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The book : the color purple by Alice Walker

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The book : the color purple by Alice Walker

Category: Essay Outline

Subcategory: Classic English Literature

Level: High School

Pages: 8

Words: 2200

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Thesis Statement: In The Color Purple the protagonist- Celie- through a series of letters (epistolary) both to God and her sister [Nettie] narrates of the brutal exploding of sexism and racism she undergoes and also witnesses.
Abstract 1 (Primary Source)
Throughout the novel sexism is highly expressed with black women mainly being subjected to the highest level of discrimination against their gender. Celie’s series of letters to God narrates how she is subjected to abuse. In one letter Celie describes having being subjected to sexual and physical abuse by the man who supposedly is her father, she is married off forcefully to a wealthy local man (widower) Albert Johnson. Celie doesn’t know his real name and only knows him as ‘Mister’. Mister just like any other men is brutal to women and looks down upon women. Violence becomes part of Celie‘s and Mister’s marriage. He beats her because he has no respect for her and women in general. Albert’s son, Harpo once asks his father why he beats Celie- “Harpo ast his daddy why he beat me. Mr._______ say, Cause he my wife. Plus, she stubborn. All women good for—he don’t finish. He just tuck his chin over the paper like he do. Remind me of Pa” (Chapter 13 Par 1). Again we see Harpo being inconsiderate by asking Celie why she is so stubborn towards his father instead of supporting her from the brutality. Harpo and his father view women as slaves who should do everything for them as men sit and be served as kings. When Albert’s sister Kate tells Harpo to help Celie go bring water because he is now old enough he refuses. He says women work and that he is a man. “Harpo, she [Kate, Mr.’s___ sister] say. Harpo the oldest boy. Harpo, don’t let Celie be the one bring in all the water. You a big boy now. Time for you to help out some. Women work, he say. What? She say. Women work. I’m a man” (Chapter 12 Par 28-30). Furthermore as Harpo goes to bring the water he fumbles something to his father showing his displeasure of doing work instead of women (Celie) doing it.
Harpo’s wife Sofia is more emotionally strong and doesn’t settle for Harpo’s sexist approaches. Harpo feels he should control his wife and even seeks guidance from his father. “You ever hit her? Mr._________ ast. Harpo look down at his hands. Naw suh, he say low, embarrass. Well how you spect to make her mind? Wives is like children. You have to let ‘em know who got the upper hand. Nothing can do that better than a good sound beating.” (Chapter 19 Par1-2). Though their marriage is at first peaceful they eventually fight after Celie incites Harpo because of jealousy. Nettie who is Celie’s younger sister ran off to stay with a missionary couple (Reverend Samuel and Corrine).In a letter to Celie from Nettie, we see that the couple together with Nettie travel to Africa for a missionary work. While there more evidence of sexism is portrayed further when Nettie learns that the Olinka people and the culture in general view women not highly and regard them as men’s subordinates and therefore their importance is considered to be used by men to be their subjects. Different from the Olinka culture, Nettie thinks highly of women and views women in the society as very important and plays a crucial part. “The Olinka do not believe girls should be educated. When I asked a mother why she thought this, she said: A girl is nothing to herself; only to her husband can she become something. What can she become? I asked. Why, she said, the mother of his children. But I am not the mother of anybody’s children, I said, and I am something. You are not much, she said. The missionary’s drudge” (Chapter 62 Par 3-7). In another one of Nettie’s letters, Nettie’s niece Olivia who is an adopted child of the missionary couple asks Nettie why people think that she will only become the wife of the chief. Nettie in her alpha female role tells her that she should never think of herself that way. She tells Olivia that she [Olivia] is going to be strong Christian who is going to help her people develop by being a teacher or a nurse. Moreover still in the Olinka community Nettie faces opposition from men there when she suggests that Tashi is an intelligent girl who can become a teacher and help people from her community. They say there is no place for women to do that in the Olinka community. Tashi an African young girl later marries Adam one of the couple’s adopted children. Again from a letter to God from Celie we see sexist remarks from Albert (Mister) when Celie outbursts claiming that she has cursed him. Mister laughs saying Celie can’t nor curse anyone. He inflicts pain by telling her she is black, poor and ugly and above all she is a woman. He ends telling her that she is nothing at all. This completely brings our Albert as a man who views women as lesser human beings and loathes them. Sexism among women is also brought up in Walker’s work when Shug, Albert’s mistress first encounters Celie. In another letter to God Celie narrates how Shug tells her [Celie] that sure she is ugly which comes out as looking down on her. However this doesn’t affect their friendship and even they become closer and even show an intimate relationship. Shug is the main influence of making Celie come out from being a weak, timid and submissive woman to becoming a bold independent woman towards the end of the of novel.

