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A look at the literary devices employed by Alice Walker in creating the character Celie in the color purple

“It all I can do not to cry. I make myself wood. I say to myself, Celie, you a tree. That’s how I know trees fear man,” (23) uttered the protagonist of Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. Such words of meekness had been characteristic of Celie’s speech ­ that is, in the starting of the novel. As the novel progressed, nevertheless, Celie’s acquiescent behavior transformed into a single of resilience and dignity. By incorporating the literary techniques of tone, symbolism, and juxtaposition into her novel, Alice Walker was capable to create Celie’s character, emphasizing her progression from subservience to independence.


Tone serves as an important device in personifying a novel’s character. Such is the case in The Colour Purple. In her subservient state, Celie responded little, if at all, to the abuse she was exposed to. For instance, Celie stated in a despondent tone that whenever she had been forced to enter into sexual intercourse, she would apathetically yield, enabling either her Pa or Mr. ______ to “git up there and appreciate himself just the exact same. No matter what I’m thinking. No matter what I feel. It just him. Heartfeeling do not even seem to enter into it.” (69) Celie’s continual surrender was marked by hopelessness. She believed that resistance would only do to her what she believed it had completed to her sister Nettie: “I believe bout Nettie, dead. She fight, she run away. What great it do? I don’t fight, I keep exactly where I’m told. But I’m alive.” (22) Apparently, Celie believed that hoping for a passionate life of affection would only lead to her own demise. Thus, she hopelessly chose to reside an indifferent life of agony.

“I can not even remember the final time I felt mad… terrible feeling. Then I felt practically nothing at all,” (44) Celie recalled, speaking of how she entered into apathy. This apathy, even so, disintegrated towards the end of the novel upon her reception of Nettie’s letters. For the initial time in her life, she knowledgeable the feeling of resentment. This emotion was expressed brazenly when Celie responded to Mr. ______, “You a lowdown dog is what’s wrong… It’s time to leave you and enter into the Creation. And your dead body just the welcome mat I want.” (207) Her tone in articulating this statement was clearly not timid. On the contrary, it was exceptionally vindictive. A spiteful tone was once again emitted by Celie when, in response to Mr. ______’s verbal abuse, she uttered, “I curse you. Until you do correct by me, almost everything you touch will crumble… every thing you even dream about will fail. Each lick you hit me you will suffer twice. The jail you strategy for me is the one in which you will rot…” (213) The fact that Celie opposed Mr. ______’s abuse instead of merely accepting it substantiated Celie’s entry into independence.

Usually, authors employ the language device of symbolism to create particular ideas inside their characters. Pants, for instance, illustrate a direct application of symbolism. Trousers usually denote masculinity therefore, Celie’s incorporation of them into her wardrobe symbolizes her attainment of masculinity and ­ due to the fact the majority of the novel’s guys are portrayed as possessing this ­ dominance. But, the pants not only enabled Celie to turn into self-confident, but also to turn out to be self-enough. It was via her pants factory that Celie was in a position to obtain independence from monetary help from Shug and Mr. _____, in spite of the discouragements of Mr. ______: “You not receiving a penny of my money… not a single thin dime. Nothing at all up North for no one like you… All you fit to do in Memphis is be Shug’s maid… you nothing at all.” (208, 212-213)

In order to progress out of subservience, it was required for Celie to gain a sense of self-esteem. Celie was able to receive this by way of Shug’s religious notions. Shug was capable to instill in Celie the idea that God is an inward force that offers which means to almost everything that exists in nature, such as the unobtrusive color purple. Because the color purple is often unnoticed and neglected in fields, it symbolizes Celie in her submissive state. Right after adopting Shug’s religious ideals, Celie was in a position to completely appreciate nature. Moreover, Celie was so convinced that she possessed a bond with the earth that she believed she was able to “curse” Mr. ______ through the power of nature’s “trees, “air,” and “dirt.” (213-214) Accompanying Celie’s newfound appreciation for nature was Celie’s appreciation for the colour purple and, therefore, her own existence. This fondness was evident in Celie’s account of her room: “Everything in my room purple and red cept the floor, that painted bright yellow.” (291)

Symbolism also resonates in the way particular characters in The Color Purple are identified. Celie’s male counterparts, Alphonso and Albert, both established their position as the “king” of the household, possessing the women and young children as their inferiors. As an alternative of the designation of “King,” the titles of “Pa” and “Mr. ______” were borne, respectively. Becoming called by their 1st names by their “inferiors” would be regarded as an act of disobedience. As a result, the reality that Celie known as Mr. ______ “Albert” and acknowledged Pa as “Alphonso” signifies the eradication of their supremacy over her.

Juxtaposition functions as an efficient tool in emphasizing the similarities, or lack thereof, amongst two or much more individuals. In The Colour Purple, Walker employed this literary element to evaluate and contrast Celie’s persona with those of other characters. One person who parallels the subordinate Celie is Mr. ______’s son Harpo. Though “Harpo nearly massive as his daddy, [he] weak in will.” (29) Like Celie, Harpo was an object of Mr. ______’s abuse ­ emotional and physical. He was forced to function in the field throughout the entire day, “[sweating], chopping, and plowing.” (29) Celie even acknowledged their similarity when she stated “Harpo no greater at fighting his daddy back than me,” (29) admitting to the passivity of each Harpo and herself.

Harpo’s wife Sofia, however, entirely contrasted Celie’s character. Celie admitted to this when she wrote, “I like Sofia, but she do not act like me at all.” (38) Even though Celie struggled beneath the battering of Mr. ______ and Pa, Sofia chose “to fight [her] daddy… [her] brothers… [and her] cousins and uncles.” (42) It was she, not the male Harpo, who maintained the upper hand in her marriage. Because she, indeed, had the authority in the partnership amongst Harpo and herself, she represented the woman Celie longed to be ­ a woman who “can’t be beat.” (66) Like Sofia, Shug was a direct contrast of Celie’s character. She possessed talent, beauty, and, most importantly, authority over Mr. _______.

As the novel progressed, the similarity in between Celie and Harpo lessened, even though the contrast among Celie and Shug and Sofia became significantly less distinct. With the encouragement of Shug and Sofia, Celie was in a position to shun the submissive lifestyle that she and Harpo after lived. “You ought to bash Mr. _____ head open,” (44) Sofia urged, prepared Celie to break out of her passivity. At the identical time, Shug inspired Celie to view enjoy, life, and God with a new point of view ­ a point of view that impelled her to be “at peace with the globe.” (255) She also granted Celie the income she needed to establish her personal pants factory. The assimilation of the influences brought on by Shug and Sofia, thus, enabled Celie to turn into the individual she deserved to be ­ an independent, confident, and resilient lady.

“I’m pore, I’m black, I may possibly be ugly and can’t cook… but I’m here,” (214) Celie declared assertively towards the finish of Alice Walker’s The Colour Purple. Such words of audacity have been not always characteristic of the protagonist’s speech. In the early chapters of the novel, Celie clearly demonstrated a submissive temperament. Towards the end of the novel, even so, Celie accomplished a sense of self-respect. Alice Walker was in a position to effectively detail this achievement of independence by incorporating the language strategies of tone, symbolism, and juxtaposition.

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