courtneysimonson, April 1, 2014 (view all comments by courtneysimonson)
The Color Purple by Alice Walker deals with the struggles of women during the early twentieth century and their desire to receive fair and equal treatment. The main character, Celie, writes for god about the abuse from her husband Mr.___ and later she writes to her sister Nettie, who is traveling around the world as a missionary. Nettie is one of the few people Celie trusts and this novel highlights Celie’s discovery of love and search for recollection and freedom. Throughout the story, Celie transforms herself from a housewife, into a strong independent woman.
This story is set in the southern part of Georgia during the early twentieth century. Males played a dominant role in the household during this time. In the book the main character, Celie is struggling to find happiness in her life. Growing up, her father abused her and she gave birth to two of his children. Celie later escapes the abuse of her father and gets married to Mr.___ who has ultimate control over her. He physically and verbally abuses Celie and he says “Men s’pose to wear the pants”. This quote shows that he believes men play the prominent role in the relationship. Mr.___ also has another woman on the side of Celie, Shug Avery. Shug wants to leave Mr.___ and Celie, but Celie tells Shug that he constantly hits her. Shug still leaves, but ends up returning home with a new Husband, Grady. Both Celie and Mr.___ are devastated that she is now married. Although Shug Avery is with Grady now, she is the first person to teach Celie how to love. Celie envies Shug and always comments about how perfect she is. The two females start to form a close friendship. Just like Celie desires, Shug starts to explain the meaning of love and life to Celie and the two become almost inseparable. “Us sleep like sisters, me and Shug” (146) The closer Celie gets to Shug, the more she learns about Mr.___ Celie’s sister Nettie had been writing Celie letters during all of her travels and she was hoping that Celie would receive the letters and reply to them. Later, Shug informs Celie that Mr.___ has been hiding her letters from Nettie. Celie is so mad at Mr.___ that she decides to leave him and travel to Tennessee with Shug and Grady. And now that she can finally read her sister’s letters she learns a lot about Nettie and what she has been doing. Nettie has been traveling with a couple, Samuel and Corrine. Also, they are accompanied by their adopted children Olivia and Adam. Through Nettie’s letters Celie learns that Olivia and Adam are her biological children. This is the part of the novel where Celie starts to become more independent and decides what she has to do in order to make herself feel happy. The ending of the story is heart warming and will leave readers on their feet.
The overall message of this story is that women should stand up against unfair treatments that they receive from men. Walker comments on the treatment of women and their ability to overcome it. The characters in this novel, especially the women, help each other learn how to love and how to find happiness. Each character found happiness in their own way. “I’m pore, I’m black, I may be ugly and can’t cook, a voice say to everything listening, but i’m here”. (207 ) Celie found her happiness by accepting who she is and learning to love herself and others. In this story and in this time period, women had to help each other overcome obstacles in order to make their lives better. The point of view in which this book is written in, gives the reader a more intimate look into the lives of Celie and Nettie. Alice Walker chose to write this book in the first person. The way that Celie writes, show the readers that she is uneducated. But the way that Nettie writes, shows the readers that she is somewhat educated and is interested in more thought out ideas. Although I did enjoy the personal perspectives of Celie and Nettie, but I think that it would've been nice to hear Shug Avery and Mr.___’s point of views.
The Color Purple by Alice Walker is an excellent story that highlights Celie’s journey of becoming independent and receiving equal rights. In the end, Celie came even closer to the equality that she ventured to. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a great love and discovery story. The book has a lot of ups and downs, but it ultimately teaches the reader that everyone has the ability to love and to create their own happiness.
Alex B, April 1, 2014 (view all comments by Alex B)
Alice Walker’s novel The Color Purple is an intense novel regarding various issues that are still prevalent in today’s world. These include gender roles, abuse, and self discovery and they are expressed through the main character Celie’s story. The entire novel is told through letters that Celie is writing to either God or her younger sister Nettie. When the novels begins, Celie is a fourteen year old girl who has not discovered independence. She is abused and raped by her step-father, and later sent off to marry a man named Albert ____. Her life never changes, until she meets a blues singer named Shug Avery. Shug assists Celie in becoming a strong and independent woman. Throughout the novel, readers experience Celie’s development with her and understand her struggle to become the person she wants to be. Alice Walkers novel The Color Purple is an emotional and eye opening novel that helps readers understand how love and affection can change a person. This book is an excellent read because of the dramatic change the main character Celie undergoes. This change forces readers to realize how love can cure even a person as damaged as she is.
