The Liberation Of Black Women’s In Color Purple by Alice Walker On October 29st 2012, The Color Purple thoroughly focuses on a life of Celie, an African American woman who is struggling to develop her sense of selfhood. As a black woman growing up in the Deep South during the 1940s, Celie has gone through many difficulties before she could establish herself as an independent woman. All through the story, Celie is presented at the very bottom of the social hierarchy.
At the same time with being discriminated against by whites, she is also treated badly from all black men in her life In this case, Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, letters are used by black women to break the silence that is normally imposed upon them. With the threat from her stepfather “[y]ou better not never tell nobody but God. It’d kill your mammy,” Celie appears in the position of powerlessness from the beginning of the story (3). Sexually violated and barely educated, Celie does not have any other way to express her feeling but by writing letters to God.
Each letter gives the reader a greater insight into Celie’s life as she desperately explains how her life has been ruined at the hands of her stepfather. Without any power to control her own situation, Celie begs God for a sign to let her know what is happening to her: “First he put his thing up gainst my hip and sort of wiggle it around. Then he grab hold me titties. Then he push his thing inside my pussy. When that hurt, I cry. He start to choke me, saying You better shut up and git used to it” (3). In addition, when Celie decides to leave Mr. ______, Squeak also insists with Harpo that she is going to join Shug in the North: “I want to sing, say Squeak” (letter:74 page:183). Like other blues singers, Squeak is able to make a large amount of money by singing in the juke joint. In this case, the juke joint is considered a space of freedom and self determination for black women. The usual patriarchal (man power) dividing line between male and female seems to be blurred in the juke joint. Once women get a chance to be in public, they have more power to control their lives and create destinies of their own.
By the end of the novel, Squeak shows her full potential as an independent woman. Without her ability to sing, Squeak would be the same as any other black women and would not be able to escape from the tyrannical patriarchal system. Also, with Shug’s encouragement, Celie launches the enterprise called Folkspants, Unlimited. Through her successful business, Celie is able to gain her financial independence from Shug and Mr. ______, despite his discouragement: “All you fit to do in Memphis is be Shug’s maid…you nothing at all” (letter:75 page:186-187).
As it is believed that women are supposed to rely on men for everything, the fact that Celie is able to make her own money implies that she does not need men anymore. It is through her pants business that Celie attains her full liberation from the patriarchal system. In addition, Celie’s pants business also provides her with a new identity. As a successful entrepreneur, she is no longer seen as a submissive housewife, but she is now a master of something. She does not have to live with men and do what they tell her anymore.
In brief in conclusion, Alice Walker suggests in her novel The Color Purple another way in which women can escape from patriarchal oppression. Apart from the common theme of female’s solidarity, black women can also find a way toward their liberation through some kinds of feminine activities, including letter writing, singing blues music and doing needlework. Although all these activities are often regarded as trivial and unimportant female labor, they actually provide a private space for black women to express themselves and their feelings as well as their sense of intellectuality.