The story is mainly focused on the narrator, Celie, a fourteen year old girl who begins writing letters to God because he is the only person she feels like she can confide in. Throughout the story Celie struggles with her life as she ages. As a young girl Celie was repeatedly raped and beaten by her father, Alphonso. At a young age Celie had already encountered two pregnancies as a result from her father’s rape. Both babies were taken away by her father soon after they were born. Celie believed that her father had killed at least one of them, but she later learns that he sold her babies to a couple in town. In a letter to God she noted, “Dear God, I am fourteen years old. I have always been a good girl. Maybe you can give me a sign letting me know what is happening to me” (11). Celie is also constantly subjected to verbal abuse and told she is ugly, worthless, and not wanted for anything but sex, but yet she was still too young to understand what was happening to her. She figures that the only way she can ensure her survival is by doing the best she can to be invisible and silent. At the age of fourteen Celie had been working very hard taking care of her little brothers and sisters, but started noticing her father looking at her little sister Nettie the same way he looked at her, which she feared would happen. Celie’s father made her marry a man, “Mr. ___” who later we find out is named Albert. Albert’s first wife had been murdered and he too felt the need to abuse Celie. He married Celie to pretty much be his slave, watch his children, and do all the chores. Albert treated her just the same as her father did. Celie disliked his children a lot, except for one boy named Harpo. Celie still kept to writing God, being that he was still the only person who she could confide in.
Nettie, Celie’s sister is one of the few women who molded Celie into being a different person, a stronger person. At such young ages the two young girls are forced to be faced with unusual circumstances. Usually sisters are encouraged to be close and remain close, but they are forced to separate. Despite being separated they were able to maintain their love for each other. Nettie wrote to Celie from all over telling her how life is as a missionary as they aged. It wasn’t until way later in the story that Celie found out her husband has been hiding them from her. As sisters they were very much alike with all their beliefs’ and opinions that they shared. They both had to deal with very intense situations and problems during their lifetime. On the outside Celie and Nettie were two opposing people, being that everyone thought Nettie was so beautiful and Celie was always being called ugly. The two sisters were also treated so differently, and reacted very differently to things they were faced with. “When Nettie’s infancy is compared with Celie’s, it is obvious that each is born into a “different family” and that each has a strikingly different developmental history.”(Proudfit). Nettie is strong being that she doesn’t let people walk all over her and she is not afraid to stand up for herself. Celie on the other hand let her father, husband and his children walk all over her and she never once stood up for herself in spite of getting beat. In some sense even though she just stood back and tried to be invisible to avoid getting abused she was still a very strong person on the inside. Anyone who could repeatedly get raped and abused and still be sane is an incredibly strong person even though she doesn’t show it. Their opposing reactions to tough situations, I believe, strengthened and helped them to encourage each other to get thru it. Throughout the story it is shown that it is impossible to break their love for one another, which plays a big role in the transformation Celie makes for herself.
Sophia was Celie’s step-son, Harpo’s wife. Sophia was a large and a very independent woman who soon befriended Celie. When Harpo thought husbands were naturally supposed to beat their wives and make them listen, Sophia quickly fought back and put him in his place. She would not put up with anything and she expected everyone to be treated the same. It bothered Harpo because he thought she was not letting him be a “man.” Sophia soon left Harpo because she was tired of him trying to slap her around. “It is by measuring Sophia’s audacity against her own submissiveness and by witnessing Sophia’s surprise at her attitude toward life (“You ought to bash Mr.–head open, she say, Think bout heaven later” ) that Celie begins to question her own passivity and recognize the irrepressible force of her emotions(Leder). “I’m jealous of you,” Celie tells Sophia, revealing for the first time the emotions hidden behind her letters to God. “You do what I can’t … I’m so shame of myself, I say” (42) (Fiske). Later on in the story Sophia comes back to Harpo’s new “” with her boyfriend. Harpo sees her and goes to her and his new girlfriend (squeak) gets jealous and started yelling and cursing her, Sophia just reared back and knocked out her side teeth and left. It never fails that she shows how much refuses to take orders or to be slapped around and stands up for herself. Shortly after that incident she fought against the towns mayo which got her placed in jail for 12 years. Sophia taught her to never back down and never be scared to fight for what you believe in and for what you feel
Shug Avery ended up playing the biggest role in transforming Celie’s outlook and feelings on how women should be treated and respected. In the beginning of the story when Shug Avery was just introduced, I felt as though she was a very negative person and would absolutely no good for Celie. As a woman she has a reputation of dubious morals. Many examples were shown on her outfits which proved that she always dressed scantily. The story also depicts that she has some sort of nastiness and had even been spurned by her own parents. Celie immediately felt something for Shug and saw more in Shug than anyone else except Albert. When Celie used to look at Shug’s photograph, not only does Shug’s beautiful and glamorous appearance, but Shug also reminded Celie of her “mama.” Celie was really and truly amazed by Shug. In the beginning Shug Avery was very negative and didn’t like the idea that “her man” was married to this “ugly” girl. When Shug Avery became sick, Albert took her under his wing and cared for her as though she was his wife and she moved in with Celie and Albert. Throughout the story Albert treated Shug as though she was held high on a pedestal and treated like a queen. Celie admired her and also wanted to wait on her hand and foot. Throughout the story Celie and Shug ended up having the closest relationship and Shug was the one who inspired her the most. When Shug learned that Albert would beat Celie, Shug was so enraged and told him he better not ever think about it again. Shug had Celie start sowing stuff and eventually had her even open her own pants business. Shug showed Celie that she does not tolerated being dominated by anyone, especially men. Shug fills the roles of being a mother figure to Celie in many different ways. Shug taught her to be just as confidant as Shug was herself. Shug also ended up being Celies main lover and her only lover at that, since Shug taught her about her body parts and showed her how different ways of touching them would send sensations to her. Shug and Celie slept many of nights together. Shug was also a saver to Celies relationship with her sister since she was the one to give Celie all of her sister’s hidden letters that Albert wouldn’t give her. Shug was also a teacher to her, not only by the sexual things she taught her but also taught her it was okay to do the things she wanted and that end the end you can only try to make yourself happy and no one else. Out of all the things Shug has taught her the role of being a friend ended up meaning the most to Celie. Shug played many roles which made her sort of unpredictable. Shug was one of the most important and loudest character in the story. Shug took Celie with her when she traveled to different cities and also took her with her to leave Albert and live with her at her home when she finally wasn’t sick anymore of different cities. “The blues woman, whose song is true to her own experience and rooted in the values and beliefs of the community, empowers those who love her and effects change in those around her. Her outer struggles and inner conflicts reflect issues of oppression in society as they have been internalized within the community” (Johnson). Despite Shug’s unpredictable nature and how much she shifts roles, Shug remains Celie’s most constant friend and companion throughout the Story.
Each of the women talked about in this paper are extremely strong, courageous, and most importantly independent. Celie never would have been her own person if she didn’t get the support and the confidence from them to be herself as a person. She had always lived a life of being who the men figures made her, rather than who she wanted to be herself. “This “female bonding,” which occurs over an extended period of time, enables Celie–a depressed survivor-victim of parent loss, emotional and physical neglect, rape, incest, trauma, and spousal abuse–to resume her arrested development and continue developmental processes that were thwarted in infancy and early adolescence.”(Proudfit) “These processes are described with clinical accuracy; and, as they are revisited and reworked in Celie’s interactions with appropriate mother surrogates, Celie is enabled to get in touch with her feelings, work through old traumas, and achieve an emotional maturity and a firm sense of identity that is psychologically convincing”.(Proudfit)