Free Study Guide for The Color Purple by Alice Walker Free Book Summary|
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Shug is another woman in the novel who knows the value of women's solidarity. When she finds how Albert has treated Celie over the years, she loses her desire for him and permanently erases him from her life. She then helps Celie and Mary Agnes escape their lives of domestic abuse and drudgery. In the process, she gives Celie a sense of her own unique beauty and spirit. Even Mary Agnes learns the value of women's solidarity. She comes into the novel first as the other woman, the girlfriend of Harpo. She treats Sofia poorly and wants Harpo to banish her. When they get into a fight, Sofia socks Mary Agnes, knocking out some of her teeth; however, when Sofia is beaten severely by the police in town and left wounded in jail, Mary Agnes tries to get her out and is raped as a result. At the end of the novel, when her daughter Suzie Q snuggles up to Sofia, Mary Agnes says, "children know goodness."
Walker places these first two themes inside the larger context of the misery inflicted by a racist society. Throughout the novel, Celie references the fact that she is discriminated against by the white community. Nettie dreads bringing Olivia and Adam back to America; because they have grown up in Africa, they have never felt or experienced racism. It is clearly racism that lands Sofia in jail. The mayor can slap her and go free, but when she socks the mayor, she is beaten and jailed. When Mary Agnes approaches the warden, her white uncle, about releasing Sofia, she is raped; the warden knows he does not have to worry about being charged with raping a black girl. When Eleanor Jane brings her baby boy for Sofia to bless, Sofia tells her she cannot bless him, for he will probably grown up to be her oppressor, like most white men. Then when Eleanor Jane helps to care for the black Henrietta, the white community is outraged that she would lower herself to be employed by an African-American. Walker clearly indicates in the novel that the long history of racism will be hard to overcome.
In chapter 73, Shug says that she believes that it angers God if a person walks by the color of purple in a field without stopping to notice and admire it. In this statement, Shug summarizes her religious philosophy; to her, God is not some distant deity living on high, but a genderless, raceless being that wants people to appreciate and enjoy life. It is also significant that she chose the color of purple, for it is the color of royalty; and yet a really deep purple seems almost to be black.
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TheBestNotes.com Staff. "TheBestNotes on The Color Purple".
. 09 May 2017