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Examine The Ways In Which Walker Uses The Symbolism Of Sewing In "The Color Purple" To Reflect Celie's Spiritual And Emotional Development

3252 words - 14 pages

A major symbol that reoccurs throughout the novel 'The Color Purple' is the practice of sewing. This activity is one that several of the characters participate in, and for Celie it represents a way of channelling her energy and anger. It also allows her to bond with other females, creating strong relationships and giving her a sense of freedom and independence from the male dominance that has clouded a large section of her life. The quilt, an ongoing pursuit for Celie, is one of two main examples of sewing in the text, the other being the eventually profitable vocation of making pants. It is this supposedly marginal and unimportant labour of women that is representative of Celie's spiritual ...view middle of the document...

This movement was in contrast to the Victorian era with its overly busy and ornate décor and encouraged a return to simpler, handcrafted architecture, furniture and home decoration. The Colonial Revival that bloomed during the first part of the 20th century was a natural result of this and pre-industrial times were glorified and handmade items were in demand. Therefore America looked to its past for inspiration and quilting fell right into this philosophy. This practice was one particularly active through the 1920s and 30s i.e. the Depression era (a time in which Celie is first beginning to sew with Sofia) when the quilt could be made from sewing scraps and from out-grown clothing, so that very little expense was involved. Quilting was one activity that a woman could do to fulfil her desire to be creative while still making something practical for her family.Often throughout the initial letters of the text the fabrics used to create this quilt can be perceived as scraps - pieces of material frequently recycled from other items. "Lets make quilt piece out of these messed up curtains, she (Sofia) say. And I run git my pattern book." The idea that this quilt is being sewn together from a diverse range of fabrics and patterns (i.e. the pieces of curtain) can be seen to represent the diverse range of people who have come together to produce it. Additionally these scraps of material are similar to the epistolary structure of the novel. The text, written in the form of a series of letters is woven together by various pieces of information/communication to create the structure of the narrative - the letters, like these pieces of fabric are joined together to produce a whole. Furthermore, the implication that the material used to create the quilt is in fact 'scrap' signifies a relation to the initial character of Celie when the activity is first suggested. In the beginning she is a timid and meek creature, often detached and isolated from the people around her and frequently treated as insignificant. When compared to these pieces of fabric their qualities can be seen as extraordinarily similar - the scraps, small and unwanted, often unnoticed and irrelevant bear striking resemblances to her character as she is also thought of in this way.Celie, throughout the course of the novel sews with a variety people although primarily Sofia and Shug Avery. The activity of quilting is one that provides a basis to form strong female relationships upon, allowing them an outlet to channel their frustration and anger against the abuse they suffer at the hands of men, into creativity - and it is notion of uniting together as women to create something productive that permits this bond to form. In my opinion the quilt is symbolic of a non-violent protest against men. "A needle and not a razor in my hand, I think." In this way it shows Celie's growing strength as a women as she chooses to direct her rising hatred through something she benefits from, rather than...

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