The movie The Color Purple is about a young ugly uneducated girl name Celie who gives birth to a boy and a girl, both of which are by her father Alphonso. The children are taken from her to avoid Celie’s mother finding out about their affair. Eventually Celie’s mother dies, and her father continues to rape and abuse her. With so much despair she turns to her sister Nettie for genuine love and happiness. These two girls are inseparable. An older gentleman known as Mister has his eye on Nettie and asks Alphonso to wed her. Alphonso replies, I can’t let you have Nettie. She too young. But l tell you what. I can let you have CeIie. She oldest and shouId marry first. She ain’t fresh, but I expect you know that. She’s spoiled, twice. Celie is ugly but she works hard, and she can Iearn. And God fixed her. You can do what you like. She won’t make you feed or clothe it. But Nettie, you flat out can’t have. Not now, not never. (Spielberg, 1985)
Alphonso offers Celie instead because he wants to keep Nettie all to himself. Mister reluctantly accepts due to his chaotic household after the recent death of his wife. Celie is separated from her sister and starts a new life as a mother and wife to Mister. She is constantly abused mentally, emotionally, physically, and sexually. One day Nettie shows up and asks to live with Celie and Mister to get away from their incestual father. Mister agrees she can stay in hopes to eventually be intimate with her.
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Celie finally finds joy in life again after reuniting with her sister and they are once again inseparable. Nettie starts school and teaches Celie how to read. Eventually Mister makes a move on Nettie, but when she fights him off, he harshly kicks her off his property. Celie is devastated and as the months and years pass by without hearing from Nettie, Celie eventually thinks her sister has died. Shug, a sultry blues singer comes into town. Mister has had an infatuation with the woman for a long time. He allows her to walk in and out of his life freely. Shug and Celie develop a close relationship with one another. She feels bad for Celie when she finds out that she is being abused by Mister when she is not around, so she moves in. She comes across letters from Nettie that Mister has hidden from Celie for many years. This infuriates Celie and she even contemplates killing him. The letters from Nettie mention her moving to Africa and working with a man and woman doing missionary work. She later finds out that their children are in fact Celie’s children and their father is not their biological father. Celie eventually stands up to Mister giving her the confidence to leave him and move away with Shug. When her stepfather Alphonso dies, Celie moves back home and inherits his property. Nettie moves back to America with her new family and the sisters reunite after many years. Celie and Mister for once are cordial with one another. This shows great strength and growth of Celie, being able to forgive a man who has done so many horrible things to her.
The movie starts in the early 1900s in Georgia when racism was prevalent. There were also cultural norms in which men were superior to women. Celie had to be a submissive housewife to Mister. Her existence revolved around her husband and his children. Marrying girls at a young age was acceptable during this time, when now it would be considered illegal.
According to Bickley & Szilagyi (2017), Culture is the system of shared ideas, rules, and meanings that influence how the world is viewed, emotional connection to each experience, and how behavior is impacted based on relations to other people. It can be understood as the lens through which we perceive and make sense out of the world we inhabit. (pg. 84) Cultural norms vary based on many factors and conditions such as location, circumstance, race, and sex.
The Transcultural Assessment Model, developed by Giger and Davidhizar applies to the cultural aspects that are in the movie The Color Purple. Communication, social orientation, and environmental control all impact how African Americans and women were treated during the 1900s. Giger & Davidhizar discuss the importance of communication in relation to culture. It is the link that connects the world through interaction and behavior (2002). Most African Americans during this time, did not know how to read because they lacked a formal education. This created communication barriers, bridging a large gap between whites and blacks. Because women were inferior to men and whites, their voices went unheard. Poor communication skills were common amongst blacks.
Race, gender, family role and function are things that apply to Celie’s cultural back ground. As a black woman she had little to no rights and her role in the family was to take care of the children, keep the house clean, and do whatever her husband demanded without any say. In most industrialized countries, women were property of their husbands and/or fathers. After many years of inequality, women now have the same political and economic rights as men. (Fernandez, 2014)
During this time women like Celie had little control over her environment due to the cultural norms during this period. Her environment constrained her to a life of misery while it enabled and contributed to the poor behavior of Mister in how he treated and disrespected women. If there were consequences for domestic violence as there is today, women would not have endured such abuse. Bickley (2017) says culture is ever-changing and always being revised within the dynamic context of its enactment (pg. 83). After many years, Celie and Mister were finally able to communicate effectively, develop mutual respect and appreciate the roles they played in each other’s’ lives.
Bickley, L. S., & Szilagyi, P. G. (2017). Bates’ guide to physical examination and history taking (12th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer.
Fern?- ndez, R. (2014). Women’s rights and development. Journal of Economic Growth, 19(1), 37“80. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10887-013-9097-x
Giger, J. N., & Davidhizar, R. (2002). The Giger and Davidhizar Transcultural Assessment Model. Journal of Transcultural Nursing, 13(3), 185. Retrieved from https://ezproxy.delhi.edu/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edb&AN=6943153&site=eds-live
Spielberg, S. (Producer), & Spielberg, S. (Director). (1985). The Color Purple [Motion Picture]. United States: Amblin Entertainment.
The movie The Color Purple. (2019, Jul 31).
Retrieved September 27, 2022 , from
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