The Color Purple Gender Roles Essay

The Color Purple is a novel that discusses the different cultural and social aspects of living as a woman in the early 1900’s. The setting takes place in rural Georgia and shows how double standards for gender roles can negatively affect people, especially women. The main character is Celie, a young girl who has to learn to realize what life should be like for herself and what is important to her as a person. The novel revolves around the development of Celie’s life and how other characters shape it to be what she wants.

The main theme of The Color Purple centers on how to obtain happiness and the different ways that people obtain this goal. The theme is apparent because there are many character examples throughout the book who try to obtain their own personal happiness and achieve it in different ways. The story demonstrates that gender roles greatly affect women, especially African American women, because they must work harder than men to receive equal treatment or respect for their labor.

The story also shows how cruel society can be towards dark skinned black women because of these roles associated with race, gender, and class (Walker). Alice Walker wrote The Color Purple to demonstrate the harsh reality of life as a young black woman who is also a victim of sexual and physical abuse. The novel takes place in rural Georgia and conveys many themes throughout the book such as race, gender roles, and class (Roth). The main character is an African American girl named Celie. She begins her story with nothing and gradually goes through certain events that lead up to more opportunities for herself.

The protagonist has little education, does not know what love is like, has always been mistreated by men, has never received any affection from another person, struggles with communication problems because she cannot read or write very well, had two children that were taken away from her at birth, works incredibly hard every day and late into the night, and has gone through sexual abuse at multiple points in her life (Walker). The story unveils these events throughout the novel and focuses on them because The Color Purple deals with social issues such as sexism, racism, and other forms of discrimination (Roth).

The main idea for this novel came from Alice Walker’s own experiences. Many of her ideas come from autobiographical elements that she weaves into Celie’s narrative (Hietter 592). Alice Walker uses male characters to represent different parts of society: 1) the horrible aspect: men who rape and physically hurt women; 2) the system: men who want to destroy black people; 3) the powerful figure: men who have money, power or both and control the decisions that happen in African American communities; and 4) non-dominant male: men who question sexist culture and understand its effects (Walker).

The novel shows how the main character changes over time through self-discovery, self-love, and self-respect. The story takes place during a span of approximately forty years (Hietter 588). The protagonist’s journey has many different obstacles to overcome such as racism, sexism, internalized misogyny, violence towards women, poverty, domestic violence among various other social issues. The Color Purple is also about sisterhood and how it can affect black women positively or negatively depending on where they are in their lives (Slaughter 288).

The lessons Celie learns along the way show her what her life should be like and what is important to her. The protagonist tries throughout the entire book to become more self-sufficient and discover who she really is (Walker). The novel has many themes that convey this message such as, finding happiness and love and how hard it can be for some people which Celie learns in the end after all of the hardship she has been through. The story shows just how difficult it can be to obtain happiness when one does not have a sense of self worth or security because society places these ideas on women (Alice Walker).

The central theme focuses on how to obtain happiness and the different ways that people try to find this goal for themselves (Walker). The Color Purple displays four different examples throughout the book who attempt to attain their own version of happiness through various methods (Walker). The main character, Celie, demonstrates that one may find love after they fall in love with themselves and learn to be comfortable with their own flaws. The story takes place from the perspective of a black woman living in rural Georgia during Jim Crow Laws.

The protagonist is an African American woman who lives a very difficult life which she talks about throughout The Color Purple (Slaughter 293). Alice Walker uses her own experiences to convey messages about racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination within the novel The Color Purple because it focuses on a young girl named Celie who has been mistreated by men for most of her life(Hietter 589). The author has stated that this book came from her own life and that The Color Purple is in a way her autobiography (Hietter 589).

The protagonist also faces many difficult situations with men, such as domestic violence and having children taken away from her at birth. The main character experiences this type of violence mainly because she does not know how to defend herself. The story shows how Celie overcomes these hard times throughout the novel by learning to love herself and find happiness when society expects people like her to feel worthless (Celie’s journey in The Color Purple).

The Color Purple was criticized for its use of explicit language which Alice Walker defended by explaining that this novel talked about issues that needed to be talked about (Walker). The book contained very harsh language; therefore, it was banned in many libraries, including The Public Library of Mount Vernon and The South Hadley High School (Banned Book). The Color Purple also had to be rewritten because the media claimed that Alice Walker was “pornographic” even though she only used words such as “damn”, “shit”, and “bitch” which is very different than the language she used in her book The Color Purple(Walker).

There were many major changes that Alice Walker made throughout The Color Purple and they include: The characters Sofia and Shug Avery become one character named Sophia. Also, Celie has a baby at the end instead of giving birth to a stillborn baby as in early versions of The Color Purple (Walker). The novel’s title was changed as well The Color Purple became Celie’s story. The ending was also changed with Nettie coming back instead of staying in Africa (Walker).

The final change was that Celie and Harpo shared the same wife named Sofia at the end instead of two different women (Walker). The book The Color Purple has won many awards for the message it conveys to readers by using harsh language throughout its pages to express important issues. Alice Walker wanted The Color Purple to convey a message about society’s treatment of black women because it had so much documentation of their mistreatment during this time period of history especially in rural parts of America .

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