How is religion and faith presented in "The Color Purple"?

Essay by Lauraeccles91213High School, 12th grade October 2014

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Laura Eccles Year 12

How is religion and faith presented in "The Color Purple"?

Throughout 'The Color Purple' Alice Walker explores the importance of religion in Western Africa in the early 20th century. She portrays through the characters how people used/saw religion in different ways.

The book starts with "Dear God" which tells me this is a book about faith. The church is an important part of the social life of the community in which Celie lives. Throughout the novel, she is a member of the Church and works as hard there as she does for Mr and his children. Celie begins each of her letters with "Dear God" as she has nobody else to talk to or confide in. She says "As long as I can spell G-o-d I got somebody along". She looks to God for support and help, maybe because at the beginning of the novel she is threatened by her stepfather to "never tell nobody but God" or he'd "kill her mammy".

This shows how she relies on religion to get through all the suffering and mistreatment she undergoes as it is all she has, she doesn't have a proper family who look after and treat her well, therefore God is seen as her vision of hope. The fact she is writing to a character who is often seen as fictional emphasises the lack of stability she has in forming a bright and hopeful future.

Celie's faith appears quite naïve and childlike and undergoes a lot of reconsideration as the novel progresses. She realises that the God she originally imagined is not the one she needs. It is significant that she visualises him as a white man as white men wrote the bible. All the angels are white...