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Feb—The Color Purple (2016) > The Color Purple Discussion

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message 1: by Emma (new)

Emma Watson (emmawatsonbookclub) | 49 comments Mod
Ok Team!

First thing's first, The Color Purple. I read it in two sittings and am now telling EVERYONE I know to watch the film too. I hope you enjoyed it too. I managed to speak to Alice on the phone last week! She is away at the moment but suggested that when discussing the book we should think of: ’The Temple of my Familiar’, ‘Possessing the Secret of Joy’ and ‘The Color Purple’ as a family… So if you loved this book, she really does see it as belonging to a series… Everyone is busy so I am not suggesting this as being on the official reading list but if you want to, or have a bit of extra time at the moment, I am going to try and dip into these two as well. She also discussed the book on her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/authoralicew...

I also wanted to mention ‘Beauty In Truth’, which is a documentary made by the incredible Pratibha Parmar about Alice's life. It is really interesting but currently nearly impossible to get hold of. It did play on PBS and BBC iPlayer but is ‘currently unavailable’. I‘ll keep you updated on my hunt for a new link!

In the meantime, the other thing I wanted to bring to your attention was Alice’s 'Desert Island Discs' recorded for BBC Radio 4: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01shstm

For those of you that aren’t English, this radio show is like a national institution. (Emma Thompson’s is one of my favourites). When I’m working away from home I love to listen to it in the hair and make-up chair. I love the vulnerability Kirsty brings out in her guests…. I love hearing the soundtracks of people’s lives. (I also just find her voice really soothing!) I hope this info is useful. I love seeing ‘meet ups’ happening all over the world so you can discuss in person.

If you haven’t done so already please post your thoughts and opinions on the book right here!

message 2: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Nunez | 2 comments I just to start to read... upsss :)

message 3: by Rafael (new)

Rafael Caracciolo Duarte | 21 comments The book is amazing!!!

message 4: by Bunny (new)

Bunny I really really enjoyed The Temple of My Familiar and recommend it highly.

message 5: by Katie (new)

Katie (kateschoc) | 2 comments to be honest I didn't expect to be that interested in this book, but I feel in love with this family from page 2. And the themes made me question what it means to be shapped by the society you live in with no real control over it, and also to examine myself and what has influenced my life.

message 6: by Fiza (new)

Fiza (fizaaarshad) | 99 comments I liked the book for its use of originality in story-telling. Celie's brutal life and lack of education reflected in the letters. I noticed that her writing style also changed as she became in tune with herself, and her relationships. The latter really helped her in her journey of empowerment, especially those with Nettie and Shug Avery. The emphasis on female bonding was one of the things that I loved about the novel.

The focus on other stories of different women, such as Shug, Sofia, Mary Agnes and Nettie was also great. It was refreshing to see different angles in which women can empower themselves.

message 7: by Dixie (new)

Dixie (dixietenny) I ran across this, too, in case anyone is interested. I haven't watched it but it looks very interesting. http://smile.amazon.com/Pema-Chodron-...

message 8: by Carmen (new)

Carmen Schirling | 6 comments Thanks for the additional information and tips.
"The Color Purple" was a very interesting read a lot of eye opener in there. The movie is good, but cannot reach the depth and truth of the book.

message 9: by Katrina (new)

Katrina Fiza wrote: "I liked the book for its use of originality in story-telling. Celie's brutal life and lack of education reflected in the letters. I noticed that her writing style also changed as she became in tune..."

That is such a good point about her letters! Her tone definitely did evolve throughout the book. I just finished it this morning.

This book was also an incredible eye-opener for me. I knew some of the struggles being faced during this time, but being thrown in with a family and seeing the pain they faced every day was different. It really taught me about the sugar-coating I grew up with (essentially "times were bad and people were mean but then we stopped" which is CLEARLY not the case). I should have known how long it takes for true change to be made given the changes women are STILL trying to make today!

Historical fiction is one of my favourite genres of books because you learn so much about one time period, but you are also forced to realize how similar/different societies were at that time. I will definitely check out some of the author's other works!

