Day 23 - A Picture of Your Favorite Book
|The Color Purple by Alice Walker
“SPOILER ALERT: The Color Purple In a Nutshell”
The Color Purple is the story of women’s struggles with inequality and oppression; a tale of love, heartache, inner strength and one’s own personal journey of faith. Celie, the main character and narrator, starts off writing letters to God because she has no where else to turn for an outlet as she is being abused by her stepfather, who tells her she is going to do “what her mama can’t”, as her mother is too busy dying of cancer or something to take care of her husband’s needs. Her stepfather continually rapes her, impregnating her twice and taking the babies and supposedly killing them in the woods. She is the ugly older sister, and is eventually sent off to marry a man, simply referred to as Mr. by Celie or Albert to others. Mr. originally wanted the hand of her prettier younger sister Nettie, however, Celie’s stepfather convinces him to take her instead, saying Nettie is too young and Celie is no longer able to conceive, a plus if you already have about 20 children that need a mother and basically just want a servant who can literally do the dirty work. After Celie is married to Mr. and moved in with him in order to raise his children and tend to his home, Nettie soon comes to stay with her so as to escape the sexual advances of their stepfather herself. (Mind you at this point in the book, both Celie and Nettie and therefore the reader, have no idea that it is their stepfather. They believe the man to be their own father.) Celie and her sister Nettie are extremely close and during their time together, Nettie attends school and teachers Celie how to read as she learns more. Ultimately, though, Mr. advances on Nettie. She fights off his attempts, and he banishes her from his property, separating Celie and Nettie from each other.
Albert tells Nettie she will never hear from her sister again and through all of the years hides away all of the letters she ever writes to Celie. Unbeknownst to her, Nettie ends up going with Celie’s two biological children to Africa with the missionary couple that actually adopted them when their stepfather said he had killed them. Celie will not get these letters until sometime later and throughout most of the story believes her sister to be dead. She endures years of abuse at the hand of her husband as well as torment from his children she was forced to raise. It was an unloving marriage of his convenience. Ironically, it is Shug Avery, Albert’s mistress, who comes to stay with them for a time when she is sick, who teaches Celie some of her most valuable life lessons, including how to love and be loved. This is more evidence indeed that you learn your lessons in the most peculiar places from the most implausible people.
She ends up having feelings for Shug and a relationship of sorts, as Shug is Celie’s first true encounter with love. Shug teaches Celie how to view God differently, to view it not as a white man with a beard as she always has, but as she sees fit to suit her. She teaches her to appreciate the good things in life including the blowing trees and the color purple.
Celie truly comes full circle and over the length of the tale develops into a true person instead of a sub human character. Her real inner strength is established and released as she finally stands up to Mr. and leaves him. She opens her own business in her real father’s old store which she inherits, making “folks pants”.
The story is a journey that takes place over a lifetime. By the end of the tale, Celie is finally reunited with her sister and her children. This is really an in a nutshell summary; there are plenty more themes throughout this book as well as more interesting characters that have a lot to offer to the story as well. This is one of my favorite books as well as movies, though as with most cases, the book is a lot better.
I don’t want to completely spoil it if you haven’t read it already. Read it! It’s a beautiful story. It’s a classic. I highly recommend it. …if you like such things.