Thesis Statement: In The Color Purple the protagonist- Celie- through a series of letters (epistolary) both to God and her sister [Nettie] narrates of the brutal exploding of sexism and racism she undergoes and also witnesses.
Abstract 2 (Primary Source)
Racism in The Color Purple is also portrayed. The biggest evidence of racism against the black community is where Sofia gets beaten for refusing to become a housemaid for the mayor’s wife. The mayor and his wife view a black working for them to be a very big privilege. “She say to Sofia, All your children so clean, she say, would you like to work for me, be my maid? Sofia say, Hell no. She say, what you say? Sofia say, Hell no.
Mayor look at Sofia, push his wife out the way. Stick out his chest. Girl, what you say to Miss Millie? Sofia say, I say, Hell no. He slap her.”(Chapter 37 Par 13-19) Sofia is not only slapped by the Mayor’s wife but also she is brutally beaten and even sentenced to a twelve year jail term. This is all done to confirm to Sofia that she is inferior to the white race and that she belongs right below them. However Sofia is released from jail before her term is over and agrees to work for the mayor. Her work is that of a slave. She works for many hours and is mistreated being allowed to see her children only once in a year. When one of her sons manages to see her, he tells her not to call it slavery but Sofia refutes that and claims she is hold a slave. She tells him that she lives in a very tiny storeroom that is cold and she works all night and day. She is not even allowed to see men and most hurtful is that she wasn’t let to see her children for five years until they changed that to once a year. The racist aspect is also brought up again when the Mayor’s wife hints at Sofia that she cannot sit in front of a car with her unless she is teaching her how to drive or clean the car. The Mayor’s wife is reluctant to get in the car with Sofia in the front seat and insists social protocol to be followed. This is a moment of social awkwardness for Sofia and clearly a racist remark towards her. This is all described from Celie’s letters to God
A subjective view of race in the bible also comes out in this novel in one of Nettie’s letters to Celie. Nettie who is a strong faithful Christian finds out that the bible indeed is full of black people. Some people had made her believe that the whites had portrayed the people to be composed of only the white community. Again Olivia is surprised why the Olinka community won’t let Tushi get education. When Nettie says that they don’t value educating women Olivia then responds quickly asserting that they are like white people back at home who can’t let colored people get education. The issue of racism is brought out again.
Thesis Statement: In The Color Purple the protagonist- Celie- through a series of letters (epistolary) both to God and her sister [Nettie] narrates of the brutal exploding of sexism and racism she undergoes and also witnesses.
Abstract 1 (Secondary Source)
While The Color Purple is a work of literature based on fiction, Nellie McKay argues that literary works are a way of African American authors trying to show their lived experience. Walker’s novel through the creativity of using series of letters from the protagonist to narrate shows the brutal sexist domination of the African American woman by the African American man. The realities of sexism and racism in the Black movement are quite evident. While the African American (black) movement has been in the foreground fighting hard woman movement has been left behind Shirley Chisholm argues that the two movements have not addressed the social and political problems for the black women. “When black people are talked about sexism militates against the acknowledgement of the interest of Black women; when women are talked about racism militates against recognition of a black woman’s interest.” (Bell and Blumenfeld 28-29). They further argue that there can be sexism with no racism but not racism without sexism. They say sexism is used to justify racism, sexism historically came before racism and that also racism is a causative agent for racism. All this assertions are true based on the novel where both sexism and racism go hand in hand especially among the black men like Albert.
Thesis Statement: In The Color Purple the protagonist- Celie- through a series of letters (epistolary) both to God and her sister [Nettie] narrates of the brutal exploding of sexism and racism she undergoes and also witnesses.
Abstract 2(Secondary Source)
Steven Spielberg’s film ‘The Color Purple’ (1985) forms a basis for our second secondary source. This film based on the novel by Alice Walker depicts the chronological order of events as portrayed by Walker using the letters that the protagonist- Celie writes. Spielberg’s work clearly brings out the aspect of sexism and racism in the movie played by Whoppi Goldenberg (Celie), Oprah Winfrey (Sofia) and Danny Glover (Mister) as the main cast among others. The movie nominated for 11 Academy Awards was a classic hit that many people described as top release shows the fort-year eventful life of Celie and the brutal sexism and racism she and other female characters underwent. Filmmaker Oliver Stone classified The Color Purple as “an excellent movie”. It is also worth noting that the letters expressed in the novel are explored by use of monologues in the film.
