Self-Awareness And Freedom In Alice Walker's The Color Purple

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Set against the patriarchal backdrop of the Deep South with its norm of male dominance, Alice Walker’s, The Colour Purple, maps the journey the novel’s protagonist, Celie, makes toward self-awareness and freedom. Walker’s epistolary structure highlights the importance of having opportunities to express ones thoughts and feelings in order to develop a sense of self and demonstrates how women have had their voices taken from them. Celie’s growth and the resulting parallel decline of male dominance are a central theme of the novel. Hall describes Nettie’s revelation that “Pa is not our pa” (150) as a “liberating power” (5), and a turning point in the novel. Celie’s letter to Nettie announcing the death of “the man us knowed as Pa” (Walker 206) …show more content…
. . what us gon sell?” (207). Celie’s exclamatory vocalisation of her fears is multi-layered. Celie addressed her first letters to God, a white haired, white man’s version who never really listened. Shug transforms Celie’s view of God and helps her realise that “God ain’t a he, or a she, but a It” (167), an It that exists in everything, is benevolent and does not regard their lesbian relationship as dirty. Smith describes Walker’s depiction of their relationship as a “disarming strategy of writing as if women falling in love with each other were quite ordinary” (74). Celie’s descriptions, “Shug roll over . . . nudging me with her foot” (Walker 207) reveal this ordinariness. There is a naturalness in their relationship that enables Celie to escape her emotionless state and to feel sexually, physically and emotionally viable. In contrast to the male victimisation Celie experienced, Shug’s loving relationship frees her from their control. The idea of her own place is daunting and Shug’s affirmation that “God know where you live” (208) enables Celie to overcome this. Like the quilts and needlework that thread the women’s lives together, the pants Shug suggests she sell are the “product of female consciousness and female economy” (Tucker 90). Celie’s pants enable her to break free from gender stereotypes; they signal her economic freedom and empower her claim on her own destiny. The anaphoric “Look at this . . . Look at that!” (208) acknowledges her restrained delight, her acceptance of the house and everything its acquisition means. Shug’s observation that “You doin’ all right Miss Celie” (208) has a double meaning, not only is Celie going to do well now she has somewhere Nettie can come home to, she will be alright in herself. That Celie signs her letter furthers this, her initial letters were unsigned and now she has a sense of worth she feels justified in doing

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