Essay on Racism in 'The Color Purple'

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The present chapter deals with the history of African-American Black people’s slavery, oppression, and empowerment. Women are treated as slaves in their own country. They are not free. They had a lot of problems in their life. The common bond of struggle stands for women’s struggles such as seduction, violence, racism, etc. These are all the major factors in every society. Unfortunately, the wealthiest Black people treated the poor Blacks as slaves. This is considered one of the drawbacks of Black society.

African Americans are the most significant racial group in the United States. They have been treated as slaves for two hundred and fifty years. Collins O. Airhihenbuwa and Gary King clarify:

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The use of the taxonomic category African American, either in public or health or other disciplines, fundamentally reflects the historic and contemporary systems of racial stratification in American society. The term African American, as a categorical descriptor, includes many different segments of the American population referred to as black or Americans of sub-Saharan African ancestry. It is also a product of the group self-definition process in which African Americans have historically engaged as an expression of identity, power, defiance, pride, and the struggle for human rights. These designations were often in contradistinction to official government classifications and popular characterizations, which frequently reflected prevailing ideas about white supremacy intended to denigrate African Americans.

This chapter reflects the history of African-American slavery in America. It focuses not only on the blacks but also describes the female’s hard life in America. They are treated as slaves by their families, children, husbands, society, etc. Slavery is an important aspect of the USA. Black people are treated as mere objects. They do not have any opportunity to deal with their ordinary life.

The Color Purple particularly mentions the larger group of slave women, they are women but they are sold for specific purposes such as sexual. Young and beautiful girls are used as sexual servants, and Rape and abuse are repeated in that society. Sometimes women are seduced by their masters and male slaves. Unexpectedly, the white women also punished the slaves, especially when they pointed out the female slaves. They do not marry anyone without their master’s permission. Katie Blackwell Johnson says,

Who married the slaves? Man, folks didn’t get married then. If a man saw a girl he liked he would ask his master’s permission to ask the master of the girl for her. If his master consented and her master consented then they came together. She lived on her plantation and he on his. The woman had no choice in the matter.

This novel considers the history of African-American involvement in the antislavery movement and the fight for equal rights for Black women. Some of them joined the movement such as Patricia Hill Collins, Perkins, and Judith. They are struggling for black women’s rights.

Maria W. Stewart is the first protester of African-American people’s rights. She encourages their people to fight against slavery and gives some awareness of education and freedom. She says, “We have pursued the shadow, they have obtained the substance, we have performed the labor they have received the profits; we have planted the vines, they have eaten to fruits of them”. She is a good lecturer; her speech gives awareness to the school students and the public. African-American women have a significant role in the anti-slavery movement. Blackwell is the first person to introduce the awareness of Black people. And then, Kathi A. Perkins and Judith L. Stephens are followers of Blackwell. Alice Walker is also coming under this category. She fights with White people with the help of her writings.

Alice Walker is an African-American writer. In her third novel The Color Purple, she has particularly written in an epistolary form. It gives the history of Black women's lives in the 19th century. This novel is a great example of the dominant society and her writings. Blacks are not allowed to do anything that they like. The Black women are used as cooks, sweepers, etc. A common bond of struggle is used in the novel The Color Purple. Every Black woman has a lot of problems in her life. It is not the easiest one because they are treated like slaves against men. This novel mainly focuses on the history of the conflict and haplessness of Black women. They are fighting throughout the century and then get an identity in society. They are used as nurses, cooks, and cleaners. The Black male characters in the novel use violence against their wives. Sophia suffers a lot from her gender, race, and social class. Her story underscores how difficult it is to escape institutional racism and patriarchal structures of power in the southern United States.

Sophia is a rebel therefore she rejects both Black and White oppression. Sophia lived in the South in the 1930s as she was Black, so she expected to obey and be a slave to the whites both economically and socially. Sophia is never willing to do this. She wants to marry a young man but never accepts boss-servant relations. She is honestly expressing her feelings differently. So her character is also appreciated by the African-American society. She does not like to deal with ordinary African-American women. Unfortunately, their relationships are unpleasant. Mr.___, Celie and Harpo start to beat Sophia. But Sophia always fights them and does not agree with Harpo's ideas. She knows that the idea came from Celie's. Then she becomes angry, with Celie's family and Harpo also.

Oppression more or less destroys Sophia. Walker also uses Sophia to show the power of community, family, and friendship. Walker explores the problematic relationships between men and women. At that time, men earned control over the family, while women had to be obedient, have children, and take care of the family. This is true of Miss Millie as well as Celie, although the novel portrays the greatest honor given to a White wife.

