In the world that we live in, rhetoric always affects and is a part of everything that happens. Rhetoric, in its broadest sense, is communication, and how people relate to each other. The movie The Color Purple is about relationships. Therefore rhetoric plays a very important role in this movie. Throughout The Color Purple the impact of rhetoric can be seen in two groups of people, the communicator, or rhetor, and the audience. Celie, the main character of the movie, shows the impact of rhetoric in almost every aspect of her life. The effects of rhetoric in Celie’s life are apparent through her elationships with Mr.
Johnson, Shug Avery, and Sofia. The relationship that Celie has with Mr. Johnson is unbalanced from the first time they meet. Celie’s complacent and gentle nature leave her at the mercy of Albert Johnson’s more dominant attitude. The rhetoric that she expresses to him, of innocence and always complying to his orders, forces her to live a large portion of her life sheltered and overshadowed by Albert, who continuously beats her into submission. Celie also passes on what she learned from “Mister” to his son Harpo, the rhetoric of “the importance of a man giving is wife a good beating.
Albert Johnson does not even realize how important Celie is to him until she is gone. At that point he returns some of the love that is shown to him by helping Nettie and her family to return to the United States in order to see Celie. This action shows the impact of Mr. Johnson’s rhetoric on Celie by returning to her the first person that she ever loved. Both the rhetoric that Mr. Johnson exposes Celie to and the rhetoric that Celie reveals to Albert Johnson have a very important role in Celie’s life in the movie The Color Purple. Celie also shares a strong relationship with Shug Avery.
Celie first meets Shug when she is drunk and has a very bad temper. Celie just tries to comfort the sick stranger in her house. In this unselfish act of kindness, Celie’s rhetoric ends up giving her the best friend that she has for a long time. Shug then returns the rhetoric of kindness and love that Celie first shows her by writing a song to cheer her up. Celie’s newfound friend also teaches her how to smile, and perhaps how to enjoy life and respect herself. Shug Avery also elps Celie discover that Nettie is writing her and where to find the letters.
Celie’s rhetoric in her relationship with Shug let her gain a new friend, contact with her beloved sister, and rediscover a joy and purpose to her life. Rhetoric also has a strong impact in the relationship between Celie and Sofia. After Sofia’s jail sentence she is very depressed, and Celie helps her do the grocery shopping. Showing her rhetoric of friendship and kindness once again, Celie shows Sofia a friend when she needs one the most. At the family dinner one night, Celie expresses her true feelings in an outburst of hetoric.
This reawakens the spirit inside Sofia and allows her to admit to Celie how she helped her and that people do understand and love her. Without first affecting Sofia with her rhetoric, Celie would not have experienced the assurance of Sofia’s rhetoric in her life. Rhetoric is present in the relationships between Celie and Mr. Johnson, Shug Avery, and Sofia. This rhetoric affects Celie in many ways and from different directions. Celie is affected by how she relates to others through rhetoric and how others relate to her through rhetoric. In some cases
Celie’s rhetoric has an impact on someone else and then later works its way back to her. Mr. Johnson is exposed to Celie’s kindness and friendship a long time before he shows her some of the same respect. Shug Avery is also affected by the rhetoric of Celie before she is in turn impacted by Shug’s friendship. Celie gives Sofia the assurance that she needs and then receives the same from Sofia when she is in need of support. In all of these relationships Celie is affected directly by the rhetoric of the other people and indirectly by the influence of her own rhetoric.