Besides Shug Avery, do any of Celie's other female friendships help her to resist male dominance in The Colour Purple?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Nettie is another very good example of a female character in this wonderful book that helps Celie to resist male dominance. In fact, as Celie's sister, in a sense, Nettie is only able to live the independent and strong life she lives because of the sacrifices that Celie makes for her sister. She marries instead of Nettie, for example, and she works hard to manoeuvre her sister away from their father when it is clear he is becoming interested in her sexually. Nettie returns the favour in her letters by working hard to expand Celie's mind and also urging her to be strong and to value herself for her own inner strength and worth rather than the worth that society gives her. Note how Nettie writes to Celie about how the situation is amongst the Olinka, where she works:

The Olinka do not believe girls should be educated. When I asked a mother why she thought this, she said: A girl is nothing to herself; only to her husband can she become something.

Of course, Nettie completely dismisses this, and writes of the parallels that she finds between the Olinka and her own background. She, through her own example of not marrying until she feels she is fulfilled, defies gender stereotypes and refuses to let society control her life. This is something that helps move Celie on to a position where she is able to learn from her sister and escape male domination. 

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The Color Purple

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