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Introduction

The idea of the female transformation is a significant theme in the novel The Color Purple by Alice Walker, who concentrates on the subject of emancipation to define the position of a woman in the society. The plot of the novel makes the reader plunge into reality based on injustice and cruelty because the protagonist needs to struggle to survive. Feeling as a slave, Celie even does not attempt to change her miserable life but follows her fate asking God for the appropriate support. Thus, Alice Walker demonstrates the most essential Celie’s transformation depicting her development as a personality from the existing oppression caused by her father’s assault and husband’s violence leading to independence and self-awareness.

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Life before Transformation

Childhood must be the most precious period of life, but Celie’s memories of her childhood refer to cruelty, rape, and injustice of her father. In the novel The Color Purple, Alice Walker illustrates childhood as the unhappiest time in Celie’s life, because her childhood is full of unpleasant events which will change all her life. In this case, “life of indignity and severe emotional poverty” turn a girl into a passive creature (Wasserman 301). Living in poverty, the girl also does not feel any father’s love as he pitches rude insults at her all the time. One day Celie’s mother becomes sick, and it changes all her life because of her father’s violence. He does not allow Celie to go to school and considers her a stupid creature compelling a girl to complete all the necessary household chores. Moreover, he invites his daughter into the room to cut his hair, but his intentions are dirty and immoral. It is evident that the man has neither moral nor spiritual values even not taking into account that Celie is a little girl. Father rapes her realizing that his wife is ill, and there is nobody who can protect the innocent thirteen-year- old girl. Unfortunately, Celie’s mother dies, and the girl becomes a poor victim of her father’s sexual attacks within several years.

Family and upbringing are an integral part of the society, but these issues bring Celie nothing useful except fears and violence she has to bear (Ross 71). Most fathers usually take care of their children and make considerable efforts to give them good education. They understand that education refers to literacy which opens the future and allows their children to get a respectable job in order to have all the necessary living conditions. However, these things do not have anything in common with Celie’s father as his definite prohibition to visit school makes Celie illiterate and gives him many opportunities to laugh at his daughter. The author reveals that after the death of Celie’s mother, her life turns into home slavery without any rights and liberties.

There is neither mutual understanding nor the appropriate support between Celie and her father who treats his daughter as a slave. Celie bears two children from her own father, but he makes a decision to get rid of children and takes them away omitting the fact that Celie will be broken-hearted. He does not care that there could be no more grief for a mother than to lose her children. Moreover, the man wants to rape another daughter, too. Therefore, Celie tries to keep an eye on her father, because she needs to protect her younger sister, Nettie, from him. She knows and even notices how “hungrily” he looks at Nettie day by day, inventing his treacherous plan to spoil another daughter’s life as well. As a result, “both Nettie and Celie are driven away from their family’s home” (Cutter 186). Thus, life with her father becomes a blank desperation that makes Cellie communicate with God in a hope to save Nettie and change her own fate.

There is no other way to survive with such a cruel father than to communicate with God daily. Celie starts writing letters from the very beginning of the novel, because God is the only one who she can be spoken to and trusted all her thoughts, as He sees everything what happens with her (Warhol 185). In fact, the protagonist does not really know what God means, and how He looks like, but she communicates with Him every day. Celie writes her letters and describes every part of her life, which is full of endless sufferings. She calls God “dear,” being sure that He always listens to her and understands her troubles. In this case, Celie maintains her sanity to survive in injustice and poverty. However, she represents God in an unusual way and says that He must be a white man with a white beard.

In this case, the reader does not understand why the main character uses exactly the white color, but she shares her fate with God. Certainly, it is difficult for her to imagine what gender God belongs to, but she does not hesitate that He exists and can save her soul. She also knows that He is close to her and will never hurt as her father. Moreover, Celie insists on such an idea that if she deals with men, she has many common issues with God as well. Thinking about God all the time, Celie sees Him even in nature, which does not bring any harm to her. Perhaps, God is associated with the kindness and love Celie needs as a human but has never had. Thus, Celie’s letters and her regular communication with God become her salvation.

The author illustrates human nature based on the cruel reality, in which there is no exact place for innocent Celie, and even a forced marriage makes the woman more miserable. Alphonso forces Celie to marry Albert, a cruel senior man without any slightest idea of how to respect a wife. In her marriage, Celie learns how to be submissive and quiet as there is no other choice to survive. She obeys her husbands and fulfills everything he orders even if it is against her will. In this case, it is too obvious that a woman changes her father’s slavery to another one and begins to work for her husband. Albert does not love Celie and beats her regularly, but she takes care of his children and tries to be obedient. She does not see any reason to fight, as life is meaningless and unimportant. Her children are far way, and it is unknown whether Nettie is alive or has already died. Thus, the main character obeys her wild husband and even does not try to oppose his violence in the marriage but blindly follows her miserable existence.

The Process of Transformation

Freedom is an integral part of Celie’s transformation as she intends to be far away from her naivety and constant oppression. Alice Walker portrays Celie’s life and her marriage with abusive Albert who does not respect his wife but insults her all the time. The author shows that Celie lives a poor life instead of being happy in her marriage. However, Harpo’s wife, Sofia, and Albert’s lover, Shug, influence Celie’s views and her general outlook. These women manage to encourage and inspire her dignity to understand that she deserve another life. It is evident that Sofia and Shug affect the protagonist’s perception of the current events as it is high time for her to alter herself.

