The Color Purple by Alice Walker

I recently read the Color Purple by Alice Walker and this is a review.

The Color Purple is a lovely novel about two sisters Celie and Nettie who grow up in Georgia in the 30s, and they sort of go through their lives. They are separated when they are quite young, and communicate through letters. For a long time Celie doesn’t really know where her sister is, and she doesn’t know who to talk to, so she writes her letters to God. After a while she sort of loses her faith in God and she receives letters from Nettie that her husband hid from her, and she starts writing to Nettie. Celie is forced to marry an older man with several children, and Nettie eventually leaves home to get away from their father. In her husband’s household Celie looks after his kids, invests no emotion in them, because she hates her life there. She also meets her husband’s mistress, Shug Avery, a blues singer. Celie and Shug start a relationship, and yeah.

It… wow. It was really incredible. It’s very blunt, and frank in its descriptions of violence and sex, which is interesting. There were moments that sort of caught me off guard, because I wasn’t expecting them, and I turned into an embarrassed teenager, but then I got used to how it was told, and it felt very natural that Celie wrote in this way, because it’s how she writes about everything.

Celie writes in what I assume is a Georgia dialect, she’s a young, black, uneducated woman in the early 20th century, so she doesn’t write standard English. It took me a little while to get used to it and read it sort of in the accent. I don’t know how a Georgian accent sounds, so I guess it was more of a stereotypical, possibly offensive, pan-southern accent. But when I got used to it the book flowed better and it felt easier to read it.

There is so much awfulness in this book. Celie’s life is full of just… oh God. She’s continuously raped by her father and the children that come of it are taken away from her and she thinks about them all the time. She’s also confronted by them, and can’t talk to them, because they live in the same town. She’s then pawned off basically, to a man who wants to marry her sister, and he forces her to look after her kids, and do whatever he wants. It’s just, there’s so much awful.

It’s also full of strong, badass, fucking ladies. Oh my God. While Celie seems submissive she is tough, she is able to get out of a terrible situation, and she’s strong and magical. And when she meets Shug she starts modeling herself on Shug. Shug Avery is a blues singer, and she is disdained by the people in town for being strong, and tough, and independent, but she takes no shit, she takes care of herself, and she takes care of others. She loves Celie, so she makes her lover treat Celie kindly when she leaves. Celie’s daughter-in-law, Sofia, is a magical elfling. She’s strong, and tough, she gives NO fucks. She’s awesome. And Nettie is incredible. She is young, and alone, basically, and she goes with her foster family, or… I don’t know what to call them, to Africa, as a missionary, because why not? She can’t speak the language, she’s young, and innocent, and she just goes anyway. Because she’s a tough cookie (I’m clearly 70 years old).

It’s beautiful, it’s hard, it made me cry, and I flew through it, and it was awesome.