In her letter to God after she was raped by Pa, why did Celie use the sentence "I have always been a good girl" instead of "I am a good girl"? Do you think that this shows Celie's submssiveness that makes her don't dare to claim herself a good girl ?
This usage, to me, suggests that she is searching her past for reasons or ways to explain what has started happening to her.
She does not deserve the treatment she is getting. She does not deserve to be punished because, not only is she currently a "good girl", but nothing from her past opens her up to a need for the kind of cruelty she is being subjected to. She has always been good. Her history does not justify her ill treatment.
Remember that Celie has two children by her father, so she has been raped by her father more than once (possibly even more than twice assuming that each encounter does not necessarily produce a child). Celie uses "have always been" to show that throughout her life, she has been good, yet bad things like this continue to happen to her. I agree with the above post that she questions God as to why she is being "punished" in this way if she is, and has always been, a good girl.
I believe that Celie uses the statement, "I have always been a good girl" to show her conflicting emotions about what has happened. It seems as though she is questioning God as to why this terrible ordeal has taken place. She is emphasizing the fact that she has never done anything to harm anyone, and that she should not have been punished by being raped. I do not believe that it was the intention of the author to reflect the submissiveness of Celie's character.
While it’s possible, "I have always been a good girl," might indicate some feelings of guilt as victims seem to suffer, is it not also possible that she is being more assertive (and that is not the precise word I am looking for). I am seems more submisive where as I have been seems stronger--to show more ownership of the knowledge which might lead to even more conflicted feelings.
Maybe this sentence is showing her guilt and possible self-blame for what has happened to her. Society often puts the blame on the victim for rape and other sexual crimes. Perhaps by saying, "I have always been..." she indicates that she's not so sure now that she's been raped if she's still 'good'. How sad.