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Color Purple by Alice Walker

Color Purple (original 1982; edition 2003)

by Alice Walker

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12,326195205 (4.11)379
Title:Color Purple
Authors:Alice Walker
Info:Harcourt Brace Jovanovich (2003), Edition: Later Printing, Paperback
Collections:Your library

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The Color Purple by Alice Walker (1982)

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1980s (20)
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The Color Purple is the story of two African American sisters who grow up in the South in the first part of the twentieth century. They escape their abusive father, Celie was given away in marriage as a very young girl to an abusive husband, and Nettie meets a black family that takes her along on a mission trip to Africa. This book is told through letters. Celie writes to God in journal form and later to Nettie and Nettie writes to Celie of her experience in Africa. They eventually meet up and see each other again at the very end for the first time in a very long time.

Personal Reaction:
I absolutely love this book. The movie is very good as well. It is a very moving story but very sad and heartbreaking but hopeful!

Classroom Extension Ideas:
1) This would be a good book to read in class for Juniors and Seniors
2) Have the students write a review over the book
2) Have a class discuss about racism, abuse, and what it was like in the twentieth century.
  connorshayne | Oct 28, 2015 |
Excellent - story of Celie - black, poor - + letter to god, her sister lost 40 yrs. Shug - friend, Nettie sister

Taking place mostly in rural Georgia, the story focuses on the life of women of color in the southern United States in the 1930s, addressing numerous issues including their exceedingly low position in American social culture.
  christinejoseph | Sep 6, 2015 |
Don't be put off by the author's cringe-inducing preface; this is one of the best novels ever written.

Very cleverly done, the way that the characters reflect each other and how the language itself reflects the growth of Celie. I don't agree with Walker's view of God but even I have to admit that its presentation here is artistically correct. I loved how Celie's turning from her conception of God as a white man to something pantheistic is reflected in her grasping of her own spirit and the physicality of the world. ( )
  Lukerik | May 20, 2015 |
this book just broke me open. i cried almost the whole way through it, for all kinds of reasons.

i'm surprised how much of it i didn't remember. turns out almost nothing was familiar after about 40% of the way through even though this was probably the 4th time i've read it. i'd also forgotten how she just jumps right in with the hard stuff. you don't get any time to settle in because she throws you a 14 year old pregnant by her father about 3 paragraphs in. and this is how it should be, because there's no settling in for celie and there's no getting comfortable for the community.

i'm not sure i've read a book before where the entire thing - except the first sentence - was written in letters. it wasn't just a letter here and there to inform us of something or to use the epistolary format in part of this book. it's the entire book. and this tells us so much more about the characters and gives us a sense of place so much better than narration can do. it's used so well here and to such good effect. and when nettle's letters are hidden from celie, which i always think of as one of the most heart-wrenching things in all of literature, we feel the loss, too, because we're also missing these letters in a book that's told only through letters. but seriously, this part always makes me want to crawl into the pages of this book and rip mr's head off with my bare hands.

there is just so much in this book. racism, obviously. intra-racial racism, incest, rape, domestic violence, colonialism and native traditions, and even the current (as if it hasn't been going on for 400 years) situation of punishing black people excessively (sofia was slapped and when she responded she not only got beat up so badly she almost died and was disfigured and blinded, but she got 12 years in jail for it) and exclusively. and religion and god - and i've said before that i don't like either in books i read, unless it's exposing hypocrisy - but i like everything she says in here, even as i don't believe in either. and talk about strong female characters. this book is chock full of them, from sofia to shug to nettie and celie to mary agnes. even eleanor jane, when she found out why sofia came to work for her family, defied tradition and racist society. some of the people (men and women) might come off as weak to start with, but their strength really emerges as the book progresses. even mr grows into himself and becomes stronger for it.

one thing that surprised me on this reading was how central lesbianism was to celie's character. i really hadn't read it that way before, somehow, and had felt like there were just a couple of places in the book that highlighted her queerness at all, and that shug felt more sorry for celie than anything else. turns out it's through and through a love story between them, and it's clear from the get-go that celie is a lesbian. shug isn't, but she also does love celie.

and it's a love story of a community and a people and there is forgiveness and beauty and i cried like a baby that this one came with a happy ending.

it might sound funny to say that this is a beautifully written book, because it's not lyrical and the language isn't music on the page, but it absolutely is beautiful. i love this book. i am so glad to have read it again.

