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224 pages, Paperback
First published June 1, 1982
“Here’s the thing, say Shug. The thing I believe. God is inside you and inside everybody else. You come into the world with God. But only them that search for it inside find it.”
“Man corrupts everything, say Shug. He on your box of grits, in your head, and all over the radio. He try to make you think he everywhere. Soon as you think he everywhere, you think he God. But he ain’t. Whenever you trying to pray, and man plop himself on the other end of it, tell him to go lost, say Shug. Conjure up flowers, wind, water, a big rock.
But this hard work, let me tell you. Man been there so long, he don't want to budge. He threaten lighting, floods and earthquakes. Us fight. I hardly pray at all. Every time I conjure up a rock, I throw it.
“All my life I had to fight. I had to fight my daddy. I had to fight my brothers. I had to fight my cousins and my uncles. A girl child ain’t safe in a family of men.”After she gives birth, Alphonso takes the child away, as he did with her first baby, leaving Celie to believe that both have been killed. When the widowed Albert proposes marriage to Celie’s younger sister, Nettie, Alphonso pushes him to take Celie instead, forcing her into an abusive marriage. Soon thereafter Nettie flees Alphonso and briefly lives with Celie. However, Albert’s continued interest in Nettie results in her leaving.
“But I don't think us feel old at all. And us so happy. Matter of fact, I think this the youngest us ever felt.”Following Alphonso’s death, Celie inherits his house, where she eventually settles. During this time she develops a friendship with Albert, who is apologetic about his earlier treatment of her. After some 30 years apart, Celie is then reunited with Nettie, who has married Samuel. Celie also meets her long-lost children.
“I'm pore, I'm black, I may be ugly and can't cook, a voice say to everything listening. But I'm here.”Though Walker clearly wishes to emphasize the power of narrative and speech to assert selfhood and resist oppression, the novel acknowledges that such resistance can be risky. Sofia’s forceful outburst in response to Miss Millie’s invitation to be her maid costs her twelve years of her life. Sofia regains her freedom eventually, so she is not totally defeated, but she pays a high price for her words.
“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it.”Despite only being 40 years old, The Color Purple has been a staple of African American literature basically since its initial publication. It's a book that graces many curricula and reading lists. It's a book in which many a Black woman will find some solace. It's a book that deeply touched me, one that I would love to pass on one day.