Celies Rise Above Oppression



Celie’s Rise Above Oppression

From the year 1910 to the year 1945 the United States had undergone some of the most significant hardships. Within this time, the Great Depression took place leaving many people unemployed and many people left without food or proper necessities. There was also World War I, and the influx of foreign peoples to the United States. In the south, the major problem was racial tension. Although there was an emersion of African American culture, there were also serious problems such as segregation, the development of the Ku Klux Klan, and the invention of the Jim Crow laws. Another issue facing this time was sexism. Most of society believed that a wife was owned by her husband and she must obey and follow his rules. 1910 to 1945 were also the years in which The Color Purple, by Alice Walker took place. Celie, the main character, is an African American woman with great wealth, but of little importance due to the color of her skin. However, in this novel the racial and sexual hardships the oppressed (Celie) faces only makes her stronger.
The way Celie was treated as a child is a prime example of sexism. Her father had raped her several times infesting her with an incestual pregnancy. He did this as her mother was dying. This shows how the father saw women as an object, rather than human beings with a right to live, and live healthily. If this had happened this day and age I am sure that it would not have gone unnoticed. Consequences of such a disgusting crime would be harsh. As if this was not bad enough, her father gave her to Albert without any consent of Celie herself. He claimed that he would not give up Nettie, and that he better take Celie because she knows how to cook, clean, and take care of children. Albert therefore takes Celie without any wish of love, but with the prime consideration that she would be his property willing to take care of his land and children. This is absolute sexism.
Throughout the novel it is apparent that Celie is searching for love. It seems as if love would cure all her pain. She never finds love through the men in her life. Men in the south during this time period do not treat Celie as a woman to cherish, but rather a woman to be beaten when bad, and beaten when good. Men held a great superiority over woman during the entire duration of the book. The times in which women are stronger than men result in tragedy. For instance, when Sophia battles Harpo she apparently stands as the stronger one. She eventually ends up in jail for the same strength that made her superior. In the South during the years 1910 to 1945 there is no way to go around the sexism that presides. Walker does a nice job presenting this actuality. She shows it dominantly through Sophia’s tragedy. Sexism defines the time period, and although Celie is a main subject of this oppression, this helps her to find real love and the actualization of herself. In the end, it works out for her rather than lead her to a life of unhappiness.
It is a common saying that “what doesn’t hurt us makes us stronger,” and in the case of Celie I find that to contain great truth. In the beginning of the novel Celie has a great lack of self-esteem and a huge guilt for the incidents that take place with her “father.” She takes on this huge guilt because society’s beliefs have ingrained into Celie’s mind that it is always the women’s fault, and that men will always be superior. Toward the middle of the novel, the sexism gets stronger and Celie’s esteem drops even lower. Albert treats Celie as a possession and beats her consistently. She envies the strength of Sophia, and envies the strength of Shug. She also envies the love between Shug and Albert. She has always been a subject of emotionless sex, and an emotionless marriage. However, she has to face this because both her father and Albert have controlled her to the utmost point. As time goes