The Color Purple
How we cite our quotes:
You told Harpo to beat me, she said.
No I didn’t, I said.
Don’t lie, she said.
I didn’t mean it, I said.
Then what you say it for? she ast.
She standing there looking me straight in the eye. She look tired and her jaws full of air.
I say it cause I’m a fool, I say. I say it cause I’m jealous of you. I say it cause you do what I can’t.
What that? she say.
Fight. I say.
She stand there a long time, like what I said took the wind out her jaws. She made before, sad now.
She say, All my life I had to fight. I had to fight my daddy. I had to fight my brothers. I had to fight my cousins and my uncles. A girl child ain’t safe in a family of men. But I never thought I’d have to fight in my own house. (21.13-23)
Celie didn’t physically beat Sofia up but she did violence against her soul by encouraging Harpo to do it.
I ain’t never struck a living thing, I say. Oh, when I was at home I tap the little ones on the behind to make ‘em behave, but not hard enough to hurt.
What you do when you git mad? she ast.
I think. I can’t even remember the last time I felt mad, I say. I used to git mad at my mammy cause she put a lot of work on me. Then I see how sick she is. Couldn’t stay mad at her. Couldn’t be mad at my daddy cause he my daddy. Bible say, Honor father and mother no matter what. Then after while every time I got mad, or start to feel mad, I got sick. Felt like throwing up. Terrible feeling. Then I start to feel nothing at all. (21.39-41)
Celie has been beaten so much, she has become numb to life.
Sofia and the prizefighter don’t’ say nothing. Wait for her to pass. Mayor wait too, stand back and tap his foot, watch her with a little smile. Now Millie, he say. Always going on over colored. Miss Millie finger the children some more, finally look at Sofia and the prizefighter. She look at the prizefighter car. She eye Sofia wristwatch. She say to Sofia, All your children so clean, she say, would you like to work for me, be my maid?
Sofia say, Hell no.
She say, What you say?
Sofia say, Hell no.
Mayor look at Sofia, push his wife out the way. Stick out his chest. Girl, what you say to Miss Millie?
Sofia say, I say, Hell no.
He slap her.
No need to say no more, Mr.________ say. You know what happen if somebody slap Sofia.
Squeak go white as a sheet. Naw, she say.
Naw nothing, I say. Sofia knock the man down.
The polices come, start slinging the children off the mayor, bang they heads together. Sofia really start to fight. They drag her to the ground. (37.13-25)
Just like the black male characters use violence to assert dominance over their wives, white society uses violence in an attempt to make black people submissive.