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The Color Purple by Alice Walker

The Color Purple (original 1982; edition 2003)

by Alice Walker

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11,439None236 (4.11)309
Title:The Color Purple
Authors:Alice Walker
Info:Harcourt (2003), Edition: Later Printing, Paperback
Collections:To read

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The Color Purple by Alice Walker (1982)

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Showing 1-5 of 166 (next | show all)
One of the best banned books ever. ( )
  Mykake | Mar 23, 2014 |
Too depressing. Not gonna watch the movie or see the musical either.
  ClosetWryter | Mar 3, 2014 |
Purple is for pride, didn't you know? Purple is the royal pride to boot, the one that can afford full protection and wears its self-assumed precious state on its sleeve. There's some in love and some in hate and some, perhaps the most, in the calm reserve that takes what it gets and builds itself a home. For purple is also piety, and the potential of the purpling palimpsest is breathtaking.

If you look up 'purpling', you will find both a transformation and an act of love, the latter grounded in gendered stereotypes but, for our purposes, will be pruned of its connotations and left as a simple affection. No lust, no obsession, nothing of the usual pride of desiring and feeling oneself more than worthy of receiving reciprocation. That was stripped before the pages even began, a summary of rape and pain and separations all along the spectrum of self and self-worth.

It is not a mark of the author, but the reader, if this beginning is more believed in than the final ending. Too pat and contrived they say, too much that a being both woman and black would take thirty years to find peace of mind. Or perhaps it's the duality that so hard to swallow, two sisters in such disparate circumstances each discovering a measure of resolve upon which to thrive. Perhaps it's the lack of fight and final 'success' on each and every frontier that the readers object to, the concept that you can't always get what you want and yet. And yet.

And yet in the face of all the hate and straightened circumstances, two girls become wizened lovers of life. Through the weaving of cloth and of thought, each discover their methodology of creation, remembering where they came from and going forward nevertheless. They forgive, they relish, they come to grips with the facts of sexism and racism and colonialism and deconstruct their God accordingly. They are not even the only ones, as myriad family and friends inspire and are inspired by these two souls, traversing their own ways in the sorrow and joy that always accompanies the search for personal truth. A time for anger, a time for acceptance, and the prodigal others all along the path.

What matters here is not the means by which they achieve their ends, or that they achieved them at all. What matters is the thought enabled by fruitful discovery, the meanderings of the mind over what it means to find value in existence day in, day out. The majority of literature was penned by those blessed by all varieties of sociocultural windfalls, so it should be no surprise when characters find their philosophical footing as a result of fortuitous regeneration. Decry the believability all you like, but if that little was enough for you to forget the life-affirming themes galore, grown through every slow and subtle machination of time and circumstance, be sure to treat the rest of your readings accordingly. I guarantee a sharp decrease in once favored pieces if you're honest, or objective, if that's the vernacular with which you appease yourself.

I think us here to wonder, myself. To wonder. To ast. And that in wondering bout the big things and asting bout the big things, you learn about the little ones, almost by accident. But you never know nothing more about the big things than you start out with. The more I wonder, he say, the more I love.

There are no name drops or modes of thought approved by academia here, but if you're truly open minded, you will recognize the mixing and melding of universal experience without any need for labels. This is as fine a contemplation of small winners in the midst of brutal reality as any, a flowering of humanity with full knowledge of every level of high and low, all the more worthy of attention for its status as a rare breed of literature. The latter has no affect on quality, but in terms of building a common humanity on the backs of pride and piety, on the steps of believing the self worth having and finding the others worth cherishing, in the color purple, it is worth everything. ( )
2 vote Korrick | Mar 2, 2014 |
Because of the brutality of some male characters, and the awful effects on women and children, The Color Purple often is upsetting to read, particularly in the first half of the book. Yet at the same time it is beautifully written by Alice Walker. She convincingly conveys the voices in this rural Georgia community, and not only creates many memorable characters, but allows them to learn and grow.

