1979 AP prompt, Book used: The Color Purple

Essay by bigmike2690High School, 12th grade April 2008

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Every great work holds the idea of evil in at least one of its characters. This idea can be used to make the “good guy” look better, or it can create an obstacle. In Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, this person is Mr.___. Walker uses this evil to elicit pity for Celie, the protagonist, but that is not all. Mr.___ is more complicated than he seems.

Mr.___ is lazy, self centered, inconsiderate and chauvinistic. He beats Celie for everything and doesn’t care about her pleasure in bed. The reader learns to hate Mr.___ right off the bat. He doesn’t want to marry Celie, but takes her when her stepfather sells him on the fact that she’s a hard worker and good with children. After this, she is made to do all the work, weather domestic or in the field. Even when Shug Avery arrives, one would think the entire family would work harder to support another body.

Despite that common sense, Mr.___ spends all his time with Shug while Celie works twice as hard. In short, Mr.___ is a terrible husband.

Despite his attitude, his shortcomings can be somewhat overlooked. We discover that he is a weak person and only wields his power over Celie so much because she starts out as an even weaker person. The truth is unearthed first when Shug arrives and belittles Mr.___ while calling him “Albert” and telling him he is not a real man. It is proven again when his father visits and basically tells him that he is weak. The point is proved in entirety when he winds up lonely and missing Celie after she leaves. As bad as Albert seems, he deserves more pity than he does hatred.

In many cases, the character who exhibits evil will be cast in a negative light and thought of as an obstacle. The Color Purple throws this idea out when Mr.___ or “Albert” seems like a terrible person but we learn otherwise. He is in fact a small and insecure person who needs to be surrounded with people for fear of loneliness. Celie’s character is molded by Albert’s actions in this novel.

Sources:The Color Purple by Alice Walker