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The Color Purple by Alice Walker

The Color Purple (original 1982; edition 2006)

by Alice Walker

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11,845185224 (4.11)345
Title:The Color Purple
Authors:Alice Walker
Info:Mariner Books (2006), Edition: 1, Mass Market Paperback, 304 pages
Collections:Already Read, Your library
Tags:Already Read

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The Color Purple by Alice Walker (1982)

1980s (23)

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Showing 1-5 of 178 (next | show all)
i love the film but the book out does the film. there is so much more in the book.
they it is written is not what i would have expected, but it fits perfectly to the story.
loved it. ( )
  ritapt | Nov 13, 2014 |
The Color Purple by Alice Walker; (5+*)

I find The Color Purple to be as beautifully written today as it was when I read it for the first time upon it's release. Alice Walker was given a gift to put onto paper for the rest of the world to share with her.

"I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it."
(Shug to Celie)

"What I love best bout Shug is what she been through, I say. When you look in Shug's eyes you know she been where she been, seen what she seen, did what she did. And now she know."
(Celie to Mr.)

The Color Purple is a pure example of great and wonderful literature. Alice Walker proves the hardship of life for those less fortunate. The painful and hard things that Celie had to go through make you feel total compassion for the character.

One of the best qualities of a writer is being able to make the reader feel what the characters are feeling and in writing this book Alice Walker did just that.

I very highly recommend this book. ( )
2 vote rainpebble | Oct 7, 2014 |
(this review originally written for Bookslut)

I have to admit, I came to Alice Walker's The Color Purple with a lot of baggage. Of course I've seen the movie, who hasn't? But it was so long ago that most of it has faded, I only remember bits and snatches. Also, in high school I read Walker's Possessing the Secret of Joy, because I was obsessed with Tori Amos at the time, and "Cornflake Girl" was supposed to have been partially based on the novel. So it's fair to say I had a lot of expectations of The Color Purple.

Secondly, I should admit that bookslut or not, I have a few pet peeves when it comes to reading novels. (Don't we all?) This book irritated two of them right from the first line. To begin with, the book is written in epistolary form, which outside of books actually written in the 18th century, makes me cringe. I've just seen it used as a crutch, and done poorly, too many times. But that's a minor matter compared to my other objection to the book: it's written in dialect. If it hadn't been so long since I finished a 100 Books List book for Bookslut, I might have thrown the book aside.

But I'm glad I didn't. The epistolary form worked, and the dialect was just enough to flesh out the character of the narrator, not so much that you had to work really hard just to figure out what any particular word was supposed to mean. And Celie is one of the most sympathetic characters in the history of literature. Her life is undeniably horrible, but she perseveres, ostensibly because she has no idea that life can be different from what she's known. The one time she lashes out at anyone, telling her step-son Harpo that he should beat his wife, Sofia, no harm seems to come of it, but she comes to regret it anyway. Yes, Sofia leaves Harpo, but you get the idea that she would have anyway, as Harpo is not able to reconcile his wife's strong character with his image of what a father and husband should be, after watching his father beat both of his wives.

While we're on the topic of wife-beating, one of the most heard criticisms of The Color Purple is that it depicts black men unfairly. Personally, I don't see it. Yes the three main male characters are wife-beaters and child molesters. But Walker does not turn a blind eye to the social forces that eventually cause the men to lash out in frustration and rage. Further, Celie's son, Adam, and Nettie's husband, Samuel are shown as good, upright men, and even Albert, Celie's abusive husband, is given a chance to redeem himself in the end.

Aside from a few instances in the latter half of the book where Walker seems to deviate from telling the story of Celie and her family and launch into a lecture about one or another of her personal beliefs, this book is truly wonderful. Uplifting without shying away from poverty and misery, and honest without being overly negative. Perhaps it is a slightly guilty pleasure, but just because it's easy to read, that doesn't make it fluff, as the fact that The Color Purple won a Pulitzer Prize should attest. I certainly cannot praise this book any more eloquently than the hundreds who have gone before me, so I will simply say this: Walker has certainly earned her place on our list. ( )
1 vote greeniezona | Sep 20, 2014 |
“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.” – Shug Avery

In this book of letters written to God by Celie (main protagonist), Nettie (Celie’s younger sister) to Celie, and finally, Celie to Nettie, themes of strength amidst adversity, resilience, love, growth, forgiveness and topics of racism, rape, abuse of women, colonialism of Africa, family flood the pages filling our minds and hearts. The book doesn’t sugarcoat, and I thought ‘holy sh*t’ reading page 1. Cruelty and ambivalence permeate the first pages as Celie writes to god about her rape (at age 14) and her two children taken from her, the forced marriage to Mr. ___, and the abuse from Mr. ___ and his kids. Damn.

