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The Color Purple

by Alice Walker
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How important is the making of clothes and other fabric items to the development of plot and characters in The Color Purple?

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In Alice Walker's The Color Purple , the main character Celie spends much of her life persecuted by her husband, Mr.___. He is abusive to her both physically and mentally. When she finally breaks free of him, it is through pure strength of will. The symbol for this freedom...

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In Alice Walker's The Color Purple, the main character Celie spends much of her life persecuted by her husband, Mr.___. He is abusive to her both physically and mentally. When she finally breaks free of him, it is through pure strength of will. The symbol for this freedom is her sewing. Celie starts to sew clothes. The act of sewing clothes represents weaving together a new narrative for herself. She is creating something when she sews. This action moves the plot along in a specific way as Celie works toward having her own business.

More importantly, it shows her change of character. Celie decides to start sewing pants, which are typically a male-gendered garment, yet Celie's pants are for men or women. She specializes in sewing pants, which are symbolic of her liberation--she will not be bound to skirts or a traditional woman's role (or an oppressed position for that matter). The pants that Celie makes show that she has transformed herself into an independent woman--not only because of the pants themselves but also because of the income they provide for her to truly support herself in her new life.

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