What keeps them hanging on?
Steven Spielberg put Alice Walker's riveting book Color Purple on screen in an unforgettable way. The book's the triumphant story about a fine young girl who grows into a wonderful woman.
Young Celie's mother is worn out with bearing children and wants nothing to do with her second husband who then rapes his step-daughter at will. The mother dies resentful of defenseless Celie while the girl bears two babies; babies sold by the rapist step-father who berates his victim with her ugliness and "damaged goods" status.
Albert, a philandering neighbour, marries Celie so she can cook, wash and raise his kids for him. The abuse continues while Celie worries about her younger sister who is having to fight off the rapacious step-father. Nettie is the love of Celie's life and her dearest friend and when she flees the abusive man she comes to live with Celie only to be pursued by Albert. When she refuses to be dishonoured by him he throws her out. The broken-hearted little girl leaves the tortured and sobbing Celie, swearing that only death would separate her from her beloved sister.
The weeks become months and the months years without a word from Nettie. Celie, lonely, abused and unthanked, longs after her lost babies and the sister she now half believes to be dead. Or worse, half afraid that she's still alive but has forgotten her. Then she discovers Nettie has been writing her letters from Africa; letters her cruel husband had been keeping from her. The sister she loved and thought she'd lost was alive and well and, what's more, she still adores her sister. This gives the nearly broken Celie new life and strength and purpose. There was something--someone--in the world worth living for!
When her husband's lover, Shug, is leaving after visiting in Celie's home for quite a while, Celie summons up the courage to leave with her. The astonished Albert viciously insults and threatens her. "You'll be back," he says, "Shug got talent, she can sing, she got spunk, she can talk to anybody. Shug got looks. But what you got? You ugly. You black. You skinny. You shape funny. You too scared to open your mouth to people."
But as she's driven off in the car after years of crushing humiliation and while he spitefully raves from the porch, she triumphantly shouts back, "I'm poor. I'm black. I may be ugly, but dear God, I'm here!"
What keeps people hanging on?