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Revision booklet…read more

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CHARACTERS…read more

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Celie as a Victim
·as the book opens, Celie is purely a victim: she's repeatedly raped by her father, her children are taken away from
her, and she's sold into marriage to a man who wants a servant, not a wife. The only person she loves, and the only
person who loves her, is her sister Nettie. And then Nettie is also taken away from her.
·Celie's narrative actually begins as a result of her victimization; her father tells her she'd better not tell anyone that
he's raping her, at least not anyone aside from God. So Celie goes and confides in God about her struggles. For a
very long time, God is the only being she has to talk to, as she's either emotionally or physically isolated from most
of the other characters in the book.
·For much of the novel, Celie is completely passive. She encounters other women who tell Celie that she should
stand up for herself and fight, but Celie feels that it's better to survive than to fight and risk not surviving. However,
there are certain triggers that lead Celie to stand up. Celie proves herself to be willing to fight for the people she
loves. Even as a downtrodden victim of her Pa, Celie sacrifices herself and offers herself to her father so that he
keeps his hands off of Nettie. In a smaller way, Celie also fights for Shug. When Mr.__'s father comes and criticizes
Shug, Celie silently rebels by spitting in the man's water. If there's anything that gets Celie riled, it's people
mistreating her loved ones.
·Eventually, Celie leaves her victimhood behind. Though Mr.__ has been physically abusing Celie for years, she
doesn't find her own strength until she learns that he has been spitefully and intentionally separating her from
Nettie for decades. This emotional abuse is also an abuse of Nettie. Celie finally realizes that she can leave Mr.__
and does.
Celie She finds several kinds of freedom
·She abandons her false picture of
Celie and love
God as an old white man in favour for
·From years of mistreatment and isolation, Celie is emotionally numb for
the spirit that unites our inner life
a good portion of the novel. She's numb not only because she
with the universe,
desperately needs someone to love her, but because she needs someone
·She comes to see God in the mystery
to love. She's stuck in a bad marriage in which her husband considers her
of how nature is, for example in the
a servant unworthy of love, and her stepchildren are "rotten children."
color purple
Finally, someone shows up for Celie to care for: Shug Avery.
·With this neww creed comes her
·Shug is mean. Even Celie admits it, but Shug is someone to love. With
acceptance of sexual pleasure. `Folks
gentleness and care, Celie nurses the sick Shug Avery to health. Because
pants, Unlimited', her business
Celie is finally opening herself up by loving someone, Celie becomes
venture, makes her financially
more loveable. As Mr.__ and Celie realize in one discussion, when you
start to love other people, "people start to love you back."
·Well, Shug loves Celie back. Through Shug's love, Celie begins to realize
her own self-worth, which in turn increases her ability to love others. By
the end of the novel, Celie loves more people than ever before. When
Nettie finally comes home, Celie even introduces Albert (Mr.__) and
Shug as "her people," essentially her family of people she loves.…read more

Slide 4

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Shug is larger than life, and she sure does know how
·She is a free spirit
to love. Her problem is that she loves and keeps on
·Celie think her too `evil' to submit
loving, even when she adds other people to the mix.
to illness for long. She is too
She has a weakness for people, and she keeps people
restless to stay long at home with
in her life, no matter what.
anyone ­ to the regret of Celie and
Shug is the person who lifts Celie up and gives her the
·She had a good opinionated mind,
will to leave behind a life of victimhood and become a
and seems to have thought out her
new woman. But ultimately, Shug can't (or won't)
own unorthodox views.
commit to a romantic relationship with just one
·She is free of the fear of God,
person. She needs to be admired. When a 19-year-old
although she checks Celie's
admires her, despite the fact that she's thirty (or so)
blasphemous take .
years than he is, she can't help but take off with him.
·Some of her religious notion sure
Shug will never stay in one place or with one person,
vague, but she is quite sure god is
but she'll keep returning because she never discards
not male.
the people she loves. Although Shug is the person that
·It could be said that she is serious
gives Celie the gumption to change and to leave Albert,
about God but not about the
ultimately Shug's inability to stay with one person
solemn religious term devised by
means that Celie has to find reasons within herself to
maintain independence, and not depend on a fickle
lover like Shug
Shug Avery
·She can be sweet and then mean `Her mouth
just pack with claws'.
·She succeeds as a singer, and so gets rich, ·Shug is at home everywhere because of
because she can dominate an audience, and she her profession
dominates her lovers too.
·She loves Albert because he is so ;funny' and
`little', and because he could make her laugh in
the old days, but she had never wanted to marry
him ­ only to make sure he prefers her to all
other women.…read more

