The Color Purple - Childhood


Reminisce of the days of being a child. What comes to mind? Romping through the forest, connected to nature? Feeling free and innocent? Basically, what society views childhood to be? Well, guess what; childhood can be hell! Unfortunately, many children have horrible childhoods, suffering from abusive parents. Bad childhood stems from bad parents. Every ten seconds go by, and a parent abuses his child. Acts of rebellion, loss of self-esteem, lack of confidence-all factors are the results from a child being abused. Sadly, sometimes society ignores that aspect. Luckily, literature differs from other mediums in that it can express thoughts and emotional more effectively. Alice Walker's The Color Purple and William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury depict two girls going through a bad childhood. Celie and Caddy experience abuse from their parents, which causes Caddy and Celie to have emotion difficulties in their adult life. Caddy's parents never beat her or sexually molest her; she suffers from psychological neglect, which many people do not see as a type of abuse. Psychological neglect includes the lack of emotional support and love, or the parents never attend to the child. Neither Mr. Compson nor Mrs. Compson says, "I love you" to Caddy; they do not show any type of emotional support. The father is a booze-drinking-could-care-less-life-is-a-bitch-then-you-die type of person, and the mother is a neurotic, whining bitch. Guilty as charged. No personal relationship exists between Caddy and her father; Mr. Compson is not there for his daughter. Can a relationship be established with a man who believes women "have an affinity for evil for supplying whatever the evil lacks in itself for drawing it about them instinctively... until the evil has served it's purpose whether it existed or no" (110)? He sees women as evil and subordinate. Whereas most fathers would be outraged, Mr. Compson disregards Caddy's promiscuity. To him, Caddy's promiscuity is natural, human absurdity. Her integrity is none of his concern. When a father fusses at his misguided child, it is a sign of caring; he is fusses to improve his child. Mr. Compson does nothing; he does not care, leaving Caddy neglected. Caddy's mother is no better than her father is. A girl needs her mother; a mother is the only one a girl can turn to sometimes. However, Mrs. Compson is not the mother that a girl can always rely on. Mrs. Compson either makes negative comments or barks commands to Caddy. When Caddy forgets something, Mrs. Compson says negatively "You must think"(9) or she sometimes unjustly blames Caddy "You must have done something to him [Benjy]. Why wont [sic] you let him alone, so I can have some peace" (47). Caddy can never do anything right in Mrs. Compson's eyes; Mrs. Compson can never praise Caddy. Caddy gets no support or love from her mother. When Caddy's promiscuity is known, Mrs. Compson true nature reeks through: "what have I done to have been giving children like these Benjamin was punishment enough and now her. . . . I look at her I wonder if she can be my child" (117). Harsh is that statement she says about her own flesh and blood. Regardless of the predicament a child gets herself into, a mother should always have unconditional love for her child. Where is the unconditional love in Mrs. Compson for Caddy? Unconditional love does not touch Mrs. Compson; her nature focuses on status and materialistic qualities. Unconditional love is just the opposite. Caddy's psychological neglect from her parents has a profound effect on her. As she grows older, she observes her father's cynicism and her mother's whining. Caddy feels that she must reject the fake Compson world; she would willingly agree to have incest or commit suicide with Quentin, because either one would be a rejection of her parents. She has sex, because each new encounter is a new rejection. She does not love these men; she says, "when they touched me, I died"(171). Caddy does not desire to be like her parents. Caddy tries to disassociate herself from the Compsons; she attempts to express independency and individuality. However, her attempts are in vain. She has an illegitimate child, and her husband ousts her. Even her failure is a fault of her bad parents, because she would have never have the need to rebel if her parents did not