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The Color Purple

by

The Color Purple Cover

ISBN13: 9780156028356
ISBN10: 0156028352
Condition: Standard
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Excerpt

You better not never tell nobody but God. It'd kill your mammy.

Dear God,

I am fourteen years old. I am I have always been a good

girl. Maybe you can give me a sign letting me know what

is happening to me.

Last spring after little Lucious come I heard them fussing. He was pulling on her arm. She say It too soon, Fonso, I ain't well. Finally he leave her alone. A week go by, he pulling on her arm again. She say Naw, I ain't gonna. Can't you see I'm already half dead, an all of these chilren.

She went to visit her sister doctor over Macon. Left me to see after the others. He never had a kine word to say to me. Just say You gonna do what your mammy wouldn't. First he put his thing up gainst my hip and sort of wiggle it around. Then he grab hold my titties. Then he push his thing inside my pussy. When that hurt, I cry. He start to choke me, saying You better shut up and git used to it.

But I don't never git used to it. And now I feels sick every time I be the one to cook. My mama she fuss at me an look at me. She happy, cause he good to her now. But too sick to last long.

Dear God,

Mr. ______ finally come right out an ast for Nettie hand in marriage. But He won't let her go. He say she too young, no experience. Say Mr. ______ got too many children already. Plus What about the scandal his wife cause when somebody kill her? And what about all this stuff he hear bout Shug Avery? What bout that?

I ast our new mammy bout Shug Avery. What it is? I ast. She don't know but she say she gon fine out.

She do more then that. She git a picture. The first one

of a real person I ever seen. She say Mr. ______ was taking somethin out his billfold to show Pa an it fell out an slid under the table. Shug Avery was a woman. The most beautiful woman I ever saw. She more pretty then my mama. She bout ten thousand times more prettier then me. I see her there in furs. Her face rouge. Her hair like somethin tail. She grinning with her foot up on somebody motocar. Her eyes serious tho. Sad some.

I ast her to give me the picture. An all night long I stare at it. An now when I dream, I dream of Shug Avery. She be dress to kill, whirling and laughing.

Dear God,

I ast him to take me instead of Nettie while our new mammy sick. But he just ast me what I'm talking bout. I tell him I can fix myself up for him. I duck into my room and come out wearing horsehair, feathers, and a pair of our new mammy high heel shoes. He beat me for dressing trampy but he do it to me anyway.

Mr. ______ come that evening. I'm in the bed crying. Nettie she finally see the light of day, clear. Our new mammy she see it too. She in her room crying. Nettie tend to first one, then the other. She so scared she go out doors and vomit. But not out front where the two mens is.

Mr. ______ say, Well Sir, I sure hope you done change your mind.

He say, Naw, Can't say I is.

Mr. ______ say, Well, you know, my poor little ones sure could use a mother.

Well, He say, real slow, I can't let you have Nettie. She too young. Don't know nothing but what you tell her. Sides, I want her to git some more schooling. Make a schoolteacher out of her. But I can let you have Celie. She the oldest anyway. She ought to marry first. She ain't fresh tho, but I spect you know that. She spoiled. Twice. But you don't need a fresh woman no how. I got a fresh one in there myself and she sick all the time. He spit, over the railing. The children git on her nerve, she not much of a cook. And she big already.

Mr. ______ he don't say nothing. I stop crying I'm so surprise.

She ugly. He say. But she ain't no stranger to hard work. And she clean. And God done fixed her. You can do everything just like you want to and she ain't gonna make you feed it or clothe it.

Mr. ______ still don't say nothing. I take out the picture of Shug Avery. I look into her eyes. Her eyes say Yeah, it bees that way sometime.

Fact is, he say, I got to git rid of her. She too old to be living here at home. And she a bad influence on my other girls. She'd come with her own linen. She can take that cow she raise down there back of the crib. But Nettie you flat out can't have. Not now. Not never.

Mr. ______ finally speak. Clearing his throat. I ain't never really look at that one, he say.

Well, next time you come you can look at her. She ugly. Don't even look like she kin to Nettie. But she'll make the better wife. She ain't smart either, and I'll just be fair, you have to watch her or she'll give away everything you own. But she can work like a man.

