The Color Purple
How we cite our quotes:
You still bothering Sofia? I ast.
She my wife, he say.
That don’t mean you got to keep on bothering her, I say. Sofia love you, she a good wife. Good to the children and good looking. Hardworking. Godfearing and clean. I don’t know what more you want.
I want her to do what I say, like you do for Pa.
Oh, Lord, I say.
When Pa tell you to do something, you do it, he say. When he say not to, you don’t. You don’t do what he say, he beat you.
Sometime beat me anyhow, I say, whether I do what he say or not.
That’s right, say Harpo. But not Sofia. She do what she want, don’t pay me no mind at all. I try to beat her, she black my eyes. Oh, booo-hoo, he cry. Boo-hoo-hoo. (29.5-13)
To Harpo, a good marriage is one in which the woman is totally submissive. To Celie, a good marriage is one in which there is love and respect.
Why do they say I will be a wife of the chief? asks Olivia.
That is as high as they can think, I tell her.
He is fat and shiny with huge perfect teeth. She thinks she has nightmares about him.
You will grow up to be a strong Christian woman, I tell her. Someone who helps her people to advance. You will be a teacher or a nurse. You will travel. You will know many people greater than the chief.
Will Tashi? she wants to know.
Yes, I tell her, Tashi too. (62.13-18)
Marriage is not the end all be all. Nettie assures her niece that a woman has worth outside of the man she marries.
You know, he say, you use to remind me of a bird. Way back when you first come to live with me. You was so skinny, Lord, he say. And the least little thing happen, you looked about to fly away.
You saw that, I say.
I saw it, he said, just too big a fool to let myself care.
Well, I say, us lived through it.
We still man and wife, you know, he say.
Naw, I say, we never was. (84.9-14)
Though Mr.__ and Celie are still legally married, Celie states definitively that they were never spiritually or emotionally married.