The book called The Color Purple shows many of the topics discussed in class, but for the purpose of this paper I would like to discuss three aspects that are the most concerning and disturbing. The concept of the body, reproduction, and violence shown through the novel are the most prominent and key concerns seen in this literature selection that I would like to analyze in this expository essay.
Beginning with the concept of the body, The Color Purple portrays a very graphic portrayal from the first pages. “She ugly” (Walker, 9). This gives the feel that the men have high standards of the women that are seen in this story of Black Southern Women. This also can be seen when Celie (the main character) holds on to a picture of Shug Avery (the woman she lets her husband have an affair with) because she is so beautiful. These are ideals seen in our culture as a whole. Women holding onto pictures of women in magazines and posters lead to the idea that the airbrushed picture is attainable and that is what the women of the world need to look like. The forerunner of this is visualized when this is what the men look at in their magazines. The view that men have of women is one of this sexual being waiting to be had. Celie holding onto this picture is the same as a woman today buying a magazine that appeals to her inferior parts. “I’m not as pretty or as smart”(10) is played on throughout the book as well as in our culture. Women of the world today need to be attractive to be someone, or so it seems. The same way Celie is a barefoot and pregnant housewife living her fantasy of a singer that is attractive. The epitome of the quotes that shows the sexuality associated with a women’s body is “right down there in your *censored* is a little button that gits real hot when you do you know what with somebody” (81). This allows the feeling of vulgarity in someone’s mind today, because talk of this sort is discounted. Through this following quote it continues with other vulgarities that society does not accept “I kiss her back…Then us touch each other” (118). Mainly, because female sexuality as a whole is discounted and seen as a negative portrayal of our home lives. And your home life makes you what you are in a public eye. So lesbian acts are deemed unmentionable as well. This is what the body is portrayed like in our society for a women, you can look, just don’t touch it.
Reproduction is the second factor that is a touchy concept in today’s world as well as in the novel. “…But the thought of anybody gitting pregnant make me want to cry” (261) is a choice that shows how women in the novel perceive their lives as mothers. That’s all they have going for them. The women stay home and care for children while the men provide. This is republican motherhood all over again. This just is not acceptable in the modern world, but it happens through fear and trough violence (discussed in the latter part of this paper). “What is it like? He git up on you, heist your nightgown round your waist, plunge in. Most times I pretend I ain’t there. He never know the difference” (Walker). This also allows for a chance to see again how women are used not just for their bodies, but the assumption is made that he is always on her to help promote his genes in the race, since he has two children and she has another. Just do your business and leave that happens to be a big stereotype of men in our culture today. Men date women to get what they want and then leave. Bang and Bail as my male friends like to classify it. It is a main stream idea to have men be sexually promiscuous and women be sexually passive. Give the man what he wants and do not bother him the rest of the time. These are all cliches that have probably been shared as jokes, but have now become part of our major understanding of the world as we know it. The Color Purple as well as these main stream ideas leave no morals for the families any longer. Besides a woman is pregnant with a man’s child, but he wants someone else because his genes are being passed on, why stay with a soiled woman. Again reproduction is tied to sexuality that leads to the body, but it can also lead to violence as often seen in the novel.
The violence aspect is done in a variety of ways, all in which I would like to address. The first is in rape itself. The book opens with this image, which just eludes you to the rest of the book when it states plainly “ …he grab hold of my titties. Then he push his thing inside my *censored*. When that hurt I cry…You better shut up and git used to it” (1-2). Compelling and appalling is the first act of this play. This is a scene where there is violence against women. This is probably why she lies there and takes sex; it is what a man can have when he wants it. Why get choked or beat for resisting, just give in and survive. This goes along with the modern world where women are raped by someone they know. Celie being raped is by her stepfather in the opening as are many girls growing up in a broken home. Another form of violence is blatant hitting. The men tend to hit the women. It is sad when a woman is afraid of her own children. The novel gives hints at this with “…oldest boy. He twelve…He pick up a rock and laid my head open. The blood…” (13). Violence by men against women is also seen when a woman can not defend herself against her abuser “I don’t know how to fight” (18). This is seen time and time again, because women play with dolls while guys go out and fight, play football, and wrestle. The social norms are skewed in favor towards men when it comes to violence because we are told it is okay for boys to hit, and women turn the other cheek. The reason for beating in this is because Celie is the wife. The wife is the one to get beat, and can not leave. Why? Because more danger is asserted and then more beatings follow. Just take the beatings and role with the punches is what the feel comes out of pop culture, because you do something about the beatings, and the women is imprisoned. The last form of violence is the emotional kind. Through all the prior mentioned information you can see how some is emotionally torn up and is so due to her husband/male figures in her life. It makes a woman feel in general that all men are scum as noticeable with the quote “And act just like all other mens I know. Trifling, forgitful and lowdown” (199). This can be through a series of physical abuses, from multiple men, giving a negative take on life. As a society nowadays this also has validity. Men are jerks, arrogant, sex fiends. These are ideals that come about when the same abuses come from multiple men portraying the same qualities.
In conclusion the paper that is presented compares the trials and tribualtions of one woman to a whole male dominated society. She is raped, beaten, abused, neglected etc… just to be told to shut up and take it. This is what happens in our culture as well. Alice Walker’s portrayal of a women is not far from the reality of the modern world. The Color Purple has an awesome plot that follows a women’s delimas and choices through a life that is doomed from her youth, to have a portrayal of survival by going with the flow.