Mr. ______ say How old she is?

He say, She near twenty. And another thing-She tell lies.

Dear God,

It took him the whole spring, from March to June, to make up his mind to take me. All I thought about was Nettie. How she could come to me if I marry him and he be so love struck with her I could figure out a way for us to run away. Us both be hitting Nettie's schoolbooks pretty hard, cause us know we got to be smart to git away. I know I'm not as pretty or as smart as Nettie, but she say I ain't dumb.

The way you know who discover America, Nettie say, is think bout cucumbers. That what Columbus sound like. I learned all about Columbus in first grade, but look like he the first thing I forgot. She say Columbus come here in boats call the Neater, the Peter, and the Santomareater. Indians so nice to him he force a bunch of 'em back home with him to wait on the queen.

But it hard to think with gitting married to Mr. ______ hanging over my head.

The first time I got big Pa took me out of school. He never care that I love it. Nettie stood there at the gate holding tight to my hand. I was all dress for first day. You too dumb to keep going to school, Pa say. Nettie the clever one in this bunch.

But Pa, Nettie say, crying, Celie smart too. Even Miss Beasley say so. Nettie dote on Miss Beasley. Think nobody like her in the world.

Pa say, Whoever listen to anything Addie Beasley have to say. She run off at the mouth so much no man would have her. That how come she have to teach school. He never look up from cleaning his gun. Pretty soon a bunch of white mens come walking cross the yard. They have guns too.

Pa git up and follow 'em. The rest of the week I vomit and dress wild game.

But Nettie never give up. Next thing I know Miss Beasley at our house trying to talk to Pa. She say long as she been a teacher she never know nobody want to learn bad as Nettie and me. But when Pa call me out and she see how tight my dress is, she stop talking and go.

Nettie still don't understand. I don't neither. All us notice is I'm all the time sick and fat.

I feel bad sometime Nettie done pass me in learnin. But look like nothing she say can git in my brain and stay. She try to tell me something bout the ground not being flat. I just say, Yeah, like I know it. I never tell her how flat it look to me.

Mr. ______ come finally one day looking all drug out. The woman he had helping him done quit. His mammy done said No More.

He say, Let me see her again.

Pa call me. Celie, he say. Like it wasn't nothing. Mr. ______ want another look at you.

I go stand in the door. The sun shine in my eyes. He's still up on his horse. He look me up and down.

Pa rattle his newspaper. Move up, he won't bite, he say.

I go closer to the steps, but not too close cause I'm a little scared of his horse.

Turn round, Pa say.

I turn round. One of my little brothers come up. I think it was Lucious. He fat and playful, all the time munching on something.

He say, What you doing that for?

Pa say, Your sister thinking bout marriage.

Didn't mean nothing to him. He pull my dresstail and ast can he have some blackberry jam out the safe.

I say, Yeah.

She good with children, Pa say, rattling his paper open more. Never heard her say a hard word to nary one of them. Just give 'em everything they ast for, is the only problem.

Mr. ______ say, That cow still coming?

He say, Her cow.

Dear God,

I spend my wedding day running from the oldest boy. He twelve. His mama died in his arms and he don't want to hear nothing bout no new one. He pick up a rock and laid my head open. The blood run all down tween my breasts. His daddy say Don't do that! But that's all he say. He got four children, instead of three, two boys and two girls. The girls hair ain't been comb since their mammy died. I tell him I'll just have to shave it off. Start fresh. He say bad luck to cut a woman hair. So after I bandage my head best I can and cook dinner-they have a spring, not a well, and a wood stove look like a truck-I start trying to untangle hair. They only six and eight and they cry. They scream. They cuse me of murder. By ten o'clock I'm done. They cry theirselves to sleep. But I don't cry. I lay there thinking bout Nettie while he on top of me, wonder if she safe. And then I think bout Shug Avery. I know what he doing to me he done to Shug Avery and maybe she like it. I put my arm around him.

Copyright © 1982 by Alice Walker

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced

or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work

should be mailed to the following address: Permissions Department, Harcourt, Inc., 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32887-6777.

