The Personal Development of the Narrator in “The Color Purple”
The narrator tries to persuade God she has done nothing wrong and she asks him for a sign or answer to the events of her life, “I have always been a good girl” – “maybe you can give me a sign letting me know what is happening to me”. She begins to find out what her stepfather is really like to live with and the demands of his sexual needs, which she also as to meet, ” he never had a kine word to say to me” – “Your gonna do what your mammy wouldn’t”. The narrator only has a very vivid knowledge of sex, and therefore does not understand her stepfather raping her, “first he put is thing up gainst my hip and sort of wiggle it around”, “Then he grad hold my titties”. However she does know it is wrong and that she hates every moment of it:Stepfather: “You better shut up and git used to it”The Narrator: “But I never git used to it”.As a result of these rapes the narrator becomes pregnant. On page 3 there is a subheadingwhich reads, “You better never tell nobody but God. It’d kill your mother”. And at the start of the second diary entry (page 4) it begins “My mammy dead”, this seems to suggest the narrators stepfather has told her mother about the rapings and the baby? Her mother begins “screaming” and “cussing” at her. This give the impression that the story told could have been in the stepfathers favor and made to look like the narrator’s doing? Referring to the bottom of page 3 it says “She happy” (the narrator’s mother) this indicates she doesn’t know anything about any sex and/or raping that’s has occurred.After the death of the narrator’s mother the narrator is made to become the next motherly figure. She portrays this through the novel by explaining how big (pregnant) she is in terms of work and tasks within her daily life, “By time I git all the tray ready the food be cold”, “By the time I git all the children ready for school it be dinner time”. Both of these quotes refer to a typical mother’s life. It is evident form the novel the narrator is quite religious as she refers to God at the beginning of every entry, “Dear God”. She talks about God doing good things and evil for example when she tells her mother the baby is Gods an when the baby is taken away she says “God” took it.The narrators linguistic skills are displayed on page 4 were she begins set the text out like speech, e.g.”Don’t nobody come see us””She got sicker and sicker””Finally she ast where it is?””I say God took it”With this she shows her level of intelligence and degree of education, even though she hasn’t had much, what she has been tough she has retained. The narrator notices a change in her stepfather, “He act like he can’t stand me no more”. This indicates he only likes her when she is looking nice, this seems not to be love, but lust – “Why don’t you look decent”. At this stage in the novel the narrator is feeling strongly emotional because she as just given birth, her body is flowing with nature, “I of breasts full of milk running down myself”, ready to feed the new born.The narrator hates her stepfather because all her troubles relate to him and all she wants is for him to find somebody else, so she and her sister, Nettie are safe – “I keep hoping he find somebody else to marry”. Throughout her letters she keeps her faith in God and she turns to him for help when ever she need to, “I’ll take care of you with God help”. During the first three letters the narrator has been pregnant twice, this shows how frequently she writes the letters. This means when one is reading the novel things happen very quickly and each letter is full of significant events in the narrator’s life, – “he came home with a girl around Gray. She be my age but they be married”.The narrator seems to have some kind of feelings for her stepfather even though he as abused her from such a young age, “I think she though she loved him. But he got so many of us. All needing something” – this sounds like she has feelings for him. (not quite sure why?) The narrator is concerned for Nettie because she as a boyfriend and he has three children. With her witnessing her mother’s death coursed by a mixture of difficult children and her Stepfather she fears for Nettie, “It be more than a notion taking care of children ain’t even yourn. And look what happened to Ma”.Then narrator has been raped and beaten by her stepfather, “he beat me today”. She develops great abhorrence and hate towards him and men in general; “I don’t even look at mens”. She begins to make the connection between her suffering and male-stream domination. (Stepfather) With this she starts looking to the female gender for comforting thoughts, “I look at women. I’m not scared of them”.The narrator is thinking about her mother’s death and she blames her stepfather, “Trying to believe his story kilt her”. This quote can also be used to link the first part of the essay, when I connected the first comment on page 3 (letter1) with the beginning of the 4th page (ltter2). I suggested that the narrator’s stepfathers had twisted the facts about the rapes and pregnancy and the above quote seems to reinforce that analogy. If so, this would explain why the narrators mother was “screaming” and “cussing” her. In letter five the reader learns that the narrator is unable to have another pregnancy,Girl at church: “You get big if you bleed every month”The narrator: “I don’t bleed no more”This makes the narrator in some way relieved because after her mother died with stress from children and her husband I believe she feels more secure.When Shug Avery is mentioned in letter six and the narrator expresses immediate interest, “I ast out new mammy bout Shug Avery”. With this her stepmother gets picture of her and the narrator stair at it all night. It is obvious from the novel she likes Shug Avery, also she said she doesn’t look at man any more, but women. She seems to be going through a significant change in her life and quite easily the reader can work out that the narrator my be a lesbian. The narrator says Shug is “the most beautiful woman” she ever saw, she gives the impression Shug Avery is really special and almost sacred to her, “she be dressed to kill, whirling an laughing”.Letter nine the reader finally learns the narrator name is Celie! Which is a relief from referring to her as “the narrator” constantly. She tries to protect her sister from the stepfather by offering herself to him, instead of Nettie, “I ast him to take me instead of Nettie while our new mammy sick” – “I can fix myself up”, but he beats her and calls her “trampy” and rapes her anyway. This makes me think Celie feels she has nothing to lose because she has already been abused so much, but her sister is pure and Celie seems to be prepared keep it that way.Celie’s self-confidence is under attack when she over hears a conversation between her stepfather and Nettie’s boyfriend. She feels second best, useless and used when her stepfather describes her as “Ugly” and “Spoiled”, “it took him the whole spring from March to June, to make his mind up to take me”. I think Celie’s love for Nettie is out standing because all through the novel Celie tried her best to protect her, “she could come to me if I marry him”. Nettie is an intelligent girl and we have evidence of this in letter 7 were she makes the link between “Cucumbers” and “Columbus”. This is a significant indication to Nettie’s intellect and should be noted. In the novel there are many small phrases which have great significance.The men in the novel usually treat Celie with no respect and she gets used to being told what to do, “Mr. _________ want another look at you”. She is normally nervous when she is around men because she doesn’t quite know what their response will be. Celie goes in to town and she sees a woman holing a baby – Celie believes this is her baby. She begins to show great interest in the baby and she even notes the baby emotions, “She fretting over something. She got my eyes just like they is today. Like everything I seen, she seen, and she pondering it”. The baby’s “mum” tells Celie the baby is called Pauline, but she calls her Olivia. Then Celie tells the reader about the embroidery she did on the baby’s clothes – Olivia, The “mum” say’s she calls her Olivia because she looks holy. This seems a feeble reason for calling her Olivia and the reader begins starts to think the baby probably is Celie’s. Celie and the baby’s “mother” are having a conversation, Celie is really enjoying herself, however when the baby’s dad comes he stops the fun immediately and Celie is yet again left with another male negative encounter.In letter 11 we learn that Nettie comes to stay with Celie and her husband because she has run away from Alphonso. Nettie presence makes Celie feel more comfortable. Celie shows evidence that she still cares more about her sister than herself, “It nearly kill me to think she marry somebody likeMr.________”. Even though Celie, much of the time, is by herself she say’s “long as I can spell G-O-D is got somebody along”. Eventually Mr.________ realises he has failed to seduce Nettie and thrown her out, there is a dramatic plead to let Nettie stay but Mr. ________ ignores them and regardlessly splits the sisters up. This makes Celie feel lost unwanted and alone, because Nettie was the one who always passed on compliments to her and made her feel better about herself and intelligence.
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