When Alphonso refused to hand over Nettie to Mr ____ it showed some compassion that had not already been seen in him. It could be possible that Walker wanted to show that he knew Nettie could be so much more than Celie, not just because of her looks but of her ability to learn. It was his actions that led her to become a missionary. Mr___ also played a part in Nettie’s calling. When she was staying with her sister when Mr___ tried to use Nettie in the same way he used Celie: for his own personal pleasure.
Her determination to escape from his hold meant Nettie overpowered Mr___, not in strength but in cunning. This then directed Nettie to become a missionary and educating the men of the Olinka tribe. The Olinka men still maintained their dominance over woman by denying them an education; however it was Nettie’s education that caused her to receive the respect she deserved. Unlike the other women in The Color Purple Shug Avery is the only character doesn’t seem to be overpowered by a man. The men in her life are love interests and not men trying to degrade her or mould her into the woman they want.
Walker does this because Shug is not only a role model for some of the other female roles, but she is also a fantasy for the men with her “long black body” (page 47) and “wearing skintight red dress”(page 69) Mr____ is the one man who seems to possess a mixture of love and fear for Shug. They have shared a bed on many occasions and this fills Mr____ with pride that he is the one Shug chooses to go to bed with. However Shug considers him to be “weak”( page73). By saying this Walker could be trying to express that Mr____ does it so he can feel like he has some control in his life.
That because he can’t control how Shug feels about him he takes it out on Celie instead on confronting the issue. The second man in Shugs life is Grady, who Shug introduces to Celie in such rash manner that it could be that Walker was using him a device for her to show Mr___ and Celie’s feelings. This would then provide them with some common ground. Alice Walker has integrated her own experience with the events and issues of the 1930’s into The Colour Purple with great skill, which should be admired. Her writing has shown that woman can easily be portrayed in many different lights and the female stereotype couldn’t be further from the truth.
Men have a kind of meanness that women don’t possess. Women, though they may scream and swear, are not harmful in the way men are. Walker has shown that this phrase is sexist for both men and woman. As portrayed through Sophia woman can be harmful in the same way as men and as shown through Mr___ and Alphonso men can also be the ones to fear. Although it may be out of weakness and shame. 1 1 Alice Walker, The Color Purple (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1982) All references are to this edition and are given parenthetically in the essay.