A new man

According to Genesis, Adam is the name of the first man that God created in his image (see Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve, 'Second Adam'; Genesis 1:6-7; Genesis 2:15-25. He is Celie’s second child, who grows up in the home of his adoptive parents, Samuel and Corrine, in Africa where the family work for many years as missionaries to the Olinka tribe.

Like his adoptive father, Samuel, Adam is an intelligent and sensible young man with a positive attitude towards women. He is also full of energy and passion, eventually falling in love with Tashi, one of the girls from the Olinka tribe. Having grown up with her like a sister, Adam struggles with Tashi’s decision to undergo the ritual custom of facial scarring and female circumcision. However, unlike other males in the novel who force their women to comply and repress their own gentler instincts, Adam ultimately accepts the depth of his feelings for her (and possibly admires her courage and commitment to honour her heritage).

As a further act of solidarity, he decides to have the tribal scarring done to himself. When the family returns to America, the couple marry and Adam takes the last name of Omatangu, the name of the first African man created. By marrying Tashi and changing his name, Adam symbolically bridges Africa and America, and his respect for his wife and his voluntary deference to her tribal customs indicate a reversal of the patriarchal idea that a woman is subordinate to a man.

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