The Power of Women in "The Color Purple"
A discussion on the strength and importance of female-female relationship to overcome the suppression of women by men in "The Color Purple" by Alice Walker.
# 118379 | 3,476 words | 8 sources | MLA | 2009 |
Published on Jan 27, 2010 in Literature (American) , English (Analysis) , African-American Studies (General)
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This paper discusses how in "The Color Purple", Walker follows one woman's journey to become a womanist. The novel dictates the letters written by a poor black woman, Celie, living in rural Georgia in the early 1900s. The paper looks at how, abused and belittled by her father and husband, Celie does not have an identity of her own. Instead, Celie behaves according to the stereotypical gender roles of the time and how the latter men define her. Although many readers assume Celie transforms simply as she ages, it is not until Celie befriends other women, that she begins to find her own voice. In particular, the paper looks at how Celie's relationships with her daughter-in-law, Sofia, and her lover, Shug Avery, allow her to develop her own identity and resist the passivity and self-doubt caused by the male subordination of women.
From the Paper:"One can better understand Celie's behavior throughout the novel when it is examined according to B.F. Skinner's operant behavior philosophy. Skinner argues that, "behavior is affected by its consequences," and, thus, that, "the punished person henceforth acts in ways which reduce the threat of punishment and which are incompatible with, and hence take the place of, the behavior punished"(1). Celie learned from infancy that by defying a man, she would be beaten or possibly killed. Therefore, in order to survive, Celie assumes she must be submissive to all men. After Albert's sister tells Celie that she should stand up for herself, Celie says, "I think bout Nettie, dead. She fight, she run away. What good it do? I don't fight, I stay where I'm told. But I'm alive"(Walker Color Purple 21). Celie sees how her sister's rebellion seems to have caused her death, and, thus remains passive in order to survive. Skinner's analysis of human behavior not only explains Celie's submission, but also her eventually triumph over her oppressors. "
Sample of Sources Used:
- Barker, Ellen E. "Creating Generations: The Relationship Between Celie and Shug in Alice Walker's The Color Purple." Critical Essays on Alice Walker. Ed. Ikenna Dieke. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Publishing Group, 1999. 55-65.
- Christophe, Marc-A. "The Color Purple: An Existential Novel." Critical Essays on AliceWalker. Ed. Ikenna Dieke. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Publishing Group, 1999. 101-107.
- de Cleyre, Voltairine. "Sex Slavery". Selected Works of Voltairine de Cleyre. Ed. Alex Berkman. MT: Kessinger Publishers, 2007.
- Elsley, Judy. "'Nothing can be sole or whole that has not been rent': Fragmentation inthe Quilt and The Color Purple." Critical Essays on Alice Walker. Ed. Ikenna Dieke. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Publishing Group, 1999. 163-170.
- Locke, John. "An Essay Concerning Human Understanding." The English Philosophers from Bacon to Mill. Ed. Edwin A. Burtt. New York: Random Hose, 1939
Cite this Book Review:
The Power of Women in "The Color Purple" (2010, January 27) Retrieved August 25, 2019, from https://www.academon.com/book-review/the-power-of-women-in-the-color-purple-118379/
"The Power of Women in "The Color Purple"" 27 January 2010. Web. 25 August. 2019. <https://www.academon.com/book-review/the-power-of-women-in-the-color-purple-118379/>