The Color Purple

what abuse did celie suffer from her father?

What abuse did celie suffer from her father? What was the effect of the abuse? How did the abuse affect her image of marriage? 

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The novel opens with a line of dialogue spoken by Alfonso, Celie’s father: “You better not never tell nobody but God. It’d kill your mammy.” After this spoken line, Celie begins her letters, written to God. "I am fourteen years old. I am (which is crossed out by the writer) I have always been a good girl." Celie has been raped by her father while her mother was visiting the doctor in town, and Alfonso has told her that she can speak of these matters to none except God.

After having so many children and now being ill, Celie’s mother will not sleep with her husband, so Celie is forced to take her mother’s place. When Celie has a child, her mother screams at her, asking who the father is. Celie can only answer that it is “God’s.” Then the child goes missing, and Celie tells her mother that God took it, though she knows that Alfonso did. Celie is pregnant again when her mother dies. Her second child, a boy, also is taken and sold by Alfonso.

From these early diary entries, we see that Celie is wary of men in general, even scared of them, not just of her father. She is so distressed by the idea of men that she cannot see them in a potentially sexual way—instead she would rather look at a woman. It is not so surprising, then, when the news of the old affair with Shug and then Shug’s picture make Shug Avery seem rather alluring to Celie. Celie’s life is very troubled, and Shug seems to represent for Celie a liberation.