The Color Purple
Women and Femininity Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
He beat me today cause he say I winked at a boy in church. I may have got somethin in my eye but I didn’t wink. I don’t even look at mens. That’s the truth. I look at women, tho, cause I’m not scared of them. Maybe cause my mama cuss me you think I kept mad at her. But I ain’t. I felt sorry for mama. Trying to believe his story kilt her. (5.1)
In Celie’s mind, men have a kind of meanness that women don’t possess. Women, though they may scream and swear, are not harmful in the way men like Pa are. Pa, and later Mr.__, set up a strong distinction in Celie’s mind between women and men.
Harpo, she [Kate, Mr.__’s sister] say. Harpo the oldest boy. Harpo, don’t let Celie be the one bring in all the water. You a big boy now. Time for you to help out some.
Women work, he say.
What? she say.
Women work. I’m a man.
You’re a trifling nigger, she say. You git that bucket and bring it back full.
He cut his eye at me. Stumble out. I hear him mutter somethin to Mr.________ sitting on the porch. Mr.___________ call his sister. She stay out on the porch talking a little while, then she come back in, shaking.
Got to go, Celie, she say.
She so mad tears be flying every which way while she pack. (12.28-35)
Mr.__ and his son see women essentially as servants, or slaves, meant to work while men enjoy life. Though some women try to band together and support each other, many men in this novel try to prevent them from supporting each other.
Harpo ast his daddy why he beat me. Mr._______ say, Cause he my wife. Plus, she stubborn. All women good for—he don’t finish. He just tuck his chin over the paper like he do. Remind me of Pa.
Harpo ast me, How come you so stubborn? He don’t ast how come you his wife? Nobody ast that.
I say, Just born that way, I reckon.
He beat me like he beat the children. Cept he don’t never hardly beat them. He say, Celie, git the belt. The children be outside the room peeking through the cracks. It all I can do not to cry. I make myself wood. I say to myself, Celie, you a tree. That’s how come I know trees fear man. (13.1-4)
Harpo and Mr.__ treat women as if they’re children and, perhaps, worse than children – as if they have no will or rights of their own.