In the novel The Color Purple, the writer Alice Walker depicts life’s hardships that a black American female teenager of 1930s was doomed to face. The novel is written in the form of a diary through which a black woman communicates with God since she does not have anybody else to confide her secrets to. At the beginning, the protagonist Celie has a strong faith, but with time it weakens because of the numerous cruel and unfair events that took place in her life. The main character is a poor fourteen-year-old, who lives with her mentally unhealthy mother, violent stepfather and young sister. Hence, it is naturally to presume that she is at a risk group in terms of being abused. Throughout the book, Alice Walker reveals the unconcealed scenes of violence that trigger great emotional distress and anguish of the young heroine. In this way, the author displays significant social issues, such as domestic violence, minors’ pregnancies, complexity of homosexual relations and the discrimination by gender and race. This set of problems remains topical in today’s world. Thus, the present story evokes immense readers’ response, for instance, the feeling of being familiar with the heroine’s experiences and high emotional involvement in the situation.
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Probably the most important issue that cannot be apprehended indifferently is domestic violence. Considering the case, The Color Purple describes how the main heroine would be raped again and again by her stepfather (Walker 1). What makes the things even worse is that the girl believes that this man is her biological parent. Besides, as a result of sexual assault, Celie has two children that are taken from her and given away for adoption. Probably, it is not possible to depict stronger example in order to draw public attention to the problem of child abuse, domestic violence and minors’ pregnancies.
Preceding the topic of family violence, Alice Walker depicts the scenes of beating emphasizing the unfairness of this situation. Searching for solace, Celie writes to the Lord revealing the cruel attitude of her stepfather. The girl confesses, “He beat me today cause he say I winked at a boy in church. I may have got somethin in my eye but I didn’t wink” (Walker 6). Unfortunately, in the modern world, the problem of child’s abuse remains relevant. Therefore, it was the right decision of the author to enhance public awareness regarding this issue, portraying an uneasy life of the black American woman.
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What is more, Alice Walker accentuates that becoming a victim of male violence, the protagonist directs her affection towards females. For instance, the woman explains her feelings to God, “I look at women, tho, cause I’m not scared of them” (Walker 6). It is natural to assume that sexual assault, beating and other forms of mistreatment and humiliation that came from Celie’s stepfather and later from her husband played a decisive role in her life. To be more specific, this experience altered her sexual orientation. Apart from that, the writer describes private relations of the main heroine and the subject of her interest, Shug. Walker reveals the internal feelings of the main character, aiming to display Celie’s suffering caused by the unshared love: “My heart broke. Shug love somebody else” (Walker 254). The author depicts homosexual relations between two women as an alternative to the heterosexual relationship emphasizing their plausible good and bad sides.
Besides, in contrast to emotionally weak Celie, who did not have the power to withstand males’ assaults, Alice Walker describes the bravery of Celie’s relative, Sofia, who is not afraid to struggle for equality with her beloved husband. The courageous female complains, “I ‘m gitting tired of Harpo. All he think about since us married is how to make me mind. He don’t want a wife, he want a dog” (Walker 68). In this way, the author makes an explicit assumption that every woman is supposed to stand for her rights and be ready to protect her interests and dignity whatever it costs.
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The novel of Alice Walker arouses numerous social issues of the United States. It is noteworthy that a lot of shortcomings remain disturbing and alarming in the modern American community. Therefore, it is possible to presume that by writing her book The Color Purple, the author found a relevant way to increase public awareness regarding the importance to admit the flaws of today’s society. Among the major issues, revealed in the novel, one can distinguish family violence, male assaults, underage’s parenting, gender and/or racial discrimination, and struggle for equality between homo- and heterosexual relationships. Undoubtedly, such literary work encourages readers to be more sympathetic and protective about vulnerable population.