D. Dear God,
That’s it, say Shug. Pack your stuff. You coming back to Tennessee with me.
But I feels daze.
My daddy lynch. My mama crazy. All my little half-brothers and sisters no kin to me. My children not my sister and brother. Pa not pa.
You must be sleep.
This passage is where Celie finds out the truth about many aspects of her life. She has been lied to on a number of occasions, and now things are finally being revealed. She learns that the man she has thought to be her father is acctually only her step-father; therefore, their children were not born out of incest.
7. The Color Purple is a story about growth, endurance, loyalty, and joy, all nurtured by the strength of love. There are many themes, some concern the relationship between males and females, the relationship between Africans and bkack Americans, and personal independence. Samuel and Nettie are perfect examples of the relationship between Africans and black Americans. They are good missionaries, but they don’t have a place where they belong. They neither belong to the world of the Europeans or the traditional world of their ancestors in Africa. They belong only to God and to one another.