In her novel The Color Purple, Alice Walker challenges many of the conventions that are related to the sexual identity of a person and gender norms. To a great extent, this goal is achieved with the help of such a character as Shug Avery who exemplifies such values as moral independence and courage.
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It is important to show how this woman is portrayed in the book and the screen version of the novel directed by Steven Spielberg.
Overall, it is possible to argue that the film adaptation makes this character less subversive and controversial; nevertheless, in both cases, Shug plays an important role because she helps Celie discover some important qualities such as dignity and self-sufficiency. This is the main thesis that should be examined in greater detail.
At first, Steven Spielberg depicts the intimate relations between Shug and Celie in a different way. One should note that Shug clearly identifies herself as a bisexual person. Moreover, Alice Walker explicitly states that these characters start sexual relations.
This issue is closely examined by the author. In contrast, the film only hints at this possibility. This argument is particularly relevant if one speaks about their sensual kiss (The Color Purple). Nevertheless, this issue is not explored any further.
Therefore, the viewers are expected to reach their own conclusions about the degree of intimacy between these women. This is one of the differences that should be taken into consideration.
Additionally, much attention should be paid to Shug’s relations with her parents. In the book, Shug is virtually denounced by her parents, especially her mother. Shug recognizes that her values and lifestyles are not acceptable to her mother, but she does not intend to reconcile with her.
To some degree, she disagrees with the religious values of her parents. For instance, she says that “God loves admiration”, and in this way, she wants to defend her open sexuality and willingness to start intimate relations with other people (Walker 203). To a great extent, she discards the values of her parents.
This is one of the points that can be distinguished. In contrast, in the movie, she eventually restores relations with her father who is a preacher (The Color Purple). By introducing this detail, Stephen Spielberg makes Shug more acceptable to the viewers who might not read the book.
This is one of the differences that may attract the attention of the audience.
Apart from that, Alice Walker shows that Shug’s love affairs can be rather sporadic. For instance, after her marriage with Grady, she starts a love affair with a young man. Similarly, she may initiate an intimate affair only to irritate her former loves.. In turn, this detail is omitted in the movie.
Again, in this way, Spielberg makes Shug more conventional or acceptable to the audience. To a great extent, Alice Walker’s depiction of this person may seem unconventional even by the standards of the twenty-first century. Therefore, the artistic choices of film-makers make this character appear less controversial or subversive.
Moreover, Shug does not appear very arrogant or selfish. These are some of the key points that can be made because they are important for understanding the differences between the book and its screen version.
It should be kept in mind that Stephen Spielberg’s decision can be explained by some external factors. For instance, he might decide to remove scenes highlighting the sexuality of Shug and Celie so that the movie could receive appropriate rating, in particular, PG-13 (Streett and Kishner 148).
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So, to some degree, such decisions may not fully reflect his artistic values. This is one of the issues that should be considered by people who compare the book and the novel.
Nevertheless, there are certain similarities between the book and its screen version. In both cases, Shug helps Celie discover her dignity. In particular, she helps the protagonist understand that women do not have to submit to the will of men. Furthermore, she helps Celie realize that she should not be ashamed of her sexual identity.
To a great extent, the protagonist becomes more self-sufficient due to Shug’s encouragement. Moreover, Celie continuously relies on her friendship. One can even say that in many cases, Shug plays the role of her mother.
In both cases, she represents such values as self-sufficiency, self-respect and willingness to follow one’s ethical principles. These are some of the main similarities that can be identified.
On the whole, the comparison shows that Spielberg makes subtle changes while depicting Shug. The film-maker wants to make this character less subversive or outrageous. According to his interpretation, she is able to reconcile herself with the values of other people.
Furthermore, he omits some aspects of her behavior that can be questioned from an ethical viewpoint. However, in both cases, this woman plays a critical role because she helps other people discover courage and strength. This argument is particularly relevant if one speaks about Celie.
Additionally, she is willing to question the conventions that are taken for granted by other people. Many of these conventions are related to gender norms, religion, and sexuality. These are the main details that can be distinguished.
Streett, Bill, and Jeffrey Kishner. The Astrology of Film: The Interface of Movies, Myth, and Archetype. New York: IUniverse, 2004. Print.
The Color Purple. Ex. Prod. Stephen Spielberg. Los Angeles: Amblin Entertainment, 1985. DVD.
Walker, Alice. The Color Purple, New York, NY: Mariner Books, 2006. Print.