The background info behind this novel is extremely important when attempting to discern the plot. The story takes place in the rural south of Georgia around the 1920’s-30’s. Readers will have a better understanding of the different actions and conversations within the novel if they know this information. During these times, it was normal for women to be abused by their spouses or family. Celie’s abuse was common for many women of this time period. Also, the diction is very normal for a southern black woman of this time period. Celie was uneducated, and this can be seen through her grammar within her letters. Knowing this background information helps readers go into the novel with an open mind and further appreciate the novel’s value.
The novel opens when Celie is fourteen years old. She is writing letters to God regarding her life. Her mother has recently died, and she is constantly abused and raped by her step-father, whom she calls Pa. Celie will do anything to protect others over herself, especially her younger sister Nettie. At one point in the novel, she tells us, “I ast him to take me instead of Nettie while our mammy sick. But he just ask me what I’m talking bout. I tell him I can fix myself up for him” (8). Celie does not want her sister endure what she has to, so she continues to offer herself even if she does not want to. Celie has two children because of Pa, however he sold both of them without her consent. Once Celie is a couple years older, Pa sends her away to marry Mr. ______. With him she is still unloved and abused. Celie becomes Mr. _____’s slave. She cooks, cleans, works in the fields, and takes care of his children, especially his son Harpo. One day, Celie’s idol Shug Avery, a blues singer, comes to Mr. _____’s house because she is sick. Shug was once in a relationship with Mr._____, so he has allowed her to stay at his home. Celie nurses Shug Avery back to health, and eventually they become best friends. Shug changes Celie’s life. She teaches Celie to have her own opinions, and eventually Celie becomes strong and independent. After a while, Celie decides to write her letters to her sister Nettie rather than God. Celie believes her sister has died because she has not written, however she and Shug discover that Albert has been hiding Nettie’s letters from them. Once they steal the letters from Mr. _____, they discover that Nettie has gone to Africa, and is with Celie’s two children. Reading these letters gives Celie even more hope, and her individualism continues to grow. Celie then decides to move to Memphis with Shug. In the end of the novel, Celie discovers the love and happiness that she ahs been longing for throughout her whole life. She returns to Albert’s house, and their relationship is better than it ever was before. He treats her with respect and no longer looks at her like a slave. She is now self sufficient and confident. She begins making pants for money and it is something that she enjoys, but most importantly it’s something that she does for HERSELF. In the very end, Nettie comes home with Celie’s two children, Adam and Olivia, and Celie claims “I think this the youngest us ever felt” (295).
Throughout the entire novel, Walker teaches readers that even the most damaged people can be saved through love. She explains this message through her use of point of view. Through Celie’s letters, readers gain a more honest view of each character and how they shape her life. If the story was not in Celie’s point of view, readers would not understand her thoughts because she is not an outspoken person. Her narration helps with the idea of love being the cure for loneliness because readers get to experience this love with her. They understand that Mr. _____ and Pa damaged Celie because they did not love her. She explains the readers how miserable she isbut this would only be known from her point of view. Also, through her descriptions of Shug, they learn about the love the two characters share, and how that saves Celie. She used to feel lost and alone, however once she discovered love, she felt more alive than she had in years.
Alice Walker’s novel The Color Purple is a strong novel that relates to issues such as gender roles, abuse, and self-discovery that are still very relevant to today. Celie was once lost, however through the love of Shug Avery, she gained strength, independence, and most importantly hope. The unique characteristics of this novel make the plot realistic, which then makes the story more enjoyable. I would strongly recommend this novel to anyone that has an open mind on the various issues discussed throughout the novel. The Color Purple is an eye-opening book that teaches readers to not only love others, but to love themselves as well.
anna g, May 3, 2010 (view all comments by anna g)
Approaching Alice Walker’s novel The Color Purple, one may think of her as the next Zora Neale Hurston. With similar ideas, Walker’s novel tells the story of a young 14 year old African American girl named Celie. Throughout the novel, Celie endures gender abuse along with figurative voice deprivation and various life struggles. The purpose of this novel is to bring into light some themes such as independence and the power of communication which are normally overlooked. The audience for this book consists of anybody willing to read with an open mind. This book contains controversial same-sex love and can be offensive to some. Overall, I thought the book was an enjoyable yet inspiring read and I would give the novel 4 out of 5 stars. In order to better understand the novel, background information is important to learn.
