The Color Purple

by: Alice Walker

Important Quotations Explained

1
Harpo say, I love you, Squeak. He kneel down and try to put his arms round her waist. She stand up. My name Mary Agnes, she say.

This passage is from Celie’s forty-first letter. Squeak has just returned from an unsuccessful attempt to release Sofia from prison. The prison warden raped Squeak, and she returns home battered and torn. However, Squeak is not defeated, and she makes an important act of resistance when she decides to reject the belittling nickname, Squeak, that Harpo has given her. She insists on being called by her given name, Mary Agnes. By renaming herself, Mary Agnes resists the patriarchal words and symbols that Harpo has imposed upon her. Walker repeatedly stresses the importance of language and storytelling as ways of controlling situations and as the first steps toward liberation. Just as Shug renames Celie a virgin, and just as Celie reverses Mr. ______’s words to say, “I’m pore, I’m black, I may be ugly and can’t cook. . . . But I’m here,” Mary Agnes renames herself to show her refusal to let the man in her life gain interpretive control over her.


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