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The color purple is a novel written by Alice Walker and it entails a story of numerous women characters, who are joined by love for each other, the children they care for and the men in their lives. The book depicts how these characters were abused by the men in their lives, but eventually, these women team up to fight their inferiority. The abusive men in the novel are the immediate relatives of these women and they include fathers, uncles, spouses and husbands, who rather than taking care of these women characters, they abuse them by raping them, maltreating them and beating them (Rajguru, 5). This paper will outline an in-depth analysis of how feminism is depicted through abuses that the women characters experienced in the hands of the closest men in their lives considering that these men raped, beat and psychologically traumatized women. The paper will also look at how these women overcame the male dominance syndrome by defying inequality and fighting for their rights.


The novel depicts both African and American women struggle, who aimed at gaining recognition as people who deserved equal treatment from the male counterparts. According to the author, men dominated the world and women were perceived as inferior beings who deserved nothing positive from their male counterparts. This explains why sexual abuse was among the daily norms in the lives of the women characters. For instance, Celie the main characters in the book was a black woman, who was raped continuously by the man he believed for a long time as his father. The novel depicts this when Celie claims that “He [Pa] never had a kine word to say to me. Just say You gonna do what your mammy wouldn’t. First he put his thing up gainst my hip and sort of wiggle it around. Then he grab hold my 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. But I don’t never get used to it. And now I feels sick every time I be the one to cook” (1.4-5). The nasty incidences follow Celie along to her marriage because the novel depicts how her husband sexually assaulted her. The assault exhibits when Celie claims that the husband just did his business and after he was through, he went off to sleep”. Another character named Mary Agnes also faced sexual assault after she was raped by her white uncle when she approached the uncle to help her get Sofia out of prison. Therefore, the closest men in the lives of these characters abused them sexually, an aspect that depict how men were immoral.

Prior to sexual abuses, women also experienced physical violence, which had become the norm in the lives of the both the married and the unmarried women. For instance, the male character named Harpo continuously beat up his wife Sofia because according to him beating a woman was the most respectable thing a man could do.  This depicts when he claims that “Well how you spect to make her mind? Wives is like children. You have to let ’em know who got the upper hand. Nothing can do that better than a good sound beating.” Part 1, pg. 42.  Sofia’s conflict with the white mayor also leads to her physical abuse because she was severally beaten. The after math of her beating is explained by the other characters when they claimed that “”When I see Sofia I don’t know why she still alive. They crack her skull, they crack her ribs. They tear her nose loose on one side. They blind her in one eye. She swole from head to foot. Her tongue the size of my arm, it stick out tween her teef like a piece of rubber. She can’t talk. And she just about the color of a eggplant.” Part 2, pg. 87.

In addition to physical violence, women were exploited by being denied the rights to offer opinions like when to get married and whom to get married to; hence they were shoved around like animals et they were human beings with emotions. For instance, Celie was unwillingly married off to Albert, who was widowed and had children. This meant that Celie had no obligation but to look after Albert’s children, work on the firm and submit to all of Albert’s demands. The character is also psychologically exploited because she was forced to accept Albert’s affair with a mistress named Shug Avery. The experience was extremely humiliating to Celie because the affair reached an extent that the two lovers slept under the same roof with Celie.  Celie’s humiliation also depicts when her husband hides the letters sent to her by her sister, who worked as missionary in Africa. The husband perceived that Celie had no business learning about her sisters progress because it made no much difference to a woman whose place in the society was to take care of the home and abide by the husband’s rules. Al, these aspects depict how men demeaned women and used all the measures possible that included sexual, emotional and physical abuse to make them feel inferior.

Female character struggle towards recognition

Irrespective of the oppressions the women characters faced, they managed to team up and fight against their inferiority context tagged on them by the men in their lives (Nobengo, 1). This recognition began when these women realized that the white people valued women and treated them fairly. This is shown by Nettie’s words, when she asserted that “Oh, Celie, there are colored people in the world who want us to know! Want us to grow and see the light! They are not all mean like Pa and Albert, or beaten down like ma was. Corrine and Samuel have a wonderful marriage. Their only sorrow in the beginning was that they could not have children. And then, they say, ‘God’ sent them Olivia and Adam”. Part 3, pg. 124. This realization strengthened the women’s’ hopes of liberty because the novel exhibits that these women formed a team with an aim of fighting for liberty. Contrary to forming a strong team, the women supported each other and put up all strategies to ensure that they sustain each other throughout the novel. For instance, when Sofia is imprisoned, Mary Agnes endures rape for her sake because she was raped while finding help to release Sofia from prison. More so, Sofia later on takes care of Mary Agnes child, when Mary Agnes goes off to sing. Celie also takes care of her sister Nettie, from their fathers sexual abuses and manages to nurse Shug until she regains her health when she feel ill.

Prior to supporting and sustaining each other, some of the women in the novel learnt to stand up and fight for themselves. Among these women is Sofia, who the novel depicts as strong and daring because she talks back to the white mayor and ends up in prison. Shug Aver is also a liberated woman, who shuns off the church leaders attacks on her lifestyle. Shug further goes to be a blues singer and freely encounters numerous affairs because no one restricted her. Celie and her sister Nettie also end up liberating themselves from the cages of abusive men because they inherited their fathers’ property; hence acquiring financial freedom and social liberty.


The author of the novel depicts feminine inferiority in the society especially on the black woman because according to the characters conversations, the white counterparts treated women fairly. This means that as much as men dominated the world, the white women were granted a chance to freely exercise their rights, which was contrary to the black woman’s world, where men saw them as inferior beings, who deserved nothing better that sexual assault, violence and other aspects of humiliation (Nobengo, 1). Nevertheless, the novel depicts that exposure granted these women a chance to realize that their white counterparts believed in gender rights. This realization pushed the women to fight for their rights by demanding recognition and liberty, two crucial aspects that they managed to attain in the latter stages of the novel. Therefore, the black woman has had a hectic journey towards liberalization, which is why she deserves royal honor, which aligns with the purple color.

Work cited

Nobengo, A. The Representation of 2nd Wave Feminism in the Color Purple. 2013. Word Press.

Rajguru, S.P. 2014. Concept of Feminism in Alice Walker’s The Color Purple: An Analysis. International Multidisciplinary Research Journal. 2014. 1(10), 1-8.

Walker, A. The Color Purple. Orlando, Harcourt. Amazon. 1982. Print.

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