?Social and Historical Issues .vs the Protagonist: The Color Purple
8th grade 3rd
5/ 18/ 18
Howard Middle School
The way of life now is much more diverse than life in the early 1900’s,
as the way people thought and beliefs on what is morally right was different. African Americans were treated as second class citizens and they didn’t have as many rights as they do today because of the “Jim Crow Laws” that were placed on them. They could not speak out on these issues and were often beaten for expressing their opinion. Women, no matter what their ethnicity or race was, were also treated unfairly. White women had it a little easier but the idea society had of what women can do or can’t do, was still the same, white or black. Society’s idea was that women were supposed to cook, clean, and take care of children. They weren’t supposed to do any recreational work that men would do. They were supposed to be “Lady like” in society’s eye. Women weren’t really expected to go to college and have a career as that was the job of man, to work. Women had no say in societal issues. Anything from political issues to simple social issues like choosing their spouse, as some women didn’t have a say in the matter. A lot of these racial and gender issues were dominant in the rural south. Alice Walker’s The Color Purple demonstrates these historical and social issues through the eyes of a young African American girl named Celie and her family. They have to face the racial and social issues in societies early 1900’s, rural south.
In The color Purple, the protagonist, Celie, and her family, were
impacted by the historical issues of society. These historical issues were Geographical and racial. The book states ” She went to visit her sister doctor over Macon.”(Walker 1) Also the book stated “He come here with a girl from Gray.” (Walker) These locations, Macon and Gray, were cities in Georgia, a south eastern state in the United States. Southern states had laws placed on blacks called “Jim Crow”, which were “laws were a collection of state and local statutes that legalized and enforced racial segregation.”(History.com) “Public parks were forbidden for African Americans to enter, and theaters and restaurants were segregated.” (History.com) these laws were placed on African Americans, not allowing them to sit near a white person. Blacks were often harassed, beaten, or put in jail for sit near a white person. Because the protagonist and her family’s location, discrimination was harsher. Many white southerners were racist towards blacks and their rights and personal freedoms were taken away from them. In the book the color purple, the mayor’s wife had made a comment to Sofia, one of the protagonist friends, “She say to Sofia, all your children so clean, would you be my maid?” (Walker 87) The mayor and his wife were white, so when Sofia, an African American woman, had said no to the mayor’s wife, the mayor slapped her saying that she disrespected his wife and put Sofia in jail. Blacks didn’t have any rights during this time, so an African American voicing their opinion and saying “no” to a white person was not tolerated. Blacks doing such thing got them beaten arrested, or even killed. These Geographical and racial issues impacted Celie and her family’s daily life in the rural south.
In the novel, The Color Purple, Celie and her family were
also impacted by social issues. These social issues were Education and gender. Education was a conflict for the protagonist. The book says, “You too dumb to keep going to school.” (Walker 9) Celie’s father was talking her because he thought that she was too dumb to go to school. Celie’s sister, Nettie, didn’t agree with her father and she felt that Celie should have kept going to school, but her father forced her to leave anyway. Celie was a woman, and at the time ideas and opinions of women weren’t supported. Some women were forced to do things they didn’t want to, but they had no choice, so they had to agree and do it anyway. If man told a woman to do something and she said no, the woman could end up being beaten or harassed. This was very much the case for the protagonist, in which the book says, “When Pa tell you to do something, you do it, he says. Whelm he say not to, you don’t. You don’t do what he says, he beat you.”. (Walker 62 – 63) Women were taken advantage of simple because of their gender. These gender issues were for both black and white females. People thought woman should, jut cook, clean, and take care your children. Women couldn’t do anything on their own because they didn’t have an abundance of freedoms, so they had to deal with these daily struggles. Celie and her family were beaten for for saying no to a man. These Educational and gender issues were the main social issues for the protagonist. Social issues impacted the daily life of the protagonists and her family, affecting her lifestyle.