Background information is key to placing the novel in context. The book takes place in rural Georgia during the time period of 1910-1940. This was a time when race was a huge issue and gender roles were confined to stereotypical thought. Don’t judge the book based on language or ideas. The language is set to resemble that of the Deep South in the 1900s. It is somewhat difficult to understand, however it reflects the time period well. Also, the ideas presented in the novel are based off of historical ideas so keep an open mind to what is being presented. A summary of the main points of the book can also be intertwined with themes.
The themes of the novel are as relevant today as they were in the 1900s. The main ideas consist of the power of voice and gender abuse/sexism. The power of voice is an extremely important theme to the novel. The struggle to find one’s voice is the struggle to find one’s own self. In the beginning, Celie’s rape experience forces her to become silent and reserved. In this case, Celie denies any voice that she may have for the safety of her own self. During the novel, Celie befriends Sofia and Shug Avery who lend her their ears in order for Celie to find her voice. Throughout the novel, Celie begins telling her story to Shug Avery which helps Celie express her feelings verbally. Celie uses her new voice and power to put Mr. ___ in his rightful place. Walker’s intent when using this theme is to show the positives and negatives of self narrative. Walker believes it is entirely well to possess self knowledge and voice; however, the consequences of boisterous voice can be dangerous.
In addition to the power of voice, sexism is also a huge issue discussed in the novel. In this novel, sexism can even be applied unto the men of the novel. The men are supposedly the “bad guys” in the novel. Most of these men are victims of sexism themselves. For example, Harpo, Mr. ____’s son, beats Sofia only because his father told him he was not a man because he refrained from beating his inferior wife. Even Mr. _____ is aggressive because that’s how his own family was raised. The novel is based on the oppression of women. Women are constantly beaten and deprived of rights by the men. This theme is constant throughout the novel, but in the end enlightens Celie to be all that she can. Finally, to get to the heart of the review, I evaluated the book based off a scale of 5 stars.
Personally, I gave the book 4 out of 5 stars. I thought the book achieved its goals of highlighting several themes through character development, point of view, and motifs very well. In addition to the highlighted themes, Walker also discusses the struggles of African life and imperialism with the incorporation of letters from Celie’s sister, Nettie. I don’t feel that the book left out any important issues that would be relevant to the time period. On another note, I feel the book was very similar to Zora Neale Hurston’s novel Their Eyes Were Watching God. Both novels incorporate the themes of sexism and gender struggles, and both include the woman protagonist that seeks God for liberation. This would make apparent the similarities between Walker and Hurston as Walker tries to bring back Hurston’s central ideas. Also, the author’s control of plot and character impacted my reading.
Walker advances the plot with the use of letters. This type of novel is called Epistolary. In the beginning, the letters are addressed to God. Later, the letters become addressed to Nettie, Celie’s sister. These letters correspond with Celie’s character development as well. As Celie gains her independent voice, the letters become more complex in nature. Also, her address to God becomes, “Dear God. Dear stars, dear trees, dear sky, dear peoples. Dear Everything. Dear God” (285). This displays her religious awakening as Celie learns that God is what she makes “it.” I found the thought behind this cleverness to be extremely remarkable. I would have never thought to associate the letters with character development. It puts the novel above the rest in thought process and makes for an interesting read.
In conclusion, The Color Purple by Alice Walker highlights central themes such as the power of voice and sexism that are still relevant today. The novel achieved its goals by provoking the mind with several new issues and provided for an interesting read. Overall, I would give this book 4 out of 5 stars and would definitely recommend it to anyone with an open mind.
Laura Harrington, November 24, 2009 (view all comments by Laura Harrington)
Reading this book takes some effort. You need to stop and reread some areas to be sure you have the content correctly interpreted. It is worth every ounce of effort you have to put into it.
Having read this before the movie came out I was not sure I could watch the movie and make it through. It brings up emotional responses whether you are black or not and whether you are a woman or not.
As a result of this book I feel like I have a much better appreciation for black women of the time and place and stature in the American historical experience.
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by Mel Watkins, The New York Times,
"The cumulative effect is a novel that is convincing because of the authenticity of its folk voice....a striking and consummately well-written novel. Alice Walker's choice and effective handling of the epistolary style has enabled her to tell a poignant tale of women's struggle for equality and independence..."
by The San Francisco Chronicle,
"[A] work to stand beside literature of any time and place."
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