Accurate and Inaccurate Movie Portrayals

The paternalistic society of the South was accurately portrayed in the Color Purple.  Celie’s stepfather would have had ultimate control over whom Celie and Nettie married while they were living with him.  Mister continues this paternalistic portrayal, only he includes an abusive authority which exposes his insensitivity to the needs and feelings of women in his life.

Celie’s insecure, fearful characteristics would have developed out of the traumatic events that occurred in her life.  Living with a sexually abusive father who tells her to tell nobody but God, him taking her infants away shortly after their births, and marrying Mister and surviving his abuse, would have taught Celie to attract the least amount of attention to herself as possible.  She would have been kept herself busy cleaning the house and taking care of the children, as is portrayed in the movie.  She also would have developed into a woman willing to stand up for herself as she does by the end of the movie with the encouragement and love of Shug.  Her intimate relationship with Shug could also have been accurate.

Music played an important role in African American lives.  The types of music (jazz, blues, and gospel) used in the movie were prevalent among the black community.

 Nettie’s portrayal of becoming a missionary after being thrown out of Mister’s house was realistic.  Being black, female, young and unskilled, there would have been very few options for her in the South.  After slaves were emancipated, there was a push for a return to Africa and help settle a new country for black Americans in Liberia.

Sofia’s strong, formidable role in the Color Purple related how these strong, black women would have found difficulty in their lives.  Sofia first reveals how she had to compete with her brothers growing up, and she refused to have to fight her husband, Harpo.  The most heartbreaking experience Sofia survived was the beating she endured at the hands of the white population in town.  Insulted by the mayor’s wife, Sofia refused to back down and “remember her place” in the presence of white people.  Because of this offense, she found herself placed in jail, with more beatings that eventually broke her spirit, for years.  She would have been lucky to not have been lynched, as lynchings raised in popularity by whites to remind blacks of their place in southern white society.

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