Perhaps, Celie pays attention to these women and sees them in another light than she used to see being forced to suffer from her cruel husband. In fact, Celie becomes the witness of particular respect and assertiveness demanded by Sofia when Harpo follows his father’s piece of advice and begins to beat Sofia. As a result, Celie starts rejecting Albert’s abuse in contrast to the previous passive behavior of her own. She “asserts her freedom from her husband and proclaims her right to exist” (Ross 69). Moreover, the relationships with Shug also help her develop her self-esteem and allow her to learn to appreciate herself. Thus, female love and endless support of other women compel Celie to recover “her own history, sexuality, spirituality, and voice” (Walker).

An accurate representation of Celie’s development is writing. The form of the novel is epistolary, as the content consists of the private letters written by Celie to God. It seems that the style of the letters has much in common with Celie’s manner to speak and communicate with others. In this case, the style is vital, because it shows how the main character thinks, lives, and sees the world and the environment. The “childish brevity” and relative description of the murder without any emotions reveal Celie’s naive beliefs and misunderstanding of these horrible events which are appropriate for her.

Nevertheless, the novel has a constant progression, and Celie also grows according to her confidence and self-awareness, which influence her language improvement. She expresses her thoughts and ideas in a more literate way. It is possible to claim that Celie’s growth refers to education, the learning process of mastering the written language. It is understandable that Celie starts raising herself from the position of the existing poor underclass. Thus, in contrast to Celie’s previous acceptance of Albert’s insults, her eloquence, which is full of different statements, illustrates the power of her long transformation.

On the other hand, Celie’s writing to God transfers to a new kind of writing to Nettie. In this case, Shug makes Celie realize that God has neither gender nor race, and He cannot be white. She merely says, “God is everything” (Walker). Gradually, Celie begins to strays away from God’s power and prefers to write Nettie when she learns that Nettie is alive. Nevertheless, the last Celie’s letter relates to her dear God, and the reader sees that her attitude to God has dramatically altered. Undoubtedly, God seems to be an abstract figure, but Celie depends on Him due to his authority and power over people.

Eventually, the woman stops writing her letters to God, because she thinks that He does not listen to her requests and entreaty. In this case, it is Shug who explains and teaches the protagonist that it is important to believe in God and His boundless power. She means that there is no need to stop trusting Him as God will always love her. Shug also says that it is impossible to find God in church until a person passes his/ her belief through himself/ herself. Thus, Celie says, “Dear God. Dear stars, dear trees, dear sky, dear peoples. Dear Everything. Dear God” (Walker). These words prove that God is not only nature that surrounds her – He lives in everything including herself and Nettie.

Nettie becomes not just Cellie’s protector, but contributes to her literate transformation upon discovering her letters. In contrast to Celie, Nettie has a high intellect and has been capable of learning since her early childhood. Being too young, Nettie recognizes all hidden values of education as knowledge rules the world. It is evident that education assists Nettie in surviving and also helps Celie to long for self-improvement. Nettie’s letters seem to be boring and digressive, but their content shows Celie the vastness of the world and the existing people who set different goals in life and try to reach them.

Certainly, Nettie’s letters differ from Celie’s letters, but they make Celie struggle with injustice. Moreover, they inspire the woman to appreciate life concentrating on the sense of life and its meaning. Life is the most valuable thing on the Earth, and it is necessary to appreciate it as a God’s gift. Life is difficult for Celie due to her sufferings. As a result, she realizes the meaning of life when she learns that Nettie and her children are alive. Thus, Nettie’s letters teach Celie that life is not ahead, and it is necessary to overcome all the difficulties for the sake of children and their happy future.

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Celie also experiences a physical transformation despite the fact that the surrounding world considers her as an ugly person. Being convinced by Shug and Alphonso in her ugly appearance, the woman merely resigns her lot being unattractive. However, Walker mentions that the protagonist’s ugliness seems to be a result of the constant “shrinkage”. Certainly, step by step, Celie alters her self-esteem, and it influences her appearance as well, as her inner positive emotions give her much power and strength. The words “Now I know Nettie alive I begin to strut a little bit” prove that the appropriate conditions and Celie’s social environment led to her inner ugliness (Walker). Undoubtedly, it causes some misbalance between the appearance and mind, which is closely connected with sub-consciousness of the woman. On the other hand, Shug becomes Celie’s best friend and even a lover, who support her and explains that she must not allow her husband to violate her female rights.

Love is one of the most significant factors that cause Celie’s transformation based on freedom and female independence. It is true that “Everything want to be loved. Us sing and dance and holler, just trying to be loved” (Walker). Being an African American woman, Celie limits herself not just in feelings but in ordinary human needs. She depends on her spouse as she cannot earn money to live separately in order to avoid her husband’s violence. Nevertheless, a certain part of her life with Alfred and Shug helps her realize that she is a woman who also needs care and tenderness. Certainly, she needs much time to make her first steps to prove who she is, and what the meaning of her existence is. Celie gradually gets enough courage to combat her husband’s unjust behavior living in disgrace as a slave for so many years. Moreover, she even tries to carry out an accurate plan to kill her husband who is the reason of all her sufferings. It is a precise moment that shows Celie that it is too late to give up despite the fact that she has been passive all her life. However, Shug’s friendship and Nettie’s love make the woman fight and risk, though she still remains kind and can forgive people.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the novel The Color Purple by Alice Walker portrays Celie’s transformation which happens after many years of sufferings including violence and injustice. The main character does not know what father’s love means as he rapes her and forces to marry a man without love. In this case, it is evident that her childhood is spoilt, and her life resembles a nightmare that will never come to an end. Being an obedient wife, Celie bears her husband’s insults and mockery referred to her appearance. She does not have any person who she can trust except God as only He becomes her salvation in life. However, Celie changes her life thanks to Shug’s care and constant explanations about female rights leading to gradual Celie’s transformation. Undoubtedly, God and Nettie’s letters make great contributions to the woman’s development as a personality.

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