First published by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1970

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Rue, March 30, 2012 (view all comments by Rue)
The Color Purple

The Color Purple, by Alice Walker, tells the story of two sisters, Celie and Nettie, one living in rural Georgia and the other in Africa during the 1920s. The epistolary structure of this novel develops the characters through the point of view of Celie and Nettie. The reader learns about Celie’s difficult life through her letters to God, which are later addressed to Nettie. The reader gains insight about Nettie’s travels once her letters are discovered. The epistolary style of this novel effectively uses different levels of diction, portrays the importance of strong female relationships, and makes a statement about the treatment of women in the 1920s.
The Color Purple consists of letters addressed back and forth from the two sisters, even though all are read through Celie’s point of view. This allows for a very personal touch on every event in the novel because it is through the perspective of either Celie or Nettie. Celie’s letters allow her to have a strong voice, “Dear God, I am fourteen years old. I have always been a good girl.” (1). This structure allows the characters to speak directly to the reader. The letters allow the reader to switch between the sisters’ stories and experience two settings at the same time. Since this novel only consists of novels, it does not have much setting description, rather it is overflowing with descriptions of feelings and emotions. The letters build off of each other and slowly intertwine more, and more.
The diction in The Color Purple reveals certain aspects of the character’s lives. Celie is uneducated and not allowed to go to school. When Celie is young Pa tells her, “You too dumb to keep going to school” (9). However, Nettie is allowed to be educated because their father believes she is “the clever one in this bunch” (9). It is apparent that Celie is uneducated through her use of low diction, “Not much funny to me. That funny. I laugh. She laugh. Then us both laugh so hard us flop down on the step” (42). Nettie is much more educated and the reader can see this through her use of middle diction, “Rain came down in spears, stabbing away the mud of their walls. The wind was so fierce it blew the rocks out of walls” (153). The way Nettie speaks is very comprehensible and even descriptive. The character’s level of diction informs the reader of the extensiveness of their education.
The Color Purple illustrates the importance of female relationships. Celie is verbally and physically abused by multiple men in her life, but she is able to fall back onto stable and loving relationships with women. One strong relationship in Celie’s life is the one she has with her sister, Nettie. Over the span of many years and miles the sisters stay loyal to each other by writing letters. Celie also has an enduring relationship with Shug, one of her husband’s friends that she becomes very close with. Celie and Shug’s relationship becomes so strong that Celie opens up to her about the difficult past. Despite the rough relationships that Celie has with men, her strong ties with women keep her grounded.
The ambiguity of the name of Celie’s husband, Mr. _____, makes a statement about the treatment of women in the 1920s. Mr. _____ treats Celie badly, “Dear God, Harpo ast his daddy why he beat me. Mr. _____ say, Cause she my wife.” (22). Mr. _____ represents the majority of men in the 1920s and how they disrespected their wives. Men dominated their wives and perceived them as keepers of the children and house. Walker makes a generalization of how women were treated.
The Color Purple, by Alice Walker, successfully makes a statement about the treatment of women and the importance of sturdy female relationships. Walker conveys these messages through creating a novel with an epistolary structure and utilizing different levels of diction. The letters in this novel slowly intertwine more, and more, until they seemingly become one.
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Michelle @ The True Book Addict, March 4, 2012 (view all comments by Michelle @ The True Book Addict)
One of my favorite films is The Color Purple. I actually didn't realize it until recently, as I was reading the book and it just happened to come on cable. I proceeded to watch it twice during the time of reading the book and I remembered how much I loved it. Well, the film in no way prepared me for how wonderful the book is. The film and the book are actually pretty close until it gets closer to the end. The ending in the book blows the movie away. The Color Purple is not just a story of a black woman who struggles with an abusive husband and missing a sister who she felt was the only person who ever loved her. It's a story of a community of black people who try to exist in a world of the white man's disdain and oppression. What makes the book so much better than the movie is that Walker allows the characters to grow in the end. There is a feeling of redemption for all of the characters, not just Celie. I liked it much better. Once again, the book prevails over the movie. Go figure.
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Georgeann, April 30, 2009 (view all comments by Georgeann)
Alice Walker successfully conveys various social issues through a distinct style and point-of-view in her award winning novel, The Color Purple. Her novel is written in Epistolary form, meaning it is structured through letterforms. Walker’s use of vernacular dialect in the letters, which she coined as “Black Folk English,” gives the novel an informal style to seem less intimidating towards men and women. Alice Walker breaks a racial barrier by writing about less than perfect African Americans in The Color Purple.

