The Color Purple

by: Alice Walker

Personal Voice

1

I make myself wood. I say to myself, Celie you are a tree. That’s how come I know trees fear man.

In Letter 13, Celie recounts watching Mr. _____ beat the children. She keeps herself from crying—or from crying out—by pretending she is a tree, unable to move or speak. She feels afraid for both them and herself. Her words here show how she suppressed her voice by retreating into her mind when confronted with brutality and cruelty. Retreating into silence functions as her coping mechanism.

2

You a lowdown dog is what’s wrong, I say. It’s time to leave you and enter into the Creation. And your dead body just the welcome mat I need. Say what? He ast. Shock.

During dinner at Odessa’s house, Sofia’s sister, Shug, and Grady announce their intention to go to Memphis and take Celie with them. Mr. _____ becomes furious at the prospect of losing Celie, whom he considers his servant. However, Celie has finally found her inner strength to express her feelings and decision to leave. This moment serves as a major turning point of the novel, at least for Celie. She has used her voice to stand up to her oppressor for perhaps the first time.

3

But I don’t think us feel old at all. And us so happy. Matter of fact, I think this the youngest us ever felt.

Celie’s expression of sheer joy ends the novel. Not only has Celie found her voice and her power, she has found her happiness. Her family is reunited, and her children are safe and well. She and Mr. _____ have made their peace and she is again with Shug. Celie realizes that the young people might think she seems old, but she doesn’t feel old. She feels younger than ever. Finding her voice and her joy allows her to experience a youthful, overflowing energy.