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Essay on Abuse of Women in Alice Walker's Color Purple

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The Abuse of Women in The Color Purple

Alice Walker's The Color Purple is an excellent account of the life of poor black women who must suffer not only social ostracism due to gender and skin color but also women who suffer greatly at the hands of black men. This is true in terms of infidelity, physical and verbal abuse, and sexual abuse.

The Color Purple revolves around the life of Celie, a young black woman growing up in the poverty-ridden South. In order to find herself and gain independence, Celie must deal with all manner of abuse, including misogyny, racism and poverty. When she is a young girl of just 14, Celie is sexually assaulted by a man she believes is her father. She has two children by her rapist, both of who
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In other environments she must play a role. With Celie, she is able to be herself. Celie, too, benefits from her nurturing relationship with Celie. Shug is used to a living a life that had about as much nurturing and love in it as Celie's. She says of her mother, "Mama never love to do nothing had to do with touching anybody, she say. I try to kiss her, she turn her mouth away. Say, cut that out, Lillie" (Walker 125-26).

However, the pair forms a nurturing relationship in which they take care of one another. These days Shug is all about love, and touch and feeling. As Shug says of her love of cuddling, "I love to hug, period, she say. Don't need nothing else right now" (Walker 152). Celie learns from Shug how to care about people once more, including caring for herself. Celie begins this journey to independence and love of self and others through her relationship with Shug. At one point she and Shug have physical relations, but it is Walker's purpose to show this as a means of providing each other comfort, nurturing, and humanity - not as a display of homosexuality. The entire episode is treated in the novel as a nurturing act, akin to a mother compassionate mother nursing her needy child, "Then I feels something real soft and wet on my breast, feel like one of my little lost babies mouth. Way after a while, I act like a little lost baby too" (Walker 118). We can see in
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