Remind yourself of the first 6 letters of the color purple [up to the letter first mentioning Shug Avery]
a. “these letters are the most interesting part of the novel.” How far do you agree with this statement?
b. The use of letters is part of walkers narrative technique, How successful do you find this use?
The color purple opens up with a very threatening command made by her father “you better not never tell nobody but god. It’d kill your mammy” this of course refers to his abuse of her. This is the first of many letters written by Celie to god. Whom (god) is addressed in a close-friends kind of way(reader might find this a tad heterodox) rather than the accepted view of god .In this first letter Celie turns to god for advice and seeking guidance “maybe you can give me a sign…”. Celie whom we assume is pregnant while writing this letter is 14 and does not understand what is happening to her body .Celie’s father “fonso” has turned to her for sexual gratification after her sick “mammy” has refused to and got her pregnant for the second time he has killed her first baby and sold her second one.
Her mother dies and her two babies have been nobbled and she is left with breast full of milk for no one “I got breasts full of milk running down myself”. Alfonso then looks interested in Celie’s younger sister, Nettie, but Celie promises that she will protect her. Alfonso gets remarried to a girl as young as Celie. Nettie meets a man in church who comes around every Sunday and who already has three children of his own (Albert).
Celie is beaten by Alfonso for winking at a man, but she writes that she was not winking at any man-if she were going to look at anyone, she writes, it would be a woman because she is not scared of women. Celie felt sorry for her mother because she died trying to believe Alfonso, who had told her that Celie’s children were not his.
Celie then tries to persuade Nettie to marry Mr____ because alphonso is interested in her, she does not tell her why but urges to marry him so that she has “one good year out your life”.But when Mr.____ came to ask for Nettie’s hand in marriage alphonso said he cant marry her off to him because he want her to finish her schooling and offers Celie instead and adding her cow in to seal the bargain. Celie’s step mom finds a picture of Shug Avery and Celie falls in love with her and makes her her idol.
I don’t believe these first 6 chapters of the novel are the most interesting ones, for they are merely an introduction to the abusive and voice-less life of Celie and none of the biggest characters in the novel have been introduced yet and so offers no way of knowing what will be her fate in life and shows none of the valor Celie owns , the ardour love and passion Shug and Celie will share nor any of the major happenings that are to be the most reminiscent components of the novel.
The epistolary, or letter-writing, form of The Color Purple used by Walker is more or less like a diary, since Celie tells her story through private letters that she writes to God. Therefore this allows cellie to express everything that happens and everything she feels with complete candor and honesty. As a victim of an abusive life Celie is forced to live a life of complete disfranchisement and so these letters allow her feelings to be expressed without filtering .
Walker’s use of Celie’s own voice allow Walker to describe the life of black women in the south in a sympathetic and realistic way. Unlike how a historian might explain these living conditions which is in an overly antiseptic and overly -analytical way, Celie’s letters offers a first-person view of these conditions of sexism, incest, and racism. Her words might seem a little senseless and stripped off excess emotion but still seem to reach the readers’ hearts.we seem to believe that Celie has been numbed and cannot feel the pain the way it should be felt. “my mama dead. She die screaming and cussing. She scream at me she cuss at me”
I think Walker was very successful at this since the reader is left with a multitude of emotions and feelings after reading every letter and being continuously true and corporeal from the beginning to the end.