"My head drop so it near bout in my glass.
Then I hear my name.
Shug saying Celie. Miss Celie. And I look up where she at.
She say my name again. She say this song I'm bout to sing is call Miss Celie's song. Cause she scratched it out of my head when I was sick.
First she hum it a little, like she do at home. Then she sing the words....I look at her and I hum along a little with the tune.
First time somebody made something and name it after me."

"What God do for me I ast.
She say, Celie! Like she shock. He gave you life, good health, and a good woman that love you to death.
Yeah, I say, and he give me a lynched daddy, a crazy mama, a lowdown dog of a step pa and a sister I probably won't ever see again. Anyhow, I say, the God I been praying and writing to is a man. And act just like all the other mens I know. Trifling, forgitful and lowdown.
She say, Miss Celie, You better hush. God might hear you.
Let 'im hear me, I say. If he ever listened to poor colored women the world would be a different place, I can tell you."

"Why any woman give a shit what people think is a mystery to me." ( )
  elisa.saphier | May 3, 2015 |
This well known novel packs a powerful punch. The story is told to us entirely through the narration and letters written by and to Celie, an African-American girl who comes of age in the South at the turn of the century. It follows Celie's life from the time she is 19 and married off by her abusive father (who she has secretly had 2 children by). The story how Celie manages to grow and eventually triumph as a person despite all that happens to her and all that she is lacking at the beginning of the story. Many people--good and bad--come into her life but the ones who are good teach her and help her tremendously. Abuse, sexuality, religion, faith, and family relationships are all explored and some of the experiences Celie has are so extraordinary and powerful they (and she) will linger with the reader long after the book is put down. The illuminating thing is that these experiences are not so out of the ordinary when considered in the context of what many American women of color experienced during this time. Definitely a powerful book that should be read and talked about. ( )
  debs4jc | Apr 10, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 188 (next | show all)
Walker accomplishes a rare thing: She makes an epistolary novel work without veering into preciousness. Rather, Celie's full-bodied voice emerges, a moody and honest voice, in an inherently intimate literary form.
Without doubt, Alice Walker's latest novel is her most impressive. No mean accomplishment, since her previous books - which, in addition to several collections of poetry and two collections of short stories, include two novels ("The Third Life of Grange Copeland" and "Medridian") - have elicited almost unanimous praise for Miss Walker as a lavishly gifted writer

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Walker, Aliceprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dam, Irma vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Juva, KerstiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"Show me how to do like you. Show how to do it." -Stevie Wonder
To the Spirit:
Without whose assistance
Neither this book
Nor I
Would have been
First words
You better not never tell nobody but God. It'd kill your mammy.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Tells the story of two African-American sisters: Nettie, a missionary in Africa, and Celie, a child-wife living in the south, in the medium of their letters to each other and in Celie's case, the desperate letters she begins, "Dear God."
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0671727796, Mass Market Paperback)

Winner of the National Book Award as well as the Pulitzer Prize, "The Color Purple" established Alice Walker as a major voice in modern fiction. Her unforgettable portrait of Celie and her friends, family, and lovers is rich with passion, pain, inspiration, and an indomitable love of life. Beautifully imagined and deeply compassionate, "The Color Purple" is a classic of American literature.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:51 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Set in the deep American South, The color purple is the story of Celie, a young black girl born into extreme poverty and segregation. Raped repeatedly by the man she calls 'father', she is then given by him to a violent man. Later she meets Shug Avery, a glamorous singer, who gives her the courage to take charge of her life.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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