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The Color Purple Psychoanalysis

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Kaelyn Dickinson

on 29 September 2013

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Transcript of The Color Purple Psychoanalysis

The Color Purple Psychoanalysis
Background Information
The Color Purple was written by Alice Walker. The era of the book is from 1909 to 1949. Celie Johnson is the main character. She is a Southern African American woman who was sold into the life of servitude to her abusive husband, "Mister" formerly known as Albert. Celie's pure innocence is stolen and her self esteem is shattered. Several characters in the novel guide her to escapism. This escape is from Mister and the ideals of "she cannot, she will not, she can't because she is nothing". Celie learns her value and escapes her mental, emotional and physical prison.
"Everythang want to be loved.Us sing and dance and holler , just tryin' to be loved".
Celie grows up an innocent child however, her innocence is stolen when her father repeatedly rapes her. The incestuous acts produce two child who are sold for adoption. Interestingly Celie was not the only female child; She had a sister Nettie. Celie's father never sexually assaulted Nettie because her skin was lighter and hair was longer. These qualities made Nettie the favorable and smarter child. Consciously Celie's father knew Nettie would have a promising future. Nettie and Celie are two halfs that make up Alice Walker as a whole.
Tea to the English is really a picnic indoors
The Ego
Celie represents Walker's Ego and Nettie represents Walker's Superego. As a child walker was viewed as being "black", lacking beauty or potential as a southern housewife. initially, Walker was childlike until she experience trauma which caused her to go into a state of isolation. She was very shy , quiet and kept a lot on her mind because she couldn't discuss personal matters with her family. Walker felt like an outcast and barely spoke. Her only escape was through reading and writing. These similarities can be seen in Celie whom from childhood until mid-adulthood exemplifies the same characteristics, behaviors and personality traits as Walker. Gradually throughout the book Celie strives to fin her identity and personality. She discovered that she was no longer restricted to what people said she was. Walker parallel to Celie realized the only person who can limit you is yourself.
Background info
Nettie represents Walker's Superego. However in Nettie's character parts of Walker's ID are shown too. Initially, Nettie is juvenile. She is very youthful, charismatic and extremely encouraging to her sister Celie. Walker lost her zeal when she was traumatized by a BB gun. However, Walker's escape was through her education, writing and reading. This unravels Nettie as the SuperEgo. Nettie's character is parallel to Walker's because she is literate (Celie is not, yet). Nettie's escape is through reading books which stirred her imagination. Nettie's escape out of the south was through her education. This too was Walker's escape out of the south. The morals and values of Nettie are well established. She knows right from wrong . Her rights and wrongs aren't swayed by the judgement of people. This identifies Walker's superego through Nettie.

The Super Ego
"I don't say nothing. I think bout Nettie, dead. She fight, she run away. What good it do? I don't fight, I stay where I'm told. But I'm alive.”

