Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Power of an Education

As I read through Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, I saw the apparent theme of education intertwined with Celie’s story. As Celie states “Us both be hitting Nettie’s schoolbooks pretty hard, cause us know we got to be smart to git away” (9). Here, the concept of an education serves as a ticket into a better life, an escape from a brutal reality. As Celie points out the importance of an education she also notes that she enjoys learning. Celie understands the power of an education and we as readers see her transform into a more knowledgeable woman by the end of the novel.

It is important to realize that without her education the novel would not exist, because we are reading her direct words. Celie seems to hold her own, and as readers we can see an improvement with her writing. The novel starts off with Celie just stating events and not really analyzing these experiences, but as we travel with Celie we are viewing her life through the words and descriptions she provides us with.

After finding Nettie’s letters Celie’s writing seems to have improved demonstrating the power of literature as a tool of an education. Even though Nettie is not directly present, her presence within the letter helps educate Celie. This mere fact demonstrates how effective literature can be on a person’s education and the restrictions that come into play. With regards to Pa’s rules, on not allowing Celie to go to school, this could have affected the overall tone of the story. With Celie’s limited education, as readers we are able to watch her develop into a more skilled person with her ambition and drive to “git away” (9).
Celie’s letters demonstrate a sense of power because during her time with her “Pa” she seems to be voiceless. However these writings help reveal Celie’s inner voice, demonstrating a sense of power within the expression of her voice by making use of her education. These letters also serve as a learning tool for the readers, demonstrating Celie's powerful presence as a teacher.

The Color Purple really resonated with me, especially after my service learning at Govans last Monday. Last week we had an incident with a hateful note. The note was written after one of the younger girls had gotten into a fight with her white “friend”. The issue of racism was a hand, but more importantly the concept that Celie possessed during the whole novel, was present. What I saw was an expression of feelings, anger so apparent it could not be ignored.

This experience really made me think back to The Color Purple because the one girl in the class got so angry that she wrote meaningless words. I didn’t see that emotion portrayed in this novel, demonstrating the separation of Celie’s emotions with her writing. I saw Celie as a very passive, calm, and collected woman. She seemed to only write with intention to tell her story. This made me question if her education restricted her from telling her complete story. Could she not include certain aspects of the story because she didn’t know how to formulate her feelings? Or did she leave them out purposefully?

My service-learning really came into play with this novel because the two demonstrated the role of limitations. In The Color Purple, the limitation being education based and at Govans the limitation involving emotions and the effect on writing.

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