The Color Purple by Alice Walker
The Color Purple follows the lives of two sisters, Celie and Nettie. Even though they are close, they spend most of their lives separately. Celie is married off to a widower, Albert, to work hard raising his rotten children and keeping his house. For all her hard work, she receives beatings for not being the woman Albert really loved, Shug Avery. When Shug comes to live with them, Shug gives the love and respect to Celie she had never had. This relationship helps Celie to discover her own independence and happiness. Meanwhile, Celie has no idea what happened to her sister. Nettie joined a family of missionaries and went to Africa. The missionaries’ children turn out to be Celie’s natural children, born from forced relations with her step-father. Despite the bleak and bittersweet tone, this character-driven novel is fascinating. The story is told by Celie and Nettie as letters written to God or her sister. The writing is eloquent, and the use of dialect enhances the book. Even though the book begins with disturbing circumstances, it becomes a moving and beautiful story about women becoming independent, religious, and content with life.
I was surprised how much I loved this book. At first, I was concerned this was going to be as disturbing as Toni Morrison’s novels. Opening a book on what appears to be a familial rape scene is not what I expect. However, I quickly became interested in Celie’s character and life. The beginning of the novel is very bleak, but the writing slowly brings in slivers of light and hope into Celie’s life, until her whole life is sunlight. She gains confidence, courage, independence, and gains an understanding of her own sexuality through the novel. Her journey is uplifting. The story is also really well written. I must admit that I did listen to the audio book. I expect the dialect may be harder when reading, but listening to the author read the story all dialect and word choice seemed perfect. I enjoyed this book enough to suggest it to others to read.