Many things come to mind when you think of The Color Purple. Some may think of the film, the famous lines the book has produced, the characters, the relationship between two sisters. Whatever it may be, The Color Purple has left you with some sort of impact. With this month being all about black history, what better way to ring it in with Alice Walker’s most notable novel. Walker’s book had created waves in many platforms and will forever remain a classic read among our bookshelves. She takes the relationships of black African American families, places them in a time that is post slavery yet pre-integration, and awakens the voices that are often unheard. This story is inspiring as a particular woman named Celie discovers her value, her independence, and religious freedom. Walker doesn’t stray from highlighting the paramount issues black women faced during this time. As a way to express an enlightenment of women and of sexuality, Walker writes in way that defines being a “womanist.” The Color Purple without a doubt strikes many cords and resonates deep within.
“Dear God,” Celie writes. The book is divided into letters that are between two sisters, Celie and Nellie. Most of the letters are written from Celie’s point of view. Celie is a poor black women living the in the South; Georgia to be exact. Celie faces oppression and abuse from her father, husband, and the many people around her. Her only hope is in her younger sister, Nellie. When Celie is forced to marry and her sister forced to abandon her, Celie loses all faith in men and women alike. Throughout the letters, we see Celie living a life of servitude and Nellie dedicated to missionary work in Africa. Walker explores the time lapse between the two sisters as they both face life’s adversaries. Throughout the novel, we can see the transformation that takes places in Celie as she is introduced to a woman named Shug-a strong, and outspoken singer and performer. All throughout Celie’s life, she is referred to as ugly, poor, stupid, and many other lowly names. As the novel moves forward, we see Celie’s transformation and recognition of herself and rejection of the patriarchal system. The Color Purple is a story that harbors love, death, being black, and being a woman. Alice Walker created a masterpiece as well as a think piece for all those seeking answers from God, nature, or whatever we worship.
Writing a review about this novel is not easy. Mainly because despite some of the contemptible characters and muddled plot lines, this novel is a classic and a stand alone novel. I love how Walker writes in dialect, making the time and setting more authentic. Her writing and language are gritty, holding no bars. Walker is unapologetic and makes no excuses. This explores so many avenues about race, religion, and gender. It’s liberal and guttural, planting its feet beneath your ribs. It’s not a difficult read, however the subject matter is weighty. At times, the plot completely lost me and dragged on, but it echoes the time lost between the two sisters. I’m happy I decided to pick up the novel after so many years of hearing about the literary and cultural phenomenon. The Color Purple is a classic that will forever be cherished as one of the many great African American novels.