❦ Anna Francesca (annafrancesca3) | 57 comments The book and this book club have opened up my world. The word feminist felt so distant from what and where I was. Then I read My Life On The Road and it was like opening my eyes for the first time - suddenly I started to understand and process what it could mean to be a feminist and realised that I already was a feminist. Then came The Color Purple a beautifully haunting book which even now I think on. Both books I wouldn't have come across without this book club. I am grateful for this and I'm excited for the third book. This book club experience is completely new to me but I absolutely love knowing that one of the books I read each month is something that I will cherish. Thank you.

message 11: by Ashley (new)

Ashley (ashpohlenz) | 10 comments I cannot believe how much I loved the book, The Color Purple. I keep thinking about it and recommending it to my coworkers. The writing style was wonderful. I could hear the words being spoken. I read it in 2 days and immediately checked out the movie. I enjoyed the movie but the book was WAY better.

message 12: by Agnes Szalkowska (new)

Agnes Szalkowska | 386 comments This's the only site when the "Alice Walker Beauty in Truth" is available watching online. I'm check this link and works on my tablet. So I'm hope it will work for you guys as well.


message 13: by Jayce (last edited Mar 05, 2016 12:31PM) (new)

Jayce (caseyobrien) | 33 comments I embraced this book from start to finish. I cannot deny that at first I struggled to read it. Once I got to the letters between Celie and Nettie, however, I could not put the story down. I felt so ignorant when I learned about how African Americans were often rejected and disrespected (to put it mildly) by the people of Africa. I just couldn't believe that Nettie was disregarded in Africa just because her "kind" had once been sold as slaves to the Americas.

Final note: I thought the story did a terrific job at integrating both racism and sexism; I simply cannot imagine what it would have been like for Celie, or anybody, to suffer from both.

message 14: by Samantha (new)

Samantha Pearson | 16 comments Ok, so I've been mulling over what I wanted to say about The Color Purple; and I still haven't clarified it in my head. But given its now March, I'd like to move on.

Firstly, brilliance! The story itself is amazing, brutal, horrific, honest, beautiful and insightful. The choice of medium for this novel, the first person 'written' by Celie in her prayers and letters to Nettie, allow for the most insight and personalised nature to the themes explored within.

Language: did anyone else notice that as the book progressed the language of Celie also progressed? Not dramatically, yet not so much as to just account for age either. Very gradually Celie's language grew in description and vocabulary and tone as she herself grew into a stronger and spiritual and independent woman.

Names: I've read a few discussions here about the use, or the non use, of male names throughout the book. Interestingly the only male names neglected or purposefully left out by Celie was that of her father, using "he" in much greater preference to "Pa", her husband "Mr. ______", her daughters adoptive father "Revered Mr. ______" and the mayor. Other male characters, Mr.'s children, Odessa's husband, Mr. Grady, we're all mentioned my name. My thoughts on this stem to the influence of the male characters in Celie's life and the very small power it may give her to remove those men's names from her thoughts. Throughout the novel there is a a lot of emphasis placed on names, birth names and also the names people place on characters and identify them as. For example: "Squeak". The dehumanising affect of Mary Agnes 'losing' her name is explored throughout the novel. And the empowering nature of regaining her name is also explored. The identity or label of "black" is also explored similarly to the label of names, as well as "ugly" in Celie's case. On the reverse of this "Shug" becomes empowered by a new name, given to her by herself. I am not 100% sure on the affect of this, the focus on names in the novel. But I believe it has an element of power behind it; the power or empowering that comes from a name, label and/or identity and the reverse affect when those names/labels/identities are determined by others.

Celie's change in faith: understandably Celie feels a loss in faith with God, to whom she entrusted herself and her role in her world. When she reached her limit, not after abuse but after the dishonesty of Mr. hiding Nettie's letters and her "father" being her stepfather, then she loses the trust in the honesty of God, she questions the trust she placed in God. When she discovers and develops a natural, all encompassing view of "God" under the guidance of Shug and continues writing to Nettie, I believe this represents a parallel to Celie's discovery of her womanhood, of herself. We think about nature in terms of 'Mother Nature', as a female figure and power, and whilst not directly mentioned by the novel, that's where my mind went.

There was so much more I wanted to say about this novel but my mind is a bit blank and my battery low lol so I'll hit post now and come back if my mind clears.

message 15: by Ana, Our Shared Shelf Moderator (new)

Ana PF | 746 comments Mod
Agnes wrote: "This's the only site when the "Alice Walker Beauty in Truth" is available watching online. I'm check this link and works on my tablet. So I'm hope it will work for you guys as well.


Um, it seems to work for me!! Wow, thanks a lot, Agnes! :D

message 16: by Agnes Szalkowska (new)

Agnes Szalkowska | 386 comments No problem ;)

message 17: by MeerderWörter (new)

MeerderWörter | 2388 comments I'll definitely read them as well. I'll finish My Life on the Road today (it's already March 2 in Austria) today and then I'll buy/order these recommended books. Btw, when will the book for March be announced.

message 18: by Katelyn, Our Shared Shelf Moderator (new)

Katelyn (katelynrh) | 836 comments Mod
MeerderWörter wrote: "I'll definitely read them as well. I'll finish My Life on the Road today (it's already March 2 in Austria) today and then I'll buy/order these recommended books. Btw, when will the book for March b..."

