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Symbolism In The Color Purple By Alice Walker

2077 words - 9 pages

Symbolism is one of the major elements in "The Color Purple" by Alice Walker. The woman's search for something she has never experienced is the symbolization of the mankind's search for love and happiness. The meaning of names, occupations, power, pants, cloth, words, eyes, frogs, starts, shell, stamps are only few examples of the symbols used by the author and are very important in understanding not only the characters of the story, but also global values such as love, power, mutual understanding, and authority over another person's life.

The purple color itself symbolizes love in the story. When Celie is shopping for the first time in her life for new clothes, she wants to get ...view middle of the document...

Sex is something Sofia is able to control and it empowered her to fight Harpo when he tried to reduce her to the status of an object.

Even the names of the characters are symbolic. It seems that the usage of names is the author's favorite way to identify how much power one character has over another. Celie is unable to call Mr.__ by his first name and lacks any power over him . The power of names is most vividly described in the relationships of Harpo and Squeak. As long as Squeak is called so, she is powerless to defend herself. Celie notices that Squeak is much like herself in actions and obeying. However, after being raped, Squeak points to Harpo that her name is Mary Agnes and demanding to be called so she asserts herself as an independent person demanding respect .

The occupations of characters also have symbolic meaning and represent not only the social status of each person but also the strength of the individuals. Sophia becomes a servant and is subjected to the status that Harpo has fought with her to achieve. She is the symbol of the indecisiveness which needs to be fought against. Shug is independent because she works for herself. She represents a confidence in life and is a strong individual . The similar independence is offered to Mary Agnes when she becomes a singer like Shug. Mary's decision is a symbol of ability to change one's own life and reach some goals. Celie is yet to find her occupation in life and remains in the servile position. She represents a search for better life and also some kind of weakness.

Suffering without becoming angry is one of the most unusual characteristics of Celie. She is even jealous of women who are furious if they feel wronged by the men. Celie simply accepts the things the way they are. Becoming angry is symbol closely connected with empowerment, since all empowered characters seen to be able to get angry.

Albert has been hiding Nettie's letter from Celie and they symbolize the pushing power which finally made Celie angry thus bringing freedom to her. Now she is able to put up with beatings, labor and loveless sex. Her anger is released in the desire to kill Albert; however it is converted into a sense of freedom and self-awareness.

The fact that Celie started to make pants for herself has two strong symbolic meanings: freedom of occupation and freedom of lifestyle. The occupational freedom is created by making something for herself, not for other people. Celie has obtained more individuality and freedom of lifestyle is achieved when she starts wearing the pants which make her look like a man. Pants are also connected with her sexuality. Changing clothes is another manifestation of the freedom. She is willing to put on pants because she feels more masculine than many males in the novel .

In addition, clothing is an important idea regarding the theme of identity. The clothes the people wear usually predict the role they are to take in life. For...

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