The book “The Color Purple” was written by Alice Walker and it is an epistolary novel. It narrates a story about a black female life back in the 1930s in the southern United States. The Color Purple is composed of letters written to God and it briefly summarize the story and hardship of the main character Celie. Alice Walker used very different styles of language for different characters in the book, which are Celie and Nettie. The whole book was written in first person from the Celie’s point of view and every letters she starts with Dear God, which seems like that she is addresssing us as a God.
Walker used a language, consisting of poor grammar and spelling intentionally to present Celie’s thoughts. This shows effectively that black females at that time weren’t well-educated due to racism that existed in United States, which led to the division between black children schools and white children schools. And so, Celie in her letters uses African-American language, that is typical for black females at that time. Walker here, used African-American language for Celie to put stress on the African slave trade, where African captives were forced to communicate among themselves and with their captors in English.
African-American language then arose from one or more slave creoles combined with the original english. This pidgin english contains language features that can be found throughout the book “The Color Purple” such as, lexis”Ain’t”, double negatives “Us don’t say nothing to each other”, phonetic spelling “ast”, etc. Nevertheless, the racism that existed wasn’t the only problem that Celie had to face, but also she was sexually and physically abused by her non-biological father from the very early childhood, which can be seen from the very beginning of the book.
Later on, she was also sold into a marriage to a man who wants a servant, not a wife, who keeps abusing her just like her fake-father Alphonso. Another issue is therefore being brought up here and it is a gender issue. Dominance of men over women limits the education that women could have, as they believe that women shouldn’t be educated apart from household schooling. This therefore takes us back to the issue with education. On the other hand, Nettie, Celie’s younger sister was educated to some extent and that can be seen later on in the book, where we find out that she escaped to Africa.
She is writing to Celie letters and we can see that her writing is neatly organized into paragraphs and grammar as well as the spellings are without mistakes. Nettie also uses very complex words, which in the book, Celie said that’s hard to understand. This clearly shows, that Nettie’s academic knowledge has widen, thanks to the stay in Africa with Samuel and Corrine. Her language used is a standard english, using no lexis, double negatives nor phonetic spellings, as she was well-educated and was not abused by anyone, allowing her to become an independent women.
Walker’s use of language is very detailed and graphic. The events that take place in the book can almost jump out at us as the events are described so clearly and precisely. As I have said, it is very graphic, which allow us to easily visualize what’s happening and one example can be found on page 84, where Walker describes beaten Sofia. “I see Sofia and I don’t know why she still alive. They crack her skull, they crack her ribs. They tear her nose loose on one side. They blind her in one eye. She swole from head to foot.
Her tongue the size of my arm, it stick out tween her teef like a piece of rubber. She can’t talk. And she just about the color of eggplant. ” One would say that this is too graphic and going into too much detail, which make the description of her horrible condition too brutal to read. Sophia was throughout the story, said to be strong, kind and independent and here we can see her with wounds, which make it really depressing. ?? ?Despite of its violence, “The Color Purple” is also very rich with its sexual content.
Celie in herletters is very open to God and she reveals everything about her intimate relationship, which again, Walker describes in too much details, which are beyond the comfort levels of many people. Walker therefore should cut out the sexual language and scenes that is inappropriate and irrelevant to read, because the language used there is not censored and is openly exposed to the readers. However, because of the extreme language, the feminist movement is to an effect stronger and can more easily convey the message related to the gender issue.
On the other hand, apart of its violence and sexuality, the language is very impressive and convincing. Someone might read “The Color Purple” and think for a moment that the book is based on a real story, but it is not so. It is achieved by the creative language used, which Walker said to be inspired by her grandfather’s stories. We can also assume that someone in her family must have known African-american language well, so that she could adapt it for the story “The Color Purple”.
My personal view on this book is that the book is well-written and I admire it for its language simplicity compared to other books. However, the main themes like violence, race and sex are not very appealing to me and it is hard for me to sympathize with the characters in the book as most of the “good” characters are all females, while most of other Antagonists are males. And so, female gender issue cannot be related to me anyhow. Nevertheless, “The Color Purple” is packed with a lot of ideas and the story has a good buildup as well as the pace.