“The Color Purple” begins, “You better not tell nobody but ___”?

Alice Walker’s The Color Purple dramatizes African American women’s plight through the experience of a black girl, Celie, caught in the turmoil of the patriarchal system of her community. Leaning on the epistolary form and also choosing to address the black woman’s oppression first within the black community itself, the author detaches herself from the mainstream African American literary tradition to create a personal style. One of the characteristic traits of the novel is language as a communicative tool in the characters’ interrelation. In the narrative, this tool is mostly used to oppress the female protagonists, demonstrating thus its violent aspect. But sometimes, even though very rarely in the novel, it helps the oppressed subject to claim a voice. Finally, the epistolary form serves to create more emotion in the readers and consequently produces more reaction in them.

The Answer: The correct answer is God.

You better not never tell nobody but God. It’d kill your mammy ”: The Violence of Language in Alice Walker’s The Color Purple

After having so many children and now being ill, Celie’s mother will not sleep with her husband, so Celie is forced to take her mother’s place. When Celie has a child, her mother screams at her, asking who the father is. Celie can only answer that it is “God’s.” Then the child goes missing, and Celie tells her mother that God took it, though she knows that Alfonso did. Celie is pregnant again when her mother dies. Her second child, a boy, also is taken and sold by Alfonso.

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