The use of the present for past events such as “I say” instead of I said and the absence of speech punctuation also continues to give the novel the feeling of a play script. This first person narrative gives a sense of intimacy and immediacy with events in the novel and Walker continues to gain the closeness of the reader with Celie right until the novel’s conclusion. Walker continues through her use of the epistolary form, which has connotations of a diary, cleverly to capture the reader’s interest and empathy towards her protagonist.
By using this form she continues to play on the readers emotions and the reader feels a sense of intimacy and immediacy with Celie, in this sense it seems as if the reader has experienced Celie’s life, thoughts and journey to freedom alongside her.
The opening of letter 90 addressed: Dear God. Dear stars, dear trees…Dear everything. Dear God” is a method used by Walker to show changed attitudes to spirituality within her life, but also contains symbolism to represent aspects of the story.
Addressing “Dear stars” links to slavery. It has been claimed that many slaves followed the Northern star as their guiding star to escape to freedom from their slave masters. Therefore through symbolism Alice Walker suggests that Celie’s “happy ending” has been achieved through her following of her “guiding stars”, Shug and Nettie.
The “happy ending” to The Color Purple is, in my view, absolutely necessary for Alice Walker to achieve her purpose and appropriate her views.
It shows the triumph of human spirit and follows a necessary route to appropriate Alice Walker’s views of womanism as having strength and power to allow women to break free from oppression. It is the only logical conclusion which can instil in women throughout all communities that they do not have to accept their fate, be submissive and continue to accept oppression.
Critics such as bell hooks have taken issue with the novel’s ending, bell hooks feels the ending is an unrealistic fantasy in so far as it suggests we can have everything: material well-being, no sexual exploitation, concern towards racism and tolerance of sexuality. She feels the novel suggests all these things are possible without a huge struggle or effort. I agree in some ways that certain parts of the novel could incorporate a greater struggle, although for Alice Walker’s purposes I feel the fantasy expresses ideas of hope and an ideal others wish for.
However, I can see how some readers can see the ending as sickly and sentimental as at times the language used to portray Celie’s triumph appears superficial. Despite her earlier treatment by “Mr_” they seem, in my opinion, too easily reconciled through the love of Shug: “Us talk about you, I say. How much us love you.” This type of language does make aspects of the ending seem sickly and sentimental. However I do feel this reconciliation to be necessary to Alice Walker’s purpose and although slightly unrealistic does effectively, in a fairy tale style, show the triumph of human spirit through forgiveness and love. The ending of the novel is in my opinion how most readers wish and hope the novel to end.
I do not view the novel as a realist novel, but rather as a novel intended to metaphorically portray the triumph of the human spirit. I agree with the critic Andrea Stuart who said that the novel should not be read as “a realist novel in the ordinary sense” but instead as a fairy/folk tale or fable. The novel’s ending advocates ideas that through strength of character, self-acceptance and positive thinking you can achieve freedom and I feel that through Alice Walker showing that black women can achieve, she sets in place a self-fulfilling prophecy inspiring and instilling hope in others, no matter what their background, that it is possible to achieve things within their life. Therefore I see the novel’s ending as integral to the story and as an inspiration of hope.
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