There are parallels between Alice Walker’s background and the protagonist’s, Celie’s, experiences. She was born in Eatonton, Georgia on a rural farming community, which is similar to the setting of The Color Purple. At the age of eight Walker was accidentally blinded in one eye by her brothers. She resorted to writing and poetry to fight the loneliness and alienation she received from her family. By the age of 14, she had her cataract in her eye removed and regained much of the confidence she lost. Moreover her situation is much like Celie’s, in the fact that at a young age she struggled with family and alienation.

The Color Purple begins by introducing Celie and her abusive father. To escape the pain, she resorts to writing letters addressed to “Dear God.” These letters serve as her diary while God represents someone to talk to. She shares her traumatizing experiences with God. Her father rapes her and also forces her into a marriage with Albert, more so known as Mr. ______. To her dismay, he also abuses her. Celie begins to realize that all the men in her life only cause her pain. She even says, “I don’t even look at mens. That’s the truth. I look at women, tho, cause I’m not scared of them”(5). Just when she thinks life cannot get much worse, Shug, Mr._______ ex-girlfriend, arrives and becomes her best friend. Shug recognizes Celie’s weakness towards men and Mr.________. She says, “I won’t leave…until I know Albert won’t even think about beating you”(75). Shug provides Celie a support system, and teaches her about sex, God, and the power of love. Celie begins to question why she believes in God, why she puts up with her husband’s abuse, and why “it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it”(196). Overall, Celie must learn to overcome her flaws of weakness by answering all the questions that cause her pain.

The Color Purple effectively suggests that woman have the power of a voice to make a difference in the world. Alice Walker uses her voice to break a racial barrier that exists between some whites and blacks. She did so by characterizing imperfect African Americans within her novel. Walker avoids stereotyping by conveying a larger statement about society: that everyone has flaws, but is able to overcome them with support and a positive self-esteem. Walker also specifically portrays that without an outlet to communicate with, the world is a harsh place to live in alone. The book achieved its goal by revealing that the “color purple” should not get overlooked. The color represents beauty and individuality, which should not be hidden amongst a wide range of green grass or the enormous blue sky. Walker successfully conveys Celie as this color; in the beginning of the novel she was unnoticed, and by the end of the novel she has a voice.

In all, Alice Walker shows a beautiful transformation of a young woman in The Color Purple. She does so through the distinct style, first person point-of-view, and various uses of literary devices. Walker’s presentations of social issues in the novel are significant in that they are commonly seen in society today.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780156028356
Author:
Walker, Alice
Publisher:
Mariner Books
Location:
Orlando, Fla.
Subject:
General
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Classics
Subject:
Abused wives
Subject:
Sagas
Subject:
Southern states
Subject:
Sisters
Subject:
Adult child sexual abuse victims
Subject:
Epistolary fiction
Subject:
Domestic fiction
Subject:
African-American women
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1st Harvest ed.
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Series Volume:
v. 21, issue 26
Publication Date:
20030528
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
from 9 to 12
Language:
English
Pages:
300
Dimensions:
8 x 5.31 in 0.6 lb
Age Level:
from 14

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The Color Purple Used Trade Paper
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Product details 300 pages Mariner Books - English 9780156028356 Reviews:
"Review" by , "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..."
"Review" by , "[A] work to stand beside literature of any time and place."
"Review" by , "Intense emotional impact....Indelibly affecting...Alice Walker is a lavishly gifted writer."
"Review" by , "Places Walker in the company of Faulkner."
"Synopsis" by , Published to unprecedented acclaim, The Color Purple established Alice Walker as a major voice in modern fiction. This is the story of two sisters — one a missionary in Africa and the other a child wife living in the South — who sustain their loyalty to and trust in each other across time, distance, and silence. Beautifully imagined and deeply compassionate, this classic novel of American literature is rich with passion, pain, inspiration, and an indomitable love of life.
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