The Direct and Indirect Impact of Rhetoric
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
relationships 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
his 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
helps 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
rhetoric. 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.