The Color Purple

The Color Purple The Color Purple brought on its self a storm of controversy upon its publication. Critics charged Walker with focusing on the sexual oppression of black women at the expense of dealing with the overall oppression of blacks. However, Walker’s novel is a complex analysis of race relations and racial identity. Celies letters to God are the sole narrative for the first half of the novel. Celie is a poor, uneducated, Southern black woman. Her experiences are limited to a small geographic area. However, when she discovers her sister Netties letters after years of separation, Walker situates Celie’s narrative at the crossroads of a complex discourse on racial identity. Samuel, Nettie, and Corrine travel to Africa as missionaries. They naively expect Africans to identify with them on the basis of their race. However, Africans often associate them with other foreigners. They are not welcomed as long-lost brothers and sisters. The Olinka village where they work regards them with a mixture of contempt and indifference. They see missionaries as invaders who want to change their culture. Samuel and Nettie in particular want Africans to acknowledge their role in the slave trade that condemned their ancestors to a life of toil and misery in America. However, Samuel, Nettie, and Corrine do not acknowledge their complicity with European colonization of africa. Celie’s narrative provides a compelling contrast to the situation of African women. She suffers rape at the hands of her step-father and physical abuse at the hands of her husband. She is a Christian woman, but Christianity does not alleviate her problems. Moreover, the church she attends subscribes to restrictive notions of femininity. The women at her church stared judgmentally at her when she was pregnant with her two children. They condemn Shug Avery for having a sexually active lifestyle. They disapprove of her singing, he…

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