It has been: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...


message 19: by MeerderWörter (last edited Mar 01, 2016 04:14PM) (new)

MeerderWörter | 2388 comments Katelyn wrote: "MeerderWörter wrote: "I'll definitely read them as well. I'll finish My Life on the Road today (it's already March 2 in Austria) today and then I'll buy/order these recommended books. Btw, when wil..."

Thank you, so now I can order/buy them all at once. In the bookstore they sure will get to know me as "the Emma Watson fangirl who nearly jumped while telling them about Emma Watson and her bookclub."

message 20: by Camilla (new)

Camilla (repressedpauper) | 64 comments Thanks for the links! I'll check out Alice Walker's interviews and other stuff. I loved The Color Purple. I thought I'd have a really hard time with the dialect but it's so beautifully written that I hardly notice it when I'm reading. Everything just seems so real and natural.

message 21: by Carolina (new)

Carolina Echevarría | 29 comments Emma wrote: "Ok Team!

First thing's first, The Color Purple. I read it in two sittings and am now telling EVERYONE I know to watch the film too. I hope you enjoyed it too. I managed to speak to Alice on the ph..."

I'll check those books, thank you, Emma! I did follow the discussion on facebook.

Also, it would be incredible if you could do an interview with Alice Walker like the one with Gloria Steinem.

message 22: by erika (new)

erika | 36 comments Fiza wrote: "I liked the book for its use of originality in story-telling. Celie's brutal life and lack of education reflected in the letters. I noticed that her writing style also changed as she became in tune..."

YES! I LOVED the female bonding aspect too! I loved how the women helped each other grow-- most obviously how Shug (and Sophia) helped Celie. It was interesting that the way women can tear each other down was also touched on (through Mr. ___'s sisters). But, I loved how the one sister came back and encouraged Celie to fight back and stand up for herself.

message 23: by Carolina (new)

Carolina Echevarría | 29 comments Agnes wrote: "This's the only site when the "Alice Walker Beauty in Truth" is available watching online. I'm check this link and works on my tablet. So I'm hope it will work for you guys as well.


Thank you so much! It's almost 8 pm in Mexico and I think I'll spend the rest of March 1st watching The Color Purple and Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth

message 24: by erika (new)

erika | 36 comments Anna wrote: "The book and this book club have opened up my world. The word feminist felt so distant from what and where I was. Then I read My Life On The Road and it was like opening my eyes for the first time ..."

The book club scene is new to me, too! As a 30 something mother of two, this is a great way for me to connect with like-minded folks from all over the world and get to be exposed not only to fantastic books, but all the beautiful thought invoking discussions as well! Hooray for Our Shared Shelf!

message 25: by erika (new)

erika | 36 comments I loved this book! What hit me the most is that the issues in this book transcend time-- this book explores issues that were important when it was written (in the 1980s) and are just as important today.

- Missionary work: I hadn't given much thought to missionaries until I was an Anthropology minor in college. Let me be clear that I am speaking about religious missions, not humanitarian aid. The two are very different, though I know that modern missionaries have endeavored to meet both the physical and spiritual needs of the people they are traveling so far to help. The problem for me is the underlying idea that these people need spiritual help in the first place. Generally, a missionary's understanding is that the group to whom they are proselytizing have an inherently WRONG understanding of the world and must therefore be saved. This is tragic to me because it misses the beauty and richness that has lived and thrived in the native culture. The so-obvious-it-really-shouldn't-need-to-be-said-but-I-will-say-it-anyway exception to this is a tradition or custom that infringes on basic human rights, like child brides and female genital mutilation (which is talked about in the book!). That shiz needs to be changed.

- Names: A lot has been said about this, so I won't repeat it. But, does anyone else remember, in the last book, when Steinem said something along the lines of, 'when someone gains their freedom the first thing they do is change their name.' I thought the act of Squeak insisting on being called "Mary Agnes" was powerful.

- Fluid sexuality: though it would be easy to put Celie in a "gay" box, I love that Shug has a very fluid and very raw sexuality. She cannot be put in a box, which I think is something people are more and more able to discuss today. But we still have a long way to go.

- Evolution of relationships: I love the growth the characters go through and the bonds that they form. The love triangles are almost soap-opera worthy, but they all work. It reminded me that we are all just humans. We all suck sometimes, but when we recognize that others are our brothers and sisters, beautiful things can happen. Like sitting on a porch with your former abuser sewing some pants.

