The Color Purple
Author: Alice Walker
Publisher: Penguin Books (re-published)
Publishing Date: 1982 (originally published); December, 2019 (re-published)
Genre: Epistolary Novel
Cost: Rs. 311 (Paperback), Rs. 192 (Kindle Edition), Rs. 9,621 (Hardcover)
Set in the deep American South between the wars, THE COLOR PURPLE is the classic tale of Celie, a young black girl born into poverty and segregation. Raped repeatedly by the man she calls 'father', she has two children taken away from her, is separated from her beloved sister Nettie and is trapped into an ugly marriage. But then she meets the glamorous Shug Avery, singer and magic-maker - a woman who has taken charge of her own destiny. Gradually Celie discovers the power and joy of her own spirit, freeing her from her past and reuniting her with those she loves.
The Color Purple depicts the lives of African American women in early twentieth-century rural Georgia. Separated as girls, sisters Celie and Nettie sustain their loyalty to and hope in each other across time, distance and silence.
Through a series of letters spanning twenty years, first from Celie to God, then the sisters to each other despite the unknown, the novel draws readers into its rich and memorable portrayals of Celie, Nettie, Shug Avery and Sofia and their experience. The Color Purple broke the silence around domestic and sexual abuse, narrating the lives of women through their pain and struggle, companionship and growth, resilience and bravery.
The book brings to surface- many serious topics like slavery, domestic violence, education and literacy, infidelity, religious belief, LGBTQ culture and colonialism. First half of the book appealed to me more than the second half. First half had life and struggles of Celie, Shug Avery, Sofia, and Mary Agnes and how they fought and changed their lives. Second half had letters from Nettie about Africa.
Female ties take many forms: some are motherly or sisterly, some are in the form of mentor and pupil, some are sexual, and some are simply friendships.
Those who exercise violence are themselves victims of violence, sexism, racism. For instance, here- ‘Mr. Harpo beats Sofia only after his father implies that Sofia’s resistance makes Harpo less of a man. Celie advises Harpo to beat Sofia because she is jealous of Sofia’s strength and assertiveness.’
Throughout the novel, Walker highlights and try to make us understand that gender and sexuality are not as simple as we may believe. Her novel rejects the traditional ways in which we understand sexuality of a person and defines the clear distinction of how men and women are supposed to be and how they really are!
Milestones of the Book:
- The book won the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
About the Author:
Poet, essayist, and novelist Alice Walker was born February 9, 1944, in Eatonton, Georgia, the eighth and last child of sharecroppers Willie Lee and Minnie Lou Grant Walker. She attended Spelman College and received a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College.
Her notable books of poetry include- Hard Times Require Furious Dancing (New World Library, 2010); A Poem Travelled Down My Arm: Poems And Drawings (Random House, 2003); Absolute Trust in the Goodness of the Earth (2003); Revolutionary Petunias and Other Poems (1973).
She is also a well-known fiction writer. Among her novels and short story collections are Possessing the Secret of Joy: A Novel (New Press, 2008); The Color Purple (1982), which won the Pulitzer Prize and American Book Award; and You Can't Keep a Good Woman Down (1981).
Walker has won numerous awards and honours, including the Lillian Smith Award from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rosenthal Award from the National Institute of Arts & Letters, a fellowship from the Radcliffe Institute, a Merrill Fellowship, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. She lives in Mendocino, California.
Her books have been translated into more than two dozen languages.