Celie, the kind, gentle soul, eventually wins over all those around her, including the mistress of Mr. ___, Shug Avery, who in turn becomes the love of her life. (Yes, that’s right, throw in some lesbianism too.) Celie finally loses her cool when she learns Mr. ___ has been hiding the letters from Nettie. Shug, the strong willed and life-wise singer, gives Celie the love she needed and the strength to make something of herself, and Celie does!

Nettie, forced to be separate from Celie because of Mr. ___, finds herself in the home of the adoptive parents of Celie children and ends up following them to Africa, to a village called Olinka and worked as a missionary.

Despite much mention of god and missionaries, I didn’t find the book to be preachy. In fact, this book has a self-deprecating quality that I appreciated. Not that I’m familiar with black or African American literature, I was *surprised* to read of Nettie raising/asking about the role of the fellow Africans who participated in the slave trade, meaning the in-power Africans handed over their fellow brothers knowing they will become slaves in the hands of these foreigners for financial gains. Nettie also was disappointed when the Olinka refused to acknowledge such part of history. Whoa, mind blown on my part. Also, the book stated the missionaries were never asked to come; they are convenient when wanted, but in the end, never truly part of the Olinka world.

Overall, a well told tale that touched my heart strings just right. Recommend!

Some Quotes:

On Being a Girl in the South – what a horridly difficult life:
“She say, All my life I had to fight. I had to fight my daddy. I had to fight my brothers. I had to fight my cousins and my uncles. A girl child ain’t safe in a family of men. But I never thought I’d have to fight in my own house. She let out her breath. I loves Harpo, she say. God knows I do. But dead son-in-law you just keep on advising him like you doing. She put her hand on her hip. I used to hunt game with a bow and arrow, she say.” (She = Sofia)

On Sex:
“Listen, she say, right down there in your pussy is a little button that gits real hot when you do you know what with somebody. It git hotter and hotter and then it melt. That the good part. But other parts good too, she say. Lot of sucking go on, here and there, she say. Lot of finger and tongue work.” (She = Shug)

On White Folks – this passage has a Langston Hughes’ “Ways of the White Folks” quality to it:
“So it end up with me and Jack driving her back home in the pick-up, then Jack driving me to town to git a mechanic, and at five o’clock I was driving Miz Millie’s car back to her house.
I spent fifteen minutes with my children.
And she been going on for months bout how ungrateful I is.
White folks is a miracle of affliction, say Sofia.”

On History and Slavery:
From Nettie: “’Hard times’ is a phrase the English love to use, when speaking of Africa. And it is easy to forget that Africa’s “hard times” were made harder by them. Millions and millions of Africans were captured and sold into slavery – you and me, Celie! And whole cities were destroyed by slave catching wars. Today the people of Africa – having murdered or sold into slavery their strongest folks – are riddled by disease and sunk in spiritual and physical confusion.”

On Black Beauty (not the horse :P) – I thought of Lupita Nyong'o when I read this:
From Nettie: “Tall, thin, with long necks and straight backs. …Because I felt like I was seeing black for the first time. And Celie, there is something magical about it. Because the black is so black the eye is simply dazzled, and then there is the shining that seems to come, really, from moonlight, it is so luminous, but their skin glows even in the sun.”

On Africans – another example of the self-deprecating quality I mentioned:
“I think Africans are very much like white people back home, in that they think they are the center of the universe and that everything that is done is done for them. The Olinka definitely hold this view. And so they naturally thought the road being built was for them.” (…and everything that follows eventually destroys the whole village)

On Love – Mr. ___ finally learning to open his heart, for real:
“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.”

On Love – Celie regarding Shug – I stared at this for a long time; if only I can reach this level of zen on love:
“If she come, I be happy. If she don’t, I be content.” ( )
1 vote varwenea | Aug 24, 2014 |
This book was so incredibly moving, that I was actually crying through the last few chapters. It is a very sad, very heartbreaking book, but it is also very hopeful.

I really liked the discussions Celie had with her husband about God and the purpose of life towards the end of the book, especially this exchange:

"Anyhow, he say, you know how it is. You ast yourself one question, it lead to fifteen. I start to wonder why us need love. Why us suffer. Why us black. Why us men and women. Where do children really come from. It didn't take long to realize I didn't hardly know nothing. And that if you ast yourself why you black or a man or a woman or a bush it don't mean nothing if you don't ast why you here, period.

So what you think? I ast.

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."

That to me is just beautiful and dead on.

This book was really, really incredible. I can really see why it won all the awards it did.
( )
  sammii507 | Aug 19, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 178 (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:
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You better not never tell nobody but God. It'd kill your mammy.
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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)

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