-Religious fluidity: I LOVED the transformation from a white male god to a universal faith/love/connection. My favorite quote pertaining to this was, "I knew that if I cut a tree my arm would bleed."

I also loved the strength and tragedy in this quote: "My heart hurt so much I can't believe it. How can it keep beating, feeling like this? But I'm a woman."

message 26: by Paula (new)

Paula | 45 comments I loved The Color Purple! Alice Walker has such a unique and beautiful way with words. It's eye-opening and powerful. I'm so glad I got to read about Nettie's experiences in Africa as a missionary, I always wanted to do something like that, but I never did. I had no idea that it was so bad back then, especially for the girls in Olinka, it was horrible that they didn't let girls go to school, but I'm glad that Nettie stood up to the men there and got them to eventually go to school. It gives me hope that speaking up can make a difference. I have to admit, at times it was hard for me to read this book, but once I got to the letters between Celie and Nettie, I couldn't put it down, it made me want to read more and find out more about their lives! I loved Celie's relationship with her sister Nettie. They had this special bond that kept them strong and gave them hope that things would get better. They reminded me of me and my sister, we're really close. Also, Shug Avery was one of my favorite characters. She really stood up for Celie and showed her a life of true happiness, despite all the horrible things Celie dealt with earlier in her life. So far, I really like the books that we've been reading about feminism. They're making a huge difference in my life!

message 27: by Sara (new)

Sara Though I'd heard of this book, it wasn't a required reading in high school and I never got around to reading it in college or any time until now. I'm so glad Our Shared Shelf brought this book to my attention because I am very glad I read it.

I have read a few things written by Alice Walker, but never any of her novels and this one is very intimate and deep. It's quite overwhelming, at first, because from the start, the reader is immersed in Celie's world and, for me, this world is so different from my own that I had to concentrate quite hard on what was happening, and mull over many things that were said because I didn't quite understand the meanings. But now that I've had some time to think about it, and now that I've read the whole book and the characters have grown on me, I really am blown away by the story.

Walker has such a command of her reader's attention. Switching back and forth between Celie and her sister, Nettie, it was like being shown two different worlds, but both equally important and, in some ways, very similar. I like that Walker put that contrast/comparison between the rural black community Celie lived in, and the Olinka village that Nettie lived in. Those these places were on separate continents, and the people of these places have lived and grown apart from their shared ancestry, it was amazing to see how similar they were in terms of relationships with outsiders, their capacity to love and be loved, and their communal family way of life. Despite their differences, they both experienced much the same things, which I think is something that Walker wanted to portray.

This book is not something I would likely have picked up and read by myself, but I'm glad I read it. It was enlightening and it's good to read works from voices you don't normally listen to. I enjoyed the poetry I found in Walker's prose, and in those quiet moments of self-discovery and change that Celie shared. It was often very beautiful. I quite liked it.

message 28: by Donovan (new)

Donovan McComish | 1 comments First off, thank you Emma for choosing this book to discuss. I likely wouldn't have thought to read it otherwise. I finished the book four days ago and have been taking the time to mull over the story and the various allegories within since the book covers a vast expanse of years and deals with a variety of subjects. Simply put, this is a fantastic read. Hard-going? Yes, but ultimately satisfying on both a storytelling and emotional level.

The book's epistolary style is perfectly suited to this material. Alice Walker is able to immerse us so expertly in the journey of Celie and the other characters that you feel connected to them every step of the way, especially to Celie. She's such a layered character and I found myself moved by her struggle and wanting desperately for her to escape her horrid life of abuse and oppression, which is why that ending is so darn satisfying.

I can definitely understand why this book was chosen as the approach towards the subject of sexism was one of the aspects I found the most interesting. The book completely exposes the utter futility in patriarchy. Whenever the domineering male characters are questioned why they segregate and demean their women, they're only response is effectively "this is the way it has it has always been". Sexism towards women is portrayed in the book the same as it is in reality: A false conduct of society upheld by those stunted in emotional and spiritual growth.

However, much to my surprise and liking, Alice Walker not only avoids condemning men as a whole in the book, but also shows that we (men) are actually as much prisoners of this toxic outlook towards gender as women are, as well as the fact that we have the propensity to change from it. Of course there is Samuel, a thoughtful and caring man who, despite the numerous challenges he's faced with, never resorts to bigoted behaviour, but there's also the turnabout of Albert, who becomes a more sensitive and thoughtful individual once he finally accepts that he mistreated Celie and apologises to her. I also love how the book disrupts supposed "gender roles". Harpo is insecure because he can't quite conform to what he perceives as standard masculine traits that are in fact typical displays of misogyny. Sofia is an aggressively confident woman who isn't afraid to respond in kind if she is attacked, yet she is jailed for doing just that while the man who assaulted her walks free. And then there is Shug Avery (another brilliant character), who is unabashed in her sexuality in spite of being labelled a "tramp" among other things. Walker's message regarding all this is simple and clear. Gender and sexuality are anything but straightforward, binary concepts, and the implication is that our acceptance of that fact will lead to far greater personal fulfilment.

