How is the epistolary form used in The Color Purple by Alice Walker?

Epistolary form is used in The Color Purple to create an open, honest narrative in which we learn Celie's deepest feelings and fears with regard to her abusive father and later her abusive husband. It provides an openness and candor that would have been lost in other forms of narrative.

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To answer this question, we first need to establish what epistolary form is. In a nutshell, this refers to a novel that has been written in the form of letters. In more unusual cases, an epistolary novel can take the form of other documents, such as newspaper clippings or diary entries.

In the case of The Color Purple, Alice Walker has written this novel in the form of a series of letters that the protagonist, Celie, writes to God. If ever there was a character in need of God's help, I would argue that it's Celie. Having endured sexual abuse at the hands her father, she has borne two children who have been taken away from her. She was then forced to marry another abusive older man.

The effect of epistolary form is a view into our protagonist's mind that cannot be surpassed. Since she is often writing to God, who is all-knowing anyway, she has no need to hide any of her innermost thoughts, fears, or desires. In addition, the letters that are exchanged between Celie and her sister, Nettie,...

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