Mister and Celie have a strained relationship in retrospect they are familiar strangers. Mister only married Celie because he needed a wife and Celie's father would not allow Nettie to be sold. Mister treats Celie like she is a child not his wife. He belittle her and degrades her. Walker says, Mister derived from her grandfather.The relationship and actions between these characters shows a split and conveys that two are not "one". Mister views Celie as his possession and Celie views Mister like her father. It can strongly be inferred that Alice Walker portrayed this particular relationship because it was a personal experience she saw at her grandfather's home and possibly hers too. During the 1900's Celie and Mister's relationship were common in the south this reveals Walker based their relationship on her personal perspective, growing up as as a child in the south.
Shug Avery was Mister's mistress who later lived with Celie and Mister. She was the tempress of the town. Mister was infatuated with her and Celie too. Shug helped Celie find her inner and outer beauty. She helped Celie gain a self confidence about herself she thought she never had. Although she was the temptress she helped Celie gain a new confidence and esteem.The relationship between Shug and Celie is one a mother and daughter may have or a Mentor mentee relationship. Shug was the woman Celie aspired to be. Shug Avery was the first person who helped begin Celie's route to escapism.
Mister & Celie
Shug Avery & Celie
Walker has displays many relationships in this novel. She shows a balance of successful to nonsuccessful relationships. In all the relationships displayed all the character know one another. Ironically, they are all connected as family in some way , shape or form. Through the usage of relationship Walker conveys that "blood" does not necessarily define people as family. She also conveys message that no relationship is perfect but, most relationships have problems but they also have solutions. The multiple arrangements of character relationships evolved preconsciously, consciously and unconsciously through her own personal relationships. The relationship with Nettie and Celie is her and how she grew into who she is now. The relationship with Celie and Mister display her grandfather and possibly her grandmother. Shug and Celie's relationship describe her relationship with a mentor. Celie's relationship with Sofia embodies Walker's relationship with her brothers.
The author's usage of southern Ebonics and slang indicates she wanted readers to understand the illiteracy of the people . Alice Walker wanted to emphasize their southern accent as well. She displays this with the grammatical structure of the sentences : "And sometimes it just manifest itself even if you not looking" or "What it do when it pissed off? I ast". As the novel progress Celie reads and writes more efficiently. Her illiterate, uneducated diction becomes fairly structured and grammatically correct. However, narrow-minded characters like Mister and Sofia allow their ignorance and inability to communicate enable them. Celie's growth and transformation is seen not only seen physically but through the usage of her words. Through her words Celie gains freedom because through reading and writing her narrow mind expanded. This uncovers Celie's new motivation to be free from Mister and find Nettie.
The imagery implies Walker's intent to convey the versatility of life. Every scene detectably depicts scenes relatible and identifiable to her life and the readers life. She captures religion , relationship drama, love , lust , passion, pleasure, hatred ect. However, one of the most important moments in the novel unveils itself when Shug Avery and Celie are talking. Shug says, "I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it," . Celie as if under arrest admits she has never observed these things. "These things" refering to the small detail or little things in life. After that conversation her character and life takes a shift. The authors intends to convey many messages through imagery but one specifically is little details can have great affects and great affects can come from little details.
Feminist Criticism
Alice Walker was born and raised during the time of Jim Crow laws and racism. Women During this time had no rights, African American men received more rights and privileges then woman. During Walker's time women were seen as a possession or an existing object not equal to men. In the Color Purple it is evident that men have complete power over their women. This can be seen when Mister verbally and physically abuses Celie. Also, when Harpo physically abuses Sofia. Both men aim to control their women by abuse. However, as time progresses Celie gains a voice, the voice that had been muted by men and society. Celie's muted voice evolves into a powerful one ; she realizes she has the power to control her life. Through this you can see Walker's perspective: The transformation and transition of the voice of African American women evolving through time. This relates to Walker's personal reality because Jim Crow laws muted the African American voice and the Civil rights Acts unmuzzled the voices of African Americans. However, Walker allows Celie to represent African American women like herself who persevered gained their voice through time. The character of Celie is mirrored after Walker. Celie represents Walker's struggles, how she overcame them and her victories. Walker's perspective through The Color Purple reveals she's a strong advocate for women's rights and independence.
Authors Emotions Through Female Characters
Through the Characters in The Color Purple Walker's widespread of emotions are revealed. Each character symbolized every emotion she felt at some point in her life.
Shy, bitter, angry , gullible, innocent, insecure, entrapped, fear and outcast. All these emotions Walker felt as a child because she did not feel beautiful and she did not feel wanted. Walker's emotions of bitterness and anger evolved from her resenting men in her life who controlled and manipulated her. She felt entrapped because society labeled and stereotyped without knowing her. Walker shows through Celie that her freedom was gained through her voice and the power of her words.
Confused, misunderstood, strong. Through Sofia Walker shows her confusion. Walker knew what she wanted but she was confused about who she was. Alice Walker also shows through Sofia how people misunderstood her before they knew her. Sofia was judged by her forceful persona and blunt speaking. Walker became Sofia to protect herself from people or things that could hurt her. She wanted people to be intimidated of her instead of walking over her.
Authors Emotions Through Female Characters Continued
Shug Avery
Sensual , seductive, mysterious, unloved, shameful. Walker reveals her emotions through Shug Avery in many ways. First, Shug has an identity, she knows who she is and what she wants. However, Shug desires for love but she looks for love in all the wrong places. Walker desires to know she loved. She wants to experience love and know what it is. Shug unveils Walker's emotions as a young adult. Walker's uniqueness makes her desirable , mysterious , sensual and seductive. However, Walker feels shameful because she had a child without being married. This is parallel to Shug Avery's story in the novel. Avery also, represent Walker emotionally because Shug uses music as her outlet to escapism. The only difference is Walker uses writing and eading as he outlet to escapism.
Carefree, happy, insightful, caring, helpful, educated. Nettie represents who walker was as a child and who she aspired to be. Walker was educated and insightful however, she lacked the happiness and carefree attitude most children possess. Walker yearned to be caring and helpful however, she did not know how to give emotions she hardly received.
In Alice Walker's The Color Purple many of the behaviors, personalities and motivations revealed by the characters stem from Walker's personal life. Through this evaluation Walker's psychological perspective is deposited in each and everyone of the characters. Every character is a familiar piece of her or someone she is close close to. The author reveals her evolving emotions and perspectives throughout her life. Through the main character of the novel (Celie) she advocates for the independence and education of women. She too, sends the message that women can free themselves from physical, metal and emotional abuse. Walker implies this is a personal diary of her life . Every character represents a piece that makes her a whole of who she is today.
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