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Women are not expected to learn and grow and to be themselves outside their relationship with men.This sense of powerlessness is often seen in literature about women such as "The Color Purple" Celie was powerless because she was ignorant of her inner self.Biology is not destiny, and I can become anyone I choose to.
What is quote means from a personal perspective is that I cannot buy into what others tell me about myself.
The only road to self knowledge, is to believe in oneself, and one's abilities and capability.
She did not have any true understanding of who she was, or that she was an intelligent and capable human being until Sug arrived in her life and helped her to learn about who she was.
This statement by Rich can also be interpreted to mean that women are vulnerable to societal influences just like any other human being, and when societal influences are telling them that they are worthless and powerless, than that is what they become, no matter how much education, or experience they have that tells them otherwise.
What this means is that culture teaches us that we are worthless except in how we are perceived by men.
This perspective teaches us to be aware of how men perceive us, but, tells us to ignore how we perceive ourselves.
She escapes only find out that she is in a relationship that is just as abusive as the father-daughter relationship that she had left.
As the novel progresses we see Celie develop a close friendship with Sug, this relationship helps Celie to move from powerlessness and oppression to having a sense of power and independence.
She states "He beat me today cause he say I winked at a boy at Church.
I may have got something in my eye but I didn't wink. This abuse leaves Celie powerless and she is so oppressed by her father's abuse that she is no longer capable of seeing herself as either capable or intelligent.