Thesis Statement: In The Color Purple the protagonist- Celie- through a series of letters (epistolary) both to God and her sister [Nettie] narrates of the brutal exploding of sexism and racism she undergoes and also witnesses.
Abstract 3(Secondary Source)
Somayeh and Ataeiniya (2014) article “Race, Gender in The Color Purple by Alice Walker” clearly outlines the thematic issues of racism and sexism in Walker’s work. They argue that the lives of black women (African American) have been affected hugely by these two factors. Black women are separated from the normal subjective view by the sole issue of their sex. “In the United States, racial segregation constitutes a fundamental principle of how racism is organized” (Collins 2000, Pg. 30). Their conclusion is that Alice Walker through the use of the letters in her novel views the American community as a racist, sexist and a colorist society. The novel is about what American women go through as a result of sexist attitudes from members of their families as seen by Celie and Sofia as well as Nettie who undergo difficult times in the hands of the men in their lives as expressed by their[Celie and Nettie] letters. The novel is also a story of the metamorphosis that the protagonist undergoes from being a young weak, ignorant woman to becoming a strong independent woman capable of maintaining herself. This novel celebrates all women who have overcome racist and sexist remarks made against them to become important figures in the society as concluded by Somayeh and Ataeiniya (2014)
Thesis Statement: In The Color Purple the protagonist- Celie- through a series of letters (epistolary) both to God and her sister [Nettie] narrates of the brutal exploding of sexism and racism she undergoes and also witnesses.
Abstract 6 (Introduction and Conclusion)
Introduction
Born in Entonton, Georgia, Alice Walker was a brilliant writer. She was the daughter of Willie Lee and Minnie Talluah Grant Walker. She went to Spelman and Sarah Lawrence College, Walker was a civil rights activist. Besides, she served as a voter registrar in Georgia and also served as the chief of Head Start program in Mississippi. She also worked for the welfare department in New York. The Color Purple (1982) is a playwright novel that features a fourteen-year-old girl’s plea for help. Celie who is the protagonist seems to have suffered repeated brutal beatings as well as being raped by her father, Alphonso, who in novel’s beginning line tells she better not tells anyone apart from God. The novel is written in a narration from Celie’s perspective in form of a sequence of letters. In the letters Celie writes to God about the life of being sexually abused as a child, physically abused and a solitary life. As the novel unravels more females characters come up who also face the terrible sexism as well as racist remarks on them. Racism refers to discrimination directed against a person of a different race based on the belief that the other’s race is inferior. Additionally sexism refers to discrimination, mostly against women, on the basis of sex. This work is going to explore and bring out the overwhelming themes of racism and sexism in Walker’s novel.
Conclusion
Sexism and racism have been part of America’s historical background. Many authors not only Walker have expressed their views on these issues through their works. They have shown the plight African Americans and especially the women in regards to their gender and race discrimination. As she put it in the novel, “Everything wants to be loved. Us sing and dance and holler, just trying to be loved.” Walker through an impressive use of epistolary brought out the lives of black women in rural Georgia in mid-nineties. Any human being needs to feel loved and appreciated. Sexism and racism is not dead in America and other societies but it has greatly reduced. More authors are going to continue writing about these dreadful issues in the society until we have no more of them. Sexism and racism is the root of all evils in the society and we have to fight them off and bring up a generation that does not condone these evils. We have to stay in this fight for long as it takes! In a quest to flush out these two vices it will also require the black woman to rise up and show the world that she got what it takes. As going by the words by Oprah Winfrey [who played in the film] “I was raised to believe that excellence is the best deterrent to racism or sexism. And that’s how I operate my life”.

Works Cited
Walker, Alice. The Color Purple: A Novel. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1982. Print.
Bell, Linda A and David Blumenfeld. Overcoming Racism and Sexism. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1995. Print.
Steven Spielberg The Color Purple (2005) film http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/the-color-purple-1985Somayeh and Ataeiniya Race, Gender in the Color Purple by Alice Walker 2014 International Journal on English Language and Literature Volume 2, Issue 1 ISSN 2321 – 8584

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