But there's also another message and that is one of love. Specifically that inclusiveness and solidarity, in the spiritual and emotional sense as well as the physical, is what will lead us as a species to a more enlightened state of being. It's exemplified in the bonds of sisterhood between Celie, Shug, Nettie, Sofia and the other female characters. And by the end, the men are slowly picking up on it too, with Harpo helping his father to see sense and atone for his ways.

Once again, thank you Emma for picking The Colour Purple. It's certainly enriched my views on gender, race and even religion. All-in-all, a thoroughly great and optimistic book from start to finish.

message 29: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 15 comments It was actually one of them books, where once i had picked it up, i just couldnt put it down, and had it read entirely in 4 hours.

Thank you for letting us know about the other 2 books, once i have read this months book for the group, i will make my way through them too.

message 30: by Dominic (new)

Dominic | 6 comments Quarter of the way into this book. I read it when it came out and saw the film too and noticed its limitations.
It looks at how traditional patriarchy damages men too and that interests me.
I worry about the element of spirituality and 'god' enters the narrative, be interested in in how other men see this and how we can learn.

message 31: by Ruth (new)

Ruth (missyrs) | 24 comments Hi all,

I finished the book on the weekend and I'm finding myself mulling over parts of it at very random moments of my day! Which I love! I know it'll be in my brain for a long while to come.

I think what is standing out to me most is the strength of the quiet. (Not sure how clear this will sound!) Shug and Sophia are both strong and fascinating characters and I'm enthralled thinking about how they respond to everything in life! But... My favourite characters that captured my heart were those of quiet strength - Celie and Squeak/Mary Agnes (strangely this was my grt grt aunts name!) their strength was apparent like sun on a spring day - you hardly know it's heating your skin but by the time you're inside for the evening you're all pink - well I am! They sort of snuck their strength in without my even knowing it. But it's solid and bold and gorgeous! Beautiful!

I really love this and will be recommending it forever!!

Thank you for this being on the list and now part of my head!


message 32: by Lily (new)

Lily (journalingirl) | 12 comments I have always meant to read The Color Purple, but this pushed me to actually do it. I loved seeing Celie grow as a person and you can tell from her style of writing how much she changes over the course of the book. Thanks so much Emma for choosing it!

message 33: by Evelia (new)

Evelia | 89 comments I also liked the bond that is form by the women and how the men are shown that they can change and break the cycle of abuse that exists.
I saw the movie but I feel that the book is better in telling Celie's story.

message 34: by Laura (new)

Laura Kurki (theliterarychic) | 4 comments As many have already expressed, I thoroughly enjoyed the subtle, yet noticeable changes in the language of the letters as Celie matured and came into her own.

I also loved the deep connections that grew between the women of the novel. I always enjoy reading about female friendships - especially when so many female protagonists are either preoccupied by romance or, alternatively, are strong but solitary figures. In this case, though Celie was clearly strong, she also developed connections to all the women around her in one way or another. And I think that's something to be cherished.

message 35: by MeerderWörter (last edited Mar 03, 2016 11:50AM) (new)

MeerderWörter | 2388 comments Well, this book really was a hard read. All the bad that happened to Celie and the others. But I liked to read her letters way more than Netties. I hated to read what happened to the Olinkas and how their whole being was changed. I am so happy that Austria never was big in colonialism, but we still have "dirt on the stick" as we say in Austria. Austria was a big empire, but only because of weddings, of which tells the Latin sentence: Bella gerant alii, tu felix Austria, nube. Translated: Others may lead wars, you happy Austria, marry.

It still makes me sick how much was destroyed by colonialism. Knowledge, ways of living and much more.

This book opened my eyes to these issues.

I have to say that I found the other books, The Temple of My Familiar and "Possessing the Secret of Joy finally, in the university's library in the English Studies department. So, I might not be the only one who didn't find them in the public library. At least I told them to get copies. I didn't want to buy them now, I will decide after I read them about buying them.

message 36: by Meriste (new)

Meriste | 2 comments erika wrote: "I also loved the strength and tragedy in this quote: "My heart hurt so much I can't believe it. How can it keep beating, feeling like this? But I'm a woman."

Completely agