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The Color Purple

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Alice Walker - The Color Purple - 1982

 

I cannot believe there is no thread for this novel. It is one of the best stories I have ever read. They story of a woman who seems to have no rights whatsoever and manages to get out of the hell she lives in with the help of others but mainly by being very strong herself. Alice Walker received the well-deserved Pulitzer price for this in 1983.

If you haven't read this book you certainly have heard about it or watched the movie (which is also very good, by the way). The story includes everything, joy and pain, family, religion, violence, rape, destruction, resurrection, racism, poverty.

The book starts when the main character, Celie, is fourteen. She lives with her mother, sister and stepfather. She is treated badly, ends in a bad marriage where she is treated even worse and nothing seems to be good for her, ever.

I liked the way Celie developed from a little girl into a strong, independent woman, the love for her sister, her search for her children. She seems a very likeable person who has to endure so much and always stands up again.

Apparently, Alice Walker used a lot of her own life in this novel, described personal experience. Maybe that's the reason it seems so true.

I am sure someone else has read this and can comment, as well.

 

(thread first started 04.03.06)

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I agree, it's a wonderful book.

 

I like how it's told mainly in the form of letters and Celie's personal point of view and how the overall message is to take control of your own destiny.

 

One of the best opening lines ever also: 'You better tell nobody but God'. At least I think that was it...

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Continuation of this thread retrieved from the Google cache:

Starry 5th March 2006 08:32 AM

I read this about ten years ago and loved it and I think it is probably time for a re-read as I can't remember specifics about the book. It does tend to get mixed up in my head with the film, which is one of my favourites and I've watched it many times, and if I remember correctly, the book is quite different.

 

Hazel 5th March 2006 09:44 AM

It's definitley one of my desert island books and my copy is so well read that I may have to consider buying a new copy. It is a great book and unusually the film was very good also. I love Sofia as a character and thought that Oprah Winfrey did a really good job of bringing her to life. I think Sofia was my favourite character - I juts love her strength of spirit and it breaks my heart when she is broken by her slavery punishment.

 

megustaleer 5th March 2006 12:27 PM

It's over ten years since I read this book, and like Starry, my memory of plot details has faded.

I had started to keep a 'diary' of the books I read by that time, although with only sketchy notes to record my reaction.

For 'The Color Purple' I have:

 

Wonderful! My sort of book. Tragedy; joy; pain; love; separation; reunion; injury; healing. A beautiful book!

 

I have just read an online plot summary, which baldly states a synopsis of every chapter. You wouldn't think it was the same book...it's all in the writing!

 

Momo 5th March 2006 06:46 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by megustaleer

I have just read an online plot summary, which baldly states a synopsis of every chapter. You wouldn't think it was the same book...it's all in the writing!

 

That's the reason why sometimes, when you pick up a book and think this is a great story, you are not satisfied at all. Another time, the story isn't all that exciting but you just love that book.

I love Alice Walker, she has a certain way of telling stories that makes this book so special. But even in the movie you can still see the way she was expressing herself and describing her characters, not to mention the great cast.

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This book is one that grows on you with subsequent readings.I feel like the characters are old friends of mine.

 

I have read it maybe four or five times now and it still makes me angry, makes me laugh and brings me to tears.

 

A wonderful book. One of the best I have ever read. (the fact I have read it more than once is high praise indeed.)

 

I can't find a single fault with it.

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that book is one of the most revolting things i've ever read.

1. full of sexual immorality

2. very graphic, unnecessarily

3. full of blasphemy and vulgarity

4. portrays God in a bad way, as if the girl was ever even Christian

5. written by a medium - now that should be enough errrr!

 

Mediums are those who consult the dead and she openly admits to being one! With a book like that... sorry i absolutely hate the colour purple. why do i know so much about it? because i study it in college. and i haaaatttteeeeee it. excuse me for my informality.

 

ps: i have the right to share my opinion, right? that's the point, am i right?

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ps: i have the right to share my opinion, right? that's the point, am i right?

You do, though obviously your opinion is based fairly exclusively on your religious beliefs rather than a more objective assessment of the inherent qualities of the novel itself. As such I think it will be difficult for people to engage with your opinion in discussion.

 

I think your P.S. reflects your underlying awareness of this. You're very welcome to BGO, Rozyczka, but faith-based critiques are going to be limiting.

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my ps was there simply because i realise i was a bit harsh and that not many people might share my opinion - that the book is simply revolting as i mentioned. but i'm sure some people could find it disgusting, i know of one person, who's not a Christian, who couldn't read the first page. and my opinion is not simply religion based - its based on what i feel reading it too - disgust. another thing - am i wrong or did you just imply that non-Christians hate God? which links to my point, that Celie was not a Christian and i think its a good point to talk about, because almost everyone if not everyone in my class seems to think she was and then she changed her views about God, when it is clear that she didn't have a relationship with God at all and then she just started worshipping nature.

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am i wrong or did you just imply that non-Christians hate God?

Not sure how you came to that conclusion, but to broaden it from Christians, if you have no faith you don't believe in God, so you can hardly hate him.

 

Anyway, I was simply offering advice on what would be likely to generate discussion and my observations on faith-based critique were drawn from your points - immorality, blasphemy, portraying God negatively and being a medium.

 

I won't be responding to this again - I was merely suggesting that religious critiques offer a more limited potential for discussion. You've already started to expand into discussing characterisation, which gives more for people to engage with.

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I read this book, many years ago and loved it. I also saw the film and enjoyed that. Yes, it was shocking but that was life as a slave in those days and it was shocking, and harsh.

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The Color Purple has been on my virtual TBR pile ever since I saw the Spielberg movie in the eighties.

 

Rozyczka, your distinctly scathing comments on the novel present, to my eyes, a questionable amalgamation of literary and moral criteria. A novel is not a piece of religious or political propaganda, and yet you seem to respond as though it were.

 

You mention studying the novel "in college" - presumably rather reluctantly. Am I right in assuming there is some disparity between what you are told about the novel and your own, very personal reactions to it?

 

I'm interested because I teach literature myself, and one of my students has recently expressed disagreement with my choice of material for the second term (Short Cuts by Raymond Carver). But using moral rather than aesthetic criteria: "there is too much violence in the stories, and violence is not an appropriate subject in literature" is basically her line.

 

Do you think certain subjects are systematically inappropriate in literature?

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Is that not a new thread?
I think it is, and will head off to Central Library to start one.

Please continue this aspect of the discussion up there.

m.

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Wonderful! My sort of book. Tragedy; joy; pain; love; separation; reunion; injury; healing. A beautiful book!

 

 

It's many years since I read this, think I read it when it was published, so don't remember too much detail but the quote above from Meg just about sums up my memory of it. It waits patiently on my re read list. Well I think it's being patient......... :D

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Just finished re-reading this and I think I enjoyed it even more this second time around. Though as per my previous post on this book I didn't remember much about it so my enjoyment assessment may be taken with a liberal pinch of skewed remembrance. Suffice to say from page one I was entranced by this book. I loved the talking to God/letter writing mechanism to tell the story. It allowed the voice of Celie to assert itself whilst introducing all the other characters. A masterful literary performance in my (limited knowledge) opinion. 

 

I'd also like to say I read (experienced or however we wish to categorise listening to audio books) this on audio and the narrator was Alice Walker. Normally I avoid authors reading their own works because they don't usually have the ability to perform with all the different voices a book requires but on this occasion Alice Walker did a great job. Really captured the whole feel of the book.      

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