The Color Purple
by Alice Walker
Paperback, 288 pages
Published on: May 22nd 1992 (first published 1982)
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
The Color Purple’s deeply inspirational narrative, coupled with Walker’s prodigious talent as a stylist and storyteller, have made the novel a contemporary classic of American letters.
My reason for picking up The Color Purple at the bookstore was simple. It was my favourite color. But, before I started it, I came to know that it was highly praised by critics and had a movie based on it too. It was supposedly a classic. The biggest thing was that it had won a Pulitzer Prize too! Naturally, I was eager to read it.
Celie is a poor black woman whose letters tell the story of twenty years of her life, beginning at age fourteen when she is being abused and raped by her father and attempting to protect her sister from the same fate, and continuing over the course of her marriage to “Mister,” a brutal man who terrorizes her. Celie eventually learns that her abusive husband has been keeping her sister’s letters from her and the rage she feels, combined with an example of love and independence provided by her close friend Shug, pushes her finally toward an awakening of her creative and loving self.
More than half of the book is written in broken English. It is so because it is a narration/diary of Ceilie who knows little of reading and writing. Walker has skilfully crafted several themes in the book like slavery, colonialism, racial discrimination and over the loads and loads of information she gives us about the twentieth century makes her really worth a Pulitzer.
She’s done a remarkable job of indicating the discrimination at that age. She got into the skin of her character and has been marvellous at showing how downtrodden women were at that time. And how ignorant people were. And it is unfortunate, some people still are as bad as they were then.
I love the character of Celie. She has such horrible self-esteem but tells things exactly how they are when it comes to situations and other people. I also liked how she was contrasted next to Shug as a strong female character.
There’s no doubt anyone would hate Ceilie bloody father, but I hated her husband Mr.____ too. You must be wondering who this Mr.____ was. Ah, that is how he was named all through the book. We didn’t have his name anywhere in the book. I wish he had a specific name. So, Mr.____ was an aggressive man who abused Celie, and took advantage of her in many ways. He beat her for no reason, married her because probably he wanted a nanny for his children and kept her because he wanted to sleep with her.
Alice Walker again proves her Pulitzer-worthy skills by potraying different sides of black women in different characters. While Ceilie was submissive, Sophia was a rebel. While Shug was considered to be a slut singing around here and there, Nettie was on a noble mission to educate people down in Africa.
The book was beautiful and moving in its way, yet ultimately failed to excite me in the author seems to expect. To me, this book dragged on and on. At times I really did wonder what the point of the story was all about, and it felt like it was going nowhere.
Yes, I know the book is about a woman who was abused by a father, a husband and invariably didn't know what it was like to exist in a normal life but sometimes it was written in such a monotonous way that I longed to put an end to it. I merely felt that every page I turned, the author was re-writing the pages I'd just finished. Like the old saying, "Same nonsense, different day."
While the letters by Nettie from Africa were nicely done and are my favourite part of the book, but on the whole, the book bored me to death. There was an excessive sexual content in the book and what killed me was the broken English. It confused me throughout the plot. I know it was necessary but still feel that I might have liked it better if normal English had been employed.
If you are one of those serious feminists, and like reading about lives of earlier people, you might like it. But, the risk would be entirely yours. And who knows, if you read it you may give it an A, since it is one those Pulitzer kinds.
Review originally published on: http://vaultofbooks.com/c/review-the-color-purple