Slide 5

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Mr.__ (or Albert as he is occasionally called) may be a jerk for most of the book, but at least he
changes. Mr.__ is one of the only male characters in this novel capable of reflection and personal
growth. By the end of the book, he and Celie are actually pretty good friends.
The impetus for his growth is Celie leaving him. When Celie joins Shug in Memphis, he has to face the
facts: his wife left him for his lover, and his lover chose his wife over him. He's a failure. But instead
of doing what we expect ­ that is, become even meaner ­ Mr.__ realizes that "meanness is killing"
him. He tries to make up for the wrongs he has committed against Celie, namely giving her all of
Nettie's letters that he had been hiding. Doing the right thing transforms Mr.__ into the kind of
person Celie actually wants to be around.
Interestingly, part of Mr.__'s transformation involves taking on characteristics that are classically
seen as "feminine." Sexist for the majority of the book, Mr.__ saw women as stupid, in need of
beatings and constant direction from men, and useful only as sexual objects and laborers. Mr.__ also
taught these values to his son, Harpo, sneering at his son for not beating Sofia and asserting his
dominance. However, as Mr.__ becomes nicer, he finds interest in traditionally feminine activities. As
it turns out, Mr.__ enjoys cooking. He keeps a clean house after Celie leaves. In fact, he even enjoys
sitting on the porch and sewing with Celie.
Many people have criticized Alice Walker, claiming that she represents all males in an extremely
negative light. However, if you want to make that claim, you have to contend with Mr.__/Albert. He
clearly develops into a really decent guy.
Albert/ Mr-
·Like alphonso, and, it is implied, all men in
this community, he lacks any respect for
women. He looks on his second marriage as
the acquisition of two pieces of property,
Celie and a cow, the latter being the greater
·H is fundamentally weak; he beats Celie
because `she isn't shug' and suffers a
nervous breakdown when Celie leaves him…read more

Slide 6

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Sofia is the assertive woman that Celie is not. She won't back down from a fight and if anybody picks on her, she
beats them twice as hard as they give it to her. Celie admires this quality, but often times it just causes Sofia
trouble. Her assertive nature tends to rub white people the wrong way.
In addition to her assertiveness, Sofia is also extremely honesty and willing to act on her emotions. When she
struggles, she says so. When somebody hurts her, she says so. When she's mad, she acts on it. This is also, of
course, what gets her in trouble. Celie never emulates Sofia, but Sofia serves as a visible reminder that Celie doesn'
t have to take everything lying down, she can learn to stand up and fight.
·She is strong minded,
instinctively rejecting all the
traditional ideas about a woman's
role. She rakes naturally to
`manly' activities, including heavy
outdoor work.
·If only Harpo would forget about ·She contrast Celie. A brutal upbringing has
trying to rule her, it seems they made her a fighter. She has had to fight off her
might be well-matched in a father, brother , cousins and husband "a girl child
marriage free from conventional ain't safe in a family of me".
roles, because he like cooking and ·The policy compel her to submit to beatings and
caring for children. to the prison regime for the first three years of
·She sometimes plays a comic her twelve-year sentence, and then to the
role, but suffers a tragic fate. That humiliating condition of a prisoner-maid, a kind
she survives her sufferings and of slavery, in the mayor's household. In spite of
imprisonment, and end the novel all this ill-treatment, she remains a formidable
as a dignified and courageous women when released.
women, is a symbol of the
triumph of good over evil.…read more

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