Many of the Black man, who lacked power and control in a White-dominated society, got angry with their families. This is called the first oppression of Black Women. As a result, Black women were oppressed by the White men and women. Family support is a plus point for everyone. Shug Avery has a great role in the novel because she helps to recover Celie’s identity and strength. Most of the time Shug Avery and Sophia can fight each other, when they are united, their strength will also enriched to restrict male domination. Nettie also discovers the patriarchal system of domination. The girls are left without education and ritual.

Alice Walker’s The Color Purple shows the female characters' fate. It colors the women’s position in the society. They have a religious faith; obviously, they have good relations with god. The religious faith is a central theme in The Color Purple. They are always honest and straightforward because of their religion. They treat the God as a friend. But the white people are not following the religious faith and rules.

The word ‘oppression’ is not just a word. It is the fate of every society. This word has a lot of meaning such as struggle, slavery, racism, etc. Oppression is a Latin word, that means suffering. The African-American Black people are suffering mentally and physically. In The Color

Purple, the female characters such as Celie, Nettie, Sophia, Squeak, and Corrine have a lot of pain under the society of male domination and patriarchy.

The story focuses on the main character Celie who plays a significant role in oppression. She is under the control of her stepfather. In the beginning, she was 14 years old and was born into a poor family. Her father passed away, her mother is sick. So, Celie takes care of their family. But her stepfather ill-treated her. Celie is a black woman, so she directly communicates with God. God is a best friend of Celie. But she calls Gods as a father, mother, sister, etc. Celie is always called the central figure of African-American literature. Her characters represent not only Celie’s oppression but also a story of oppressed women in the world.

Celie is born into a poor family. So she can understand the religious faith of “Karma” Karma means ‘action’. It explains the darkness of life. Mostly, African people's religious faith is equal to the Indian philosophy, or faith. Because both of them have a great religious faith and are also, suppressed by Whites. In this novel, the readers easily find out the darkness of Celie’s life. Karma performs in two ways, such as good and bad action. The action may be played immediately or later.

Celie has finally overcome their oppression because Shug Avery gives the rebirth of her life. So, she gets financial freedom and liberation. Shug Avery is a central character of the novel because she reveals the secret of Nettie’s life. Celie gets freedom with the help of Shug Avery. And she wants some financial freedom. This freedom is also given by Shug. Most of the women suffer in financial states because if they want something, they ask their husbands, fathers, etc. So, they are financially suppressed in the society. But Celie makes unisex cloth and gets economic freedom also. God is compared to the white people because Shug Avery is helped to release the panic situation. So, she called God.

Walker’s woman character is considered a slave. They did not have any freedom. They are oppressed by their society and family. It not only mentions the character of Celie but also other women characters such as Shug, Nettie, Sophia, etc.

Sophia has an important role in the African-American society. She is often affected mentally, and physically by the White people. She marries a young man Horpo, the son of Mr.Albert. Sophia’s husband Horpo is good. He helps anything with his wife. But Mr.__does not have this quality. So, Horpo gets an idea from his father. And then he beats her. But she is a courageous lady, so she is not willing to live with him. She plans to escape from Horpo’s life. She has some male activities like wood cutting, repairing roofs, etc. she says, she will do anything like a man. She never likes the slave life. She wants some freedom. So she wears pants like men. It reflects the independent activity of Sophia. Mr.__plans to separate his son and Sophia. But she does not have any restriction to come out of his life, because she wants freedom. She is working as a maid in one of the White man’s family. Unfortunately, she beats her master, so she goes to jail for eight years. After the release of her punishment, she goes to the White man's family and works as a maid. Walker creates the strong character, Sophia. This character is liked by Miss Eleanor. She is one of the White friends by Sophia. But Miss. Eleanor doubts about how the black girls get strength. She has surprisingly seen her. Sophia is not innocent but she creates the news of liberty. Sophia always asks the jailor’s wife to live with her family, because the White people are not living like slaves. This incident also expresses her freedom.

Mary Agnes is another weaker woman in the novel. She is the second wife of Mr. Horpo. She is a good and obedient person like Celie. She is like a servant of Horpo. She wants liberation but she does not express it anyway. She reveals her original character in Celie’s forty-first letter. She says, “Horpo say, I love you, Squeak. He kneels and tries to put his arms around her waist. She stands up. My name is Mary Agnes.” She wants to refuge the suppression. So she creates the music channel. Shug Avery also helped her. She runs a shop with the help of Avery and gets liberty from the African society.

Nettie has an important role in the novel. She is a young sister of Celie. She is a strong and courageous woman with the help of her sister, Celie. Nettie is an educated woman also. But her stepfather planned to abuse her. But Celie’ll not allowed to do this. And Mr.__also wants to marry her but Celie helps them all the time to her sister. In Celie’s seventh letter, Albert used some irritating words:

She is ugly…But she ain’t stranger to hard work And she clean. And God done fixed her. You can do everything just like you want to and she ain’t gonna make you feed it or clothe it’ (Seventh letter).

Nettie is an educated person. So, she will plan to come out of the situation. And then she joined a Christian Missionary couple. Celie’s children are adopted by them. So, Nettie takes care of them and conveys the message to her sister.

The Color Purple’s epistolary format gives the representation of women’s educational oppression. The women are strictly restricted to study. So, Celie’s language is an example of oppression. Mostly, Celie writes a letter to God. Her writing does not have correct spelling, grammar, structure, etc.. because she is not allowed to study by her step-father. In her childhood day, she was raped by her father, so she is not willing to release the secret even her mother. So, the Race comes confidently because she is a Black young girl. Gender creates the dominance in the society also. Especially women have been ill-treated with the help of Gender and Race. Black women are restricted from doing anything. And they are not only suppressed by the whites but also by Black men.

The Black community people are considered to be dark. It not only describes the color but also their life. They have a lot of problems managing their life; they are suppressed economically, and politically in society. Celie is always afraid of her male also, and says, “I think about Nitte dead, she fights, she runs away, what good it does? I don’t fight; I stay where I’m told. But I’m alive”. After a long time, tales she overcomes her fear and realizes her freedom with the help of her black friends and her sister. They had a lot of feelings in their life but never expressed them. Their education gives the empowerment of African-American women. The Black women’s history represents the history of empowerment. It is not the easiest one to fight against society. They have always struggled against things such as racism and sexism. On the other hand, identity has been restricted to Black people. In America, Black people are treated as slaves, when the feminist movement started, they didn’t allow their color.

Racism is always coming under the diversity of the world. If they take the society level, they have seen a lot of status. Some of them are called high and rich people, and some of them are called low and middle people. This diversity explains the help of their economic status. Racism is always coming under this. It not only reflects the low and high people but also explains the superiority of white people. This novel The Color Purple also defines racism. It gives more importance to the Black people. Mr.__is a great example of this chapter because he explains to his son, that he shouldn’t give any reputation in his life. After all, they are called slaves. This habit represents the unwillingness to accept black people’s freedom.

This thesis clarifies people's minds, especially pointing out the White people’s intentions. And how they are treated as Black people as a slave. Religion has also an important role in the novel. Celie is uneducated and closely related to God. So, she doesn’t know who God is and Where he is. So, she realizes that God is a White person. Shug is a good helper for Celie. So, she explains who God is. She said it was a delight. But she does not understand, because she has the only way to express their feelings to God. She is a faithful daughter of God because most of the themes aid, God is seen as a white person. She says that God has not come under the category of Religion, race, and Gender. She does not talk about whites and the Black because she stops her thinking. And the final chapter, he expresses their God as a symbol of whatever she likes. It means she expressed God as a “Dear dog, Dear star, Dear street.

Violence is also another theme of the novel. The very first violence appears in the beginning scene. In the first scene, Celie’s stepfather rapes her without her permission because she is a nearly 14 years old black girl. The second incident happened in her sister Nitte’s life. Celie has a lot of problems to struggle with the society. So Celie gives protection to her sister. Mr.__’s first wife planned to kill her boyfriend. Mr.__ explains the violence to the son and gives some demos also. Celie is beaten by her husband and says, it is a duty of every man. Mr._'s first wife is killed by her boyfriend, this incident happens in front of their children. In the 18th century Racism, gender, and Violence were accompanied by each other. As Barbara Christian observes, “Like the images of a kaleidoscope, these elements are so organically connected that one must understand their interrelationship despite their ever-shifting appearance. (Black Feminist criticism, 79)

These concepts are affected by the White people, especially the women. Sexism is a significant one at that time. They are physically, and mentally suffered by the White people and the Black men. In the 18th century mostly they were called the dominant figures, because they had to face a lot of problems in their daily life. They want a beautiful life and they want to wear some ornaments but these things are also restricted by society.    

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Essay on Racism in ‘The Color Purple’. (2024, April 18). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 14, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/essay-on-racism-in-the-color-purple/
“Essay on Racism in ‘The Color Purple’.” Edubirdie, 18 Apr. 2024, edubirdie.com/examples/essay-on-racism-in-the-color-purple/
Essay on Racism in ‘The Color Purple’. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/essay-on-racism-in-the-color-purple/> [Accessed 14 Jul. 2024].
Essay on Racism in ‘The Color Purple’ [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2024 Apr 18 [cited 2024 Jul 14]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/essay-on-racism-in-the-color-purple/
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