In both novels the narrator of the story seem to have a lot of people surrounding them, however both have someone they can turn to as their role model. Shug Avery has been presented as a rather likeable character in the colour purple, whom Celie has confided in, and has found true happiness with after the problems she faced throughout her childhood. In Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit, Jeanette seems to rely on Elsie Norris as someone she can rely on and as someone she can go to get away from the life of an oppre sed young girl who may not always want religion as her main priority.
In the Colour Purple, Celie starts the novel off by using a graphalogical effect in italic letters, this introduces the main event of the story about how Celie writes to ‘god’ because it seems she only turns to god for comfort. Then we enter the main novel being delimited with Celie’s childhood life. The fact that her stepfather has raped her disturbs the readers thought about the story and how Celie is going to behave further on, we seem to be uncomfortable to be left with a vision of a young girl raped with no-one to help her get through it, the death of her mother and the role of her looking after her young siblings show us as the readers the hard life Celie has. The forced marriage she goes through effects us and we feel like this is the way her life is probably going to be till the end.
When Shug Avery is introduced and Celie seems to have an interest in her it makes us as the readers have a sense of hope for Celie. Shug Avery is firstly mentioned in letter number 6, where Celie has no idea of who she is, neither do we, and as much as Celie is anxious to know ‘what it is’ we too want to know what it is that has brought interest into. Shug Avery being someone Celie dreams after this makes us happy and want to know whether Shug Avery will be a role in Celie’s life or not. Alice walker has probably deliberately used this style to make the readers like Shug Avery so far because it’s a turning point in Celie’s feelings about someone apart from her sister Nettie.
Jeanette in ‘Oranges’ starts her novel by talking about her own life and her relationship with her mother. She plays a slightly religious freak role that seems obsessed with her work and doesn’t like her daughter to be too much involved in anything apart from religion. For instance she doesn’t let Jeanette go to school and when Jeanette was ill (deaf ear) she changed her illness to something that had filled her with spirit, however she looks up to her mother admiringly without wanting to be like her, which is fair enough because it seems Jeanette isn’t very satisfied with the amount of attention she is paid personally.
Elsie Norris however, seems to be someone whom Jeanette admits that she ‘likes very much’. Elsie is an interest to Jeanette because in a sense she is rather different to Pastor Spratt who seems to be very hooked with Mrs Winterson’s work, her father who doesn’t even have a role yet in the novel. Elsie Norris provides Jeanette things that Jeanette finds a sentiment in, which are very different to the things found in her home. In her home she would be likely to find stacks of biblical books, and church hymns whereas in Elsie’s home there is things like an organ which they play on, foreign coins and ‘best of all she had a collage of Noah’s ark’
Elsie seems to give Jeanette power over things that she doesn’t necessarily believe in it to be the way she has been taught. She for example changes the ‘Noah’s ark collage’ story to the way she would like it to happen, she decides that she doesn’t want them to survive, therefore she ‘drowns it’.
This shows that when she is with Elsie unlike with her mother she feels free to explore her inside feelings and to feel creative with her imagination; her mother doesn’t give her this freedom. Elsie seems to play the mothers role or like a best friend role rather than Jeanette’s mother. Celie, through the thought of Shug Avery, can make anything possible when thinking about Shug Avery, for instance she says that when she thinks about Shug and that she knows that Mr.________ has done this with Shug she puts her ‘arms around him’. This shows that even before Celie has actually got to know Shug she is already building confidence and reliability on Shug.
Alice walker uses a verisimilitude style of writing with the diary form to present Shug Avery as the ‘dress to kill, beautiful woman ever seen’ to bring connotation s of Shug being a loveable, kind and popular character. By using the description of the way she dresses, the way she poses in the picture Celie has seen it makes it easier for the readers to imagine Shug Avery.