It takes place from the early 1900s to the 1940s. At its center is Celie, a poor, black woman who has lived in a nightmare of abuse from the man she believes is her father. Two children who result are taken from her, and she helps her younger sister Nettie escape before she suffers the same. Celie then is married off to a widower with four children who doesn't love her. He wants a maid and a mother for the kids, and an occasional sexual outlet. Thinking little of Celie, he beats her simply "{c}ause she my wife." Celie accepts everything stoically, but we know her inner feelings from letters she writes to God, and eventually, to her lost sister Nettie. We learn that she and Albert both are entranced by Shug Avery, an attractive, full of life blues singer who won't let anyone tell her how to live her life.

The story is told through Celie's letters, and through Nettie's letters to Celie. Nettie has become a missionary in Africa after escaping, and her experiences there at times are a beatific contrast to what Celie is experiencing. She tells Celie, "try to imagine a city full of these shining, blueback people wearing brilliant blue robes with designs like fancy quilt patterns. Tall, thin, with long necks and straight backs. Can you picture it at all, Celie? Because I felt like I was seeing black for the first time." But the village has a shameful legacy, as ancestors sold other blacks into slavery. And there are problems there, as well, with male domination and the village's unyielding commitment to old ways. Nettie eventually contemplates returning with her husband and children to Celie''s community.

With Shug's help, Celie leaves Albert and relocates to Memphis, where she begins to develop her own business designing and sewing simple, useful clothing. She is emotionally supported by Sofia, Albert's fierce daughter-in-law who stands up to Albert's son, and to the white mayor of the community and his wife. Celie's departure and personal evolution unexpectedly begin to affect Albert as well, as he is forced to take care of himself and reassess his way of living. Shug comes to love Celie, and together they begin to have a healthy, sexually satisfying relationship. Albert eventually says to Celie, "It don't surprise me you love Shug Avery. I have love Shug Avery all my life... I told Shug it was true that I beat my wife cause you was you and not her... some womens would have just love to hear they man say he beat his wife cause she wasn't them. ...But Shug spoke right up for you, Celie. She say, Albert, you been mistreating somebody I love. So as far as you concern, I'm gone."

I particularly liked how the author let the characters develop and mature in the book. Most notably, Celie, who begins with no belief in her own worth at all, comes to a hard-won wisdom and stability. Shug, and Albert, and others, come to more honestly view themselves and how they want to live. After Celie returns to the community, she and Albert even begin to sit out on the porch together, just to talk and pass the time. She tells Nettie in a letter, "I mean when you talk to him now he really listen, and one time, out of nowhere in the conversation us was having, he said Celie, I'm satisfied this the first time I ever live on Earth as a natural man."

How does God fit into their lives? At one point, a disgusted Celie says, "the God I've been praying to is a man. And {he} act just like all the other mens I know. Trifling, forgitful and lowdown." Shug tries to convince her of a different view, that God just wants admiration: "Not vain, just wanting to share a good thing. I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it." As they all gather near the porch toward the end of the book, we see they each in their own way have learned to how to notice. ( )
4 vote jnwelch | Feb 11, 2014 |
For those who haven't read the book...There may be a spoiler or two...

When it came out in the 1980's, like most others, I watched it and fell in love with the movie.

It wasn't until last year that I picked up this book and attempted to read it. Again, this was a book I wasn't quite sure how I'd feel about it. It took me a bit to get into it because the beginning of the movie was always hard for me to deal with. But once I got past that part, and got further into the story, I really began to love it. And of course, I loved it more than the movie.

Of course, there were details in the book that wasn't in the movie. And it answered some questions I had...Like, what happened to the man Shug Avery married.

And what type of relationship Shug and Cellie actually had. And Cellies True feelings for her.

And I found out that Cellie & Mister actually became friends in the book. {Which they didn't show in the movie}.

I fell so in love with this book I didn't want it to end. I found myself not really even wanting to watch the movie any more because of it...lol...

But I still do love the movie....

Anyone who loved the movie, and maybe even love Alice Walker books but haven't read this one...It's very much worth reading. Or even if you don't like her books and haven't read this one...Its worth reading. I don't like Alice Walkers other books {I've tried reading them and couldn't get into them} but this one will always be on my top 10 favorite books I believe. ( )
  BridgetsBookNook | Feb 6, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 166 (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

» Add other authors

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
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You better not never tell nobody but God. It'd kill your mammy.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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."
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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:01:45 -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)

» see all 13 descriptions

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