Reminisce of the days of being a child. What comes to mind? Feeling free and innocent? Basically, what society views childhood to be? 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 emotional 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 reject her. Caddy’s parents seem wonderful, compared to Celie’s parents. Not only does Celie endure neglect, she experiences verbal, sexual, and physical abuse from her parents. Whereas Mrs. Compson has no excuse, Ceile’s mother is not totally at fault; she is mentally ill, and she is victim of a horrible tragedy. Nonetheless, Celie’s mother does affect Celie’s childhood.
The mother’s illness causes her to neglect and to verbally abuse Celie. When Fonso abuses Celie, she cannot turn to her mother for any type of help; her mother is not there for her. The only interaction between Celie and her mother is the mother fussing, cussing, or screaming at Celie. Anyone would take Caddy’s father over Celie’s stepfather any day of the week. Celie goes through childhood believing that her father has raped her and that he has killed both their children. Similar to Mr. Compson’s way, Fonso never shows any love for Celie.
Celie remarks, ” he never had a kine [sic] word to say to me” (1). He tells her she “evil an [sic] always up to no good”(4). Fonso description of Celie is “she ugly. But she ain’t no stranger to hard work. She ain’t smart either”(9). She is an ignorant slave to him. No child should be beating; but Fonso beats Celie—sometimes for ridiculous, unjust reasons. For example, he beats her when he thinks she is winking at a boy in church (6). As if verbal and physical abuse is not enough, Fonso sexually molests her; she does what her “mammy wouldn’t” (1).
Most people would agree that sexual abuse, especially by the child’s parent, is the worst abuse to endure. Fonso does nothing in Celie’s childhood but bring her pain. Instead of seeing Celie as a little girl, Fonso see property that can be disposed of. . Celie’s abuse strips her of all positive influence on her. At an adult age, she has no will power; she is a submissive little girl. The women in her life tell her she must fight, but she just cannot; she is only a survivor. At an early age she writes, ” I don’t look at mens. That’s the truth.
I look at women, tho, cause I’m not scared of them”(6). Celie is already scared of men; Men will dominate her, because her parents never teach her self-esteem and confidence. She spends half her life fearing men, because of her stepfather’s sexual abuse. Not only does the abuse have a vast effect on how she lets men mistreat her, but how it contributes to her not being unable to enjoy sex with men, instead turning to Shug. Only a woman can make her “button rise” or her “titties hard. ” The sweet, innocent childhood that the Brady Bunch or Family Matter children went through is unreal.
Parents abuse their children, which makes children go through hell, causing emotional problems for the child. Celie undergoes every type of abuse, and suffer dearly; much of her adult problems trace back to her childhood. Caddy is no different; her problems trace back to her parents neglect. Love, care, support— each factor is vital to a child. No child deserves to experience a horrible childhood. If today’s society wants to keep the heavenly innocent childhood image, then it better focus more at the abuse issue. Because at this very moment, someone is abusing a child.