- June 29, 2020
The Color Purple is a 1985 movie based on the eponymous novelwritten by Alice Walker. The film starred prominent actors such asWhoopi Goldberg, Danny Glover, Margaret Avery, and Desreta Jackson,and Oprah Winfrey (The Color Purple). The movie relates theexperiences of a young woman, Celie Harris, who endures domesticviolence, sexism, rape, and other hardships (The Color Purple). Otherfemales in the film were also subjected to various forms ofoppression. Black women experienced numerous challenges due to theirgender, race, and social status.
The film reveals the objectification and exploitation of women (Singh16). Celie is perpetually abused by her father while her motherrecovered from illness. Pa used emotional blackmail to prevent hisdaughter from revealing his depravity. Psychological entrapment wasespecially successful since the father exploited Celie’s love forher mother. In fact, he claimed that informing others about theincidents of sexual abuse would devastate her childbearing.Furthermore, Pa mercilessly raped Celie’s sister, Nettie Harris(The Color Purple). In this regard, he viewed women as mere sexualobjects designed to satisfy his lustful attitudes. Pa also showedimmense disrespect for his ailing wife. Although the latter neededcomfort and encouragement, she was distressed to learn of herhusband’s actions. Pa was also disloyal by participating indepraved sexual encounters. Celie’s mother was powerless to preventher husband from harming her underage daughters (Singh 17).Consequently, she died and left her children in perilous danger.
The Color Purple also shows the effects of domestic violenceon women. Pa customarily inflicted physical harm on his daughters. Inparticular, Celie conceived two children from her father (Dol). Shewas convinced that Pa murdered her firstborn daughter in the woods.The second child had been sold as a mere slave. Celie endeavors toprotect her sister from sexual and physical abuse. Pa’s hatred forhis daughters is revealed when Mr. Albert Johnson offered to marryNettie. The father allowed Celie to be Mr. Johnson’s wife becauseshe was the ugly one (The Color Purple). In this regard, Pa treatedhis daughters as commodities that could be traded to the highestbidder (Singh 19). Therefore, domestic violence dehumanized women.
The film depicts the distressing conditions that women endured duringmarriage (Sedehi et al. 1330). Celie’s husband treated her as anursemaid and slave. In particular, she was required to cater for Mr.Johnson’s children from his previous marriage (Dol). Celie alsoexperienced marital rape since her husband paid little attention toher emotional needs. Mr. Johnson usually focused on his personalgratification (The Color Purple). Furthermore, he made sexualadvances on Nettie when she escaped from her father’s grasp.Subsequently, she was forced to run away and seek asylum elsewhere.Celie’s mother also experienced humiliation and disloyalty from herhusband. Rather than care for his wife, Pa chose to violate hisdaughters. Celie’s husband also subjected her to intense ridiculeand torment. He subverted her willpower and caused her to loseself-respect (Sedehi et al., 1331). Celie wrote letters to God toseek solace through her anguish. Hence, married women were forced toendure numerous atrocities.
The Color Purple manifests the value of resilience inresisting domestic violence. On the other hand, Sofia resists herhusband’s attempts to violate her humanity (Sedehi et al. 1332).Mr. Johnson viewed his son, Harpo, as weak due to the latter’sinability to subjugate Sofia. Consequently, Harpo tried to assaultSofia and hence assert his male authority. Nevertheless, she defiedher husband and nullified his oppressive traits. In fact, Sofiaretaliated whenever her spouse tried to cause her physical harm.Harpo portrayed his insecurity when he allowed his father toinfluence his actions towards his wife. Notably, Celie felt thatHarpo had the right to beat his wife (The Color Purple). She hadgrown accustomed to suffering abuse and other forms of inhumanetreatment. Although Celie submitted to her father’s and husband’sbeatings, Sofia was ready to fight for her rights (Singh 62).Therefore, women were capable of resisting mistreatment.
The film shows the role of self-determination in the treatment ofwomen. Celie was resigned to her fate and felt that women could notsurvive without an abusive husband (Singh 59). She was shocked whenSofia thought of abandoning her marriage. Celie could envision norespite for women with tyrannical husbands (The Color Purple). Sofiaabhorred Harpo’s frequent attempts to subjugate her and diminishher self-esteem. Eventually, she walked out on her husband whileaccompanied by her children. Sofia could not bear to be treated asinferior at the hands of men. Celie was subjected to inhumanetreatment by her father and husband. She was also tortured bythoughts of her lost children (Dol). Hence, Celie lost the will tofight for her rights as a woman. She could not take action to changeher circumstances (Meyer). However, Sofia chose to resist adversityand exploitation. In this regard, the film shows the importance ofself-determination.
The Color Purple also depicts the existence of systemicracism. In particular, many whites viewed blacks as inferior personswhom they could exploit (King). In many cases, African Americans wererecruited as manual laborers and maidservants. Sofia was determinedto avoid being treated as a slave. Her headstrong and confrontationalnature was manifested during her interaction with Miss Millie (Singh63). Notably, Sofia refused to work as a maid in the mayor’s house.The mayor slapped her while lamenting her insubordination (The ColorPurple). In response, Sofia hit the mayor and knocked him down. Thepublic official assumed that she was desperate and inferior. Themayor`s arrogance and chauvinism were reflected in his decision toslap Sofia (King). Hence, black women were viewed as indispensable.
The film reveals how whites used the criminal justice system topropagate their racist attitudes (King). For example, Sofia was sentto prison after striking the mayor. Although her sentence wascommuted, she was forced to work for the mayor’s wife.Subsequently, Sofia was employed as a maidservant for 12 years (TheColor Purple). She was also unable to spend time with her childrenwhile in the mayor’s house (Dol). Sofia’s difficulties show thepervasion of institutional racism. Women were subjected to abuse athome and in other social settings. Blacks were especially susceptibleto oppression and discrimination (King). Miss Millie showed thecalloused nature of whites to the point of exploiting fellow women.Sofia lost her enthusiasm and optimism after completing her 12-yearservice at the mayor’s residence (Sedehi et al. 1333).Consequently, whites achieved success in oppressing blacks.
The film also displays the importance of solidarity and friendshipsamong women. Shug Avery helped Celie to discover several facts abouther family members (Singh 20). For example, they were relieved tolearn that Nettie was still alive. Celie was also angry at Mr.Johnson when she discovered that her sister’s letters were hiddenfor many decades. Moreover, she learned that Pa was not herbiological parent. In this respect, he feigned concern for the girlsto inherit the family’s property. Pa pretended to be Celie’sfather so that the mother could assign the house to him (The ColorPurple). Shug also helped the latter to gain financial independenceand increase her sense of self-esteem. In fact, Celie opened a smallbusiness of sewing and selling affordable trousers. Considerablemoral support helped her to develop greater joy and regain her lostconfidence. Although Celie and Nettie lived different lives, bothsisters were kind and considerate (Singh 21). Therefore, the filmshows the importance of women cultivating close friendships.
The Color Purple highlights the power of education andself-awareness. Celie was relieved to read her sister’s letters,which were hidden in a trunk for many years (The Color Purple). Thesiblings were subjected to severe abuse by their father. Both womenalso experienced distressing circumstances at the hands of Mr.Johnson. Therefore, Sofia and Nettie could rely on each other formoral support. The film proves that educated women had a higherlikelihood of developing self-mastery and self-expression (Meyer). Anindividual’s background had a direct bearing on their future. Inmany instances, women were disadvantaged since they lackededucational opportunities. The lack of exposure would restrictfemales to child-bearing and household chores (Dol). Celie was deniedthe chance to attend local schools. Besides, she conceived twochildren before attaining adulthood. Pa also allowed Mr. Johnson tomarry Celie although she was immature and unprepared for maritalresponsibilities. Inevitably, Celie could not overcome the odds thatwere stacked against her (Singh 63). She even felt that women couldnot live independently of men. Celie’s lifelong exposure todomestic violence and abuse led her to believe that such conduct wasjustifiable (Meyer). Therefore, The Color Purple shows thevalue of education in shaping a person’s future.
Indeed, the film shows that black women were victimized due to theirgender, social status, and race. Celia, Nettie, and Sofia sufferedsince they were poor, black women in a patriarchal society. BothNettie and Celia were subjected to sexual abuse at the hands of theirfather. Pa routinely raped his daughters and issue threats to ensuretheir silence. He also caused them intense physical harm as a way ofasserting his authority. Subsequently, Pa married off Celie to a manwith children from a previous relationship. He failed to acknowledgehis daughter’s right to choose her husband. Pa also betrayed hiswife`s trust by raping and impregnating her children. Hence, Nettiewas forced to escape and seek a better life elsewhere. Celie was alsophysically and sexually abused by her husband. Mr. Johnson paidlittle attention to his wife’s emotional needs. He also forcedCelie to work as a maidservant to prevent her from attainingenlightenment. Additionally, Mr. Johnson made sexual advances onNettie while she escaped from her father’s cruelty. On the otherhand, Sofia showed incredible stamina by resisting her husband’scruelty. She also abandoned her marriage to avoid perennialconflicts. Sofia also manifested her aversion to racism by refusingto work for the mayor’s wife. Although she needed secular work, shecould not bear to work for a white man. Nevertheless, she wasimprisoned for striking the mayor. Eventually, Sofia was forced towork as a maidservant for 12 years. In this regard, The ColorPurple shows the helplessness that caused many women to persevereunder severe oppression. Rather than depending on men and otherpatriarchal structures, females needed to support each other throughlife’s difficulties. It was also critical for women to pursueeducation and self-awareness. Consequently, incidents of domesticviolence, sexual abuse, and other forms of exploitation would reduce.
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Meyer, Frieda. "" The Color Purple": How is thedevelopment of Celie portrayed throughout the novel?." (2012).Print.
Sedehi, Kamelia Talebian, et al. "The Color Purple and women`stime." Journal of Language Teaching and Research 5.6(2014): 1328-1333.
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The Color Purple. Dir. Steven Spielberg. Warner Bros.Pictures, 1985. Film.