Book Discussion: The Color Purple

The Color Purple, by Alice walker, was first published in the year 1982 and it won the Pulitzer Prize for Literature the following year. Rural Georgia of the 30s provides the backdrop of this powerful novel. Walker has used specific dialects and this helped open another window into the lives of the protagonists, for the readers. The novel is in the form of letters- Celie’s letters to God and her beloved sister, Nettie, and Nettie’s letters to Celie. The novel talks about the terrifying social status that the African-American women had in society.

Celie was this uneducated girl who was raped and beaten innumerable times by the man she called ‘father’. He impregnated her twice and took her children away from her. She was compelled to marry her sister’s boyfriend who married her as he needed someone to take care of his children. Apparently, he needed a maid and not a wife. She lived in a society where she was not even allowed to own her own body as that was also carefully preserved for the ‘man’ (Hello patriarchy, my old friend, I have come to talk with you again). She never knew about her sexual orientation until the arrival of her husband’s ex lover- Shug Avery, as she had no right to explore her sexuality, as well (sounds familiar?). This woman would eventually transform Celie into a whole different and better person. She would change the color of her life from black and white to ‘purple’.

The society where the characters of this novel resided was murky as hell (if something like that exists). Women were ‘given’ to men and they had to ‘mind’ the men so to carry on with their lives. The women who did not ‘mind’ their men were beaten and tortured. Black people were imprisoned for refusing to work for white folks as serving the Whites were their sole and innate duties. The highest social position the tribal women could think about was to become the Chief’s wife as a single woman was of no use to society. No, I kid you not!

A parallel has been drawn between the oppression of the blacks and that of women. Both these practices arise from the power loving mindset where one try reaching the summit by exploiting others. Celie pulled her life together and became an independent woman. She learnt that it was her and only her responsibility to make herself happy and for that she did not need the help of any man or woman. She had to fight tooth and nail with this male chauvinistic society and finally, she nailed it. But why do a woman always have to fight to get what she deserves? How difficult it is to get that men and women are complementary in nature?

My rating- 4.5/5




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