Relationship Between Celie And Shugs English Literature Essay
Walker uses the epistolary style in this book. Permitting her main character to voice her personal feelings to the pain and outcast she suffers. Allowing the reader to watch as Celie grows from being an uneducated girl to a mature woman. Walker also sets most of her novel in a rural farm community, focussing on the personal lives of her characters.
There are many themes throughout The Color Purple which are important to look at because these create the person Celie becomes before Shug helps her to evolve. It is set in the early twentieth century, around the 1930’s, in a time when racism, oppression and sexism was at a peak. Racism was disregarded throughout the country and the laws in the South implemented segregation. Most black Americans remained alienated and were stereotypically looked down upon by members of white society. Women were also inferior to men, both black and white. Black women were then especially disadvantaged. Celie endured many difficulties reflective of this time and she suffered highly, but the novel shows us that Celie remained strong and defeated many obstacles to show the strength of a woman.
Celie has suffered psychological damage through verbal abuse, physical abuse and sexual violence all her life. This caused Celie to view herself as worthless, powerless and incorporate the animosity. She suffered this life with her father, who we later come to recognise is her step father, and also with Mr____. Early on in the book Celie is sexually abused by her father and bears two children to him, which he takes away from Celie. This is where we learn why Celie writes her letters to God. Her father tells her ‘You better not never tell nobody but God’ (Walker, 1992, 3) and she continues throughout the novel to talk to God writing as she speaks, in a colloquial manner, from which we learn Celie’s story. She also does not sign her letters which indicates her lack in showing her identity. Celie is treated as though she is property to men and as though she has no identity of her own as she is handed to Mr____ from her Pa. She is made to feel unattractive and unintelligent by her Pa. ‘She ugly. But she ain’t no stranger to hard work… You can do everything just like you want to and she ain’t gunna make you feed it or clothe it’. (P3) ‘… She ain’t smart either … But she can work like a man’ (P3) He also gives Celie’s cow away with her to improve the deal with Mr____. Celie therefore decides the only way she can survive is if she makes herself almost invisible. It is clear that Celie does not enjoy her life and she waits only for Heaven. ‘…This life be over soon. Heaven lasts always.’ (p40)
Themes of the power of strong female relationships or also known as sisterhood are based in this novel and help Celie to discover who she truly is through the love and support she gains from women like Sophia, Nettie and Shug. These are women that would be Celie’s role model of black women. They defend themselves against men and do not allow men to choose their lifestyle for them.
When Celie sees a photograph of Shug Avery she thinks she looks very glamorous and instantly begins to take a liking to her as she dreams of Shug that night.. When Celie is first introduced to Shug in person we get the feeling that Shug is a very cruel individual when she turns to Celie and says ‘You sure is ugly’ (P44). Shug’s critical manner of speaking and life experiences she has had, give the impression that she is quite cynical. Shug is actually a warm and caring person. This becomes clear when she falls ill and Celie takes care of her. Shug clearly enjoys the care and attention she is getting and returns the same care to Celie, showing her compassionate nature.
Both Shug and Celie help each other find who they really are and bring out the best in each other. Shug helps Celie to find a new outlook on life, with a role model like Shug, Celie begins to grow stronger and find who she truly is, how to love and what it means. Shug is regarded as a metaphorical missionary in Celie’s life, like the missionaries in the Olinka. Shug inspires Celie to create her own business, helping her to find a new passage in her life for her passion and creativity, giving her more personal and financial freedom.