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Celie’s Companionship – A Review of The Color Purple


By Kevin Rosen

Moving from abusive home to abusive home, losing her children and later her sister, Celie’s life has been far from ideal. Alice Walker’s novel, The Color Purple tells Celie’s story through an array of letters and journal entries over the course of her life. Beginning at a young age, Walker explains Celie’s situation living with her sister and their violent father, referred to as Pa. In addition to physical aggression, Pa destroys Celie’s morale by taking her two children away from her as soon as they’re born. Because of this hellish lifestyle, Celie is more than willing to be sold into marriage to get away from her father. However, her life hardly improves with her new husband, as he too (as do nearly all the men in the novel) seeks to control his wife through violence. In the end, however, with help from the women around her, Celie, along with many of the other oppressed women in the novel, rise above the abuse and oppression to take control of their lives and escape the shadow of violence. Decades after the book takes place, as people often forget about the oppression of the past and the camaraderie needed to overcome it, Alice walker’s, The Color Purple serves to remind people about the need to stand up for what’s right and work towards a common goal.

For much of Celie’s life she is alone. With no friends to turn to, a sister either too young or too distant to help her, and no maternal role model, Celie feels she has little option but to accept her position in life. It is largely because of this isolation and perceived helplessness that Celie is unable and unwilling to strive to better her position on her own accord. However, as soon as a female confidant enters the scene, Celie’s entire outlook changes. Shug Avery, Celie’s husband’s mistress, was all Celie needed to turn her life around. And although Celie in theory should have hated her husband’s mistress, she instead worshipped her and yearned to be more like her. With a strong, confident woman in her life—someone Celie could express herself to and share with—Celie was able to begin resisting patriarchal control. Finally, after years of isolation and oppression, she had an opportunity to rise out of her current station and take greater control of her life. While Celie originally acquiesced to her husband’s every desire, by the end of the novel, she outright disobeyed and disrespected him. This serves to highlight the necessity of companionship in order for society to improve, whether fighting for equal rights in the modern age, or striving to rid oneself of an oppressive man. The cooperation and compassion between two women who, on paper, should hate each other, and the success of their mutual endeavor offers a striking example to the need to put aside unwarranted opinions and work towards a common goal. To this end, the novel remains a valuable reminder to even the modern reader of the social acceptability and even responsibility of individuals to rely on one another to accomplish a shared goal.

While the issues of today are often a far cry from the problems that plagued Celie’s life, the lessons presented in the story remain relevant. In order to further one’s position in the world, one must rely on the people around them for support. In fact, rather than being a burden on Shug Avery, their relationship benefited her as well. The perception that by seeking help, one is unloading their troubles onto someone else and therefore detracting from their own experiences keeps people who are struggling isolated. Realistically however, it is these people that can help society as a whole resolve this issue. Today, people need not wait for an abusive relation to band together in a common goal. Rather any issue, from the pay gap to race discrimination should be brought into the spotlight. Just as Shug happily helped Celie pull her life together, people all over the world are eager to band together with those who share their troubles in an effort to rectify the situation.



Walker, Alice. The Color Purple: A Novel. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1982. Print.

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