Celie's Journey To God In The Color Purple By Alice Walker

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“What kind of God are you?” this question echoes through the theatre as Celie sings a desperate plea to God in The Color Purple the revival of the 2006 musical that opened in New York December 10th, 2015. Directed by John Doyle with a book by Marsha Norman based on Alice Walker’s 1982 Pulitzer Prize winning novel by the same name, the musical takes the audience on a journey through Celie’s life as she attempts to answer this question for herself. The musical is a portrait of Celie’s life as an African-American woman coming into her own in rural Georgia during the first half of the 20th century as she navigates abuse, love, betrayal, loss of faith, and family. The musical follows the story of Celie’s life from the time she is a child into late …show more content…
The song begins with young Celie and her Sister Nettie playing a clapping game center stage and eventually morphs into a church service as a woman belts out the line “Its Sunday morning” (Russell et al. 2015) as the members of the congregation flood onto the stage. According to Elizabeth Johnson the way a community speaks about God “indicates what it considers the greatest good, the profoundest truth, the most appealing beauty.” (Johnson 134), and this number is in essence the community members of this church in rural Georgia speaking about God. The God they speak about and will continue to reference throughout the entire show is the God of the Christian faith, as inferred by the fact that this musical is set in the United States, a predominantly Christian country, and the biblical references made in this song to the story of Noah’s Ark, Daniel in the Lion’s den, and St. Peter. The image they paint of God in “Opening/Mysterious Ways” is of an omniscient, omnipresent God, who has a plan, should not be questioned and is worthy of praise. Sung in the call-and-response style of a gospel song, typical to what might be heard in a black-southern-Baptist church, the ensemble, representing the church community, repeat the phrase “the good Lord works/in mysterious ways” (Russell et al. 2015). This phrase …show more content…
In Celie’s world God is understood by her and the society she inhabits to be a man. According to Elizabeth Johnson in her article “Naming God She” in societies influenced by male-dominated religions “women and their concerns have consistently been marginalized” (Joshnson 135). The power of “naming God almost exclusively in the image and likeness of a powerful ruling man” has the effect of “legitimizing male authority in social and political structures” (Johnson 134). Celies understanding of God as a man causes her an obstruction in her faith, especially when one considers the role that men play in her life. From the time she was a child Celie was abused by men, she is raped by her stepfather (who at the time she believes to be her father), then beaten by her husband, all while suffering verbal abuse at the hands of both men. Yet Celie accepts and internalizes her abuse over time and eventually believes herself to be inferior. This treatment of women as inferior to men is normalized because the being that this society considers to be the most high is a man, as Mary Daly describes “if God is male, then male is God.” (Johnson 134). Celie is unable to trust a God who is a man because she has suffered so much at the hands of men, when describing why she doesn’t believe in god she says that “if he ever listened to poor colored women the world would be a different place” and that “God

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