1. Briefly summarize the plot of the novel you read according to the elements of plot you've learned in past courses (exposition, inciting incident, etc.). Explain how the narrative fulfills the author's purpose (based on your well-informed interpretation of same).
The novel takes place in rural Georgia during the early twenties, when race and sexism was very much alive, especially among the African American Community. The novel consist of Celie’s letters addressed to God. The reader finds out about everyone and everything mostly through Celie’s eyes. A women who is hopeless and conformed with her way of living. Through Celie the reader is able to view how women were treated during this time period, and how the African American race struggled as well. We are taken on this journey from Celie’s childhood to her adulthood and how she is living in present day. The reader meets characters like Albert mostly identified as Mr._ Celie’s husband/partner, Nettie her younger sister, Shug a friend/singer/ Albert’s love, Harpo Albert’s older son, Sofia, and others. Throughout the novel the reader is able to see African American women with distinct personalities such as hopeless and desperate women like Celie, strong and feisty women like Sofia, educated women like Nettie, and famous woman like Shug. The men treat the women as if they were the lowest thing on earth, yet the man are treated the same by the Whites if they are African American. The novel enhances life in these difficult times.
2. Succinctly describe the theme of the novel. Avoid cliches.
The theme of the novel is sexism and racism toward the African American community.
3. Describe the author's tone. Include a minimum of three excerpts that illustrate your point(s).
The tone in the novel is very sincere and honest. Everything that is being said is stream of consciousness. Celie, the narrator is brutally honest.
Ex1) Pg.106 “Just a slap now and then when he ain’t got nothing else to do.”
Ex2) Pg.116 “Shug laugh and laugh when he got anything to say. Show teef and tits aplenty. Me and Grady try to carry on like us civilize. But it hard. When I hear Shug laugh I want to choke her, slap Mr._ face. All this week I suffer. Grady and me feel so down he turn to reefer, I turn to prayer.”
Ex3) Pg.109 “She say, I love you, Miss Celie. And then she ahul off and kiss me on the mouth. Um she say, like she surprise. I kiss her back, say, um, too. Us kiss and kiss till us can’t hardly kiss no more. Then us touch each other.”
4. Describe a minimum of ten literary elements/techniques you observed that strengthened your understanding of the author's purpose, the text's theme and/or your sense of the tone. For each, please include textual support to help illustrate the point for your readers. (Please include edition and page numbers for easy reference.)
Ex1) pg.1-Foreshadowing: “She went to visit her sister doctor over Macon. Left me to see after the others. He never had a kine word to say to me. Just say you gonna do what your mammy wuldn’t. First he put his thing against my hip and sort of wiggle it around. Then grab he grab hold my titties. Then he push his thing inside my pussy. When that hurt, I cry. He start to choke me, saying you better shut up and git used to it.”
Though this excerpt can be considered I say it also foreshadows misfortune, danger, and wrong, because it is presented to the reader on the very first page of the novel.
Ex2) pg.10-Point of view: “I feel bad sometimes Nettie done pass me in learnin. But look like nothing she say can git in my brain and stay. She try to tell me something bout the ground not being flat. I just say, yeah, like I know it. I never tell her how flat it look to me.
Ex3) Pg.99-Exposition: “Well, say Sofia, I was so use to sitting up there next to her teaching her how to drive, that I just naturally clammed into the front seat. She stood outside on her side the car clearing her throat. Finally she say, Sofia with a little laugh, This is the south. Yes ma’am, I say. She clear her throat, laugh some more. Look where you sitting, she say. I’m sitting where I always sit, is say. That’s the problem, she say. Have you ever seen a white person and a colored sitting side by side in a car, when one of ‘em wasn’t showing the other one how to drive it or clean it?”
In this excerpt of the novel we are exposed to the way the time period regulated what certain people could and could not do.
Ex4) Pg.106-Mood: “He ain’t beat me much since you made him quit, I say. Just a slap now and then when he ain’t got nothing else to do.”
The mood of the novel is hopeless, conformist, and desperate.
Ex5) Pg.108-Imagery: “But one time when mama not at home, he come. Told me he want me to trim his hair. He bring the scissors and comb and brush and a stool. While I trim his hair he look at me funny. He a little nervous too, but I don’t know why, till he grab hold of me and cram me up tween his legs…After he through, I say, he make me finish trimming his hair.”
Ex6) Pg.108-Flashback: “It hurt me, you know, I say. I was just going on fourteen. I never even thought bout men having nothing down there so big. It scare me just to see it. And the way it poke itself and grow.”
Celie is having a flashback of the time she was raped at fourteen years old.
Ex7) Pg.87-Stream of consciousness: “Dear God, Us all sit round the table after supper. Me, Shug, Mr._, Squeak, the prizefighter, Odessa and two more of Sofia sisters. Sofia not gon last, say Mr._.
The whole book is under stream of consciousness because Celie is writing to God.
Ex8) Pg.93-Lyric: Squeak sings,
“They calls me yellow
Like yellow be my name
They call me yellow
Like yellow be my name
But if yellow is a name
Why ain’t black the same
Well, if I say hey black girl
Lord, she try to ruin my game.”
Ex9) Pg.22-Pathos: “Harpo ast his daddy why he beat me. Mr._ say, cause she my wife. Plus, she stubborn. All women good for-he don’t finish. He just tuck his chin over the paper like he do. Remind me of Pa. Harpo ast me, How come you stubborn? He don’t ast how come you his wife? Nobody ast that.”
Ex10) Pg.1-Speaker: “DEAR GOD, I am fourteen years old. I am I have always been a good girl. Maybe you can give me a sign letting me know what is happening to me.”
1. Describe two examples of direct characterization and two examples of indirect characterization. Why does the author use both approaches, and to what end (i.e., what is your lasting impression of the character as a result)?
Celie-Pg.22: “I say, just born that way, I reckon. He beat me like he beat the children. Cept he don’t never hardly beat them. He say, Celie git the belt. The children be outside the room peeking through the cracks. It all I can do not to cry. I make myself wood. I say to myself, Celie, you a tree. That’s how come I know trees fear man.”
From Celie’s speech the reader knows that she has conformed to her way of living. She has accepted the beatings and racism because that is all she knows.
Shug-Pg.20-21: “Buy Celie some clothes. She say to Mr._ .
She say. It’s all right, Celie. You deserve more than this.”
In this excerpt of the novel we are presented with how sweet and tender Shug can be. She believes Celie is mistreated and she only wants the best for her.
Celie-Pg.20: “He look at me. It like he looking at the earth. It need something? His eyes say.”
The reader automatically know that by the way Mr._ treats Celie and how she conforms to everything she is a total rag doll. Her clothes is used, and very old. In fact she goes on to say how she has never had a dress made just for her ever before. Celie is described as poor and underdressed.
Shug- Pg.19: “Then she start having babies. And she young and pretty. Not so pretty, say Carrie, looking in the looking glass. Just a head of hair. She too black…say she wearing dresses all up her leg and headpieces with little balls and tassles hanging down, look like window dressing.”
We know that despite Shug’s nice moments in the novel, she is very different to what the women in the town are used to. She is different, therefore she is judged.
2. Does the author's syntax and/or diction change when s/he focuses on character? How? Example(s)?
For the most part the syntax and diction is consistent throughout the novel and the characters. The only unusual thing is that the language is African Slang so it can be difficult to decipher some words. The biggest difference is diction is probably between Shug, Sofia, and Celie. Shug and Sofia have a much stronger and aggressive way of speaking rather than Celie’s soft voice and calm word choice.
Ex1) Pg.30-Sofia: “She say, Naw, Harpo, you stay here. When you free, me and the baby be waiting.”
Ex2) Pg.108-Celie: “Soon talk about making love. Shug don’t actually say making love. She say something nasty. She say fuck.”
Ex3) Pg.111-Celie: “Wake up sugar, I say. They back. And SHug roll over, hug me, and git out of bed.”
In these three examples alone we know that Sofia is a tough women and she is very brave, Shug can be vulgar at times and very liberal, and as for old Miss Celie she is blindly ignorant, sweet and like a child.
3. Is the protagonist static or dynamic? Flat or round? Explain.
The protagonist Miss Celie is definitely a round character because she begins as this shy and uneducated women and ends up to be more independent and confident with her thoughts. As the novel progresses the reader is able to tell that not only is Celie letting her past go, but also growing as a strong African women. Shug is very helpful when it comes to helping Miss Celie find her identity and that freedom that she needed for so long.
4. After reading the book did you come away feeling like you'd met a person or read a character? Analyze one textual example that illustrates your reaction.
The fact that almost each page in this novel begins with Dear God, makes me feel like I am reading a diary, something very personal of whom it pertains to. In this case this novel is all about Celie and her life experiences. Every single page in this novel is an example of Celie’s reality. As the reader I was introduced to Celie’s innermost thoughts and actions, some of which I felt uncomfortable with and did not want to read of. Through Celie’s actions and words I got to know what she really is all about. What made me feel like Celie was alive and not just a character was actually the first page, because right of the bat I was introduced to her life and her struggle and it made me want to go back and time and help her…
Ex1) “DEAR GOD,
I am fourteen years old. I am I have always been a good girl. Maybe you can give me a sign letting me know what is happening to me. Last spring after little Lucious come I heard them fussing. He was pulling on her arm. She say It too soon, Fonso, I ain't well. Finally he leave her alone. A week go by, he pulling on her arm again. She say Naw, I ain't gonna. Can't you see I'm already half dead, an all of these chilren.
She went to visit her sister doctor over Macon. Left me to see after the others. He never had a kine word to say to me. Just say You gonna do what your mammy wouldn't. First he put his thing up gainst my hip and sort of wiggle it around. Then he grab hold my titties. Then he push his thing inside my pussy. When that hurt, I cry. He start to choke me, saying You better shut up and git used to it.
But I don't never git used to it. And now I feels sick every time I be the one to cook. My mama she fuss at me an look at me. She happy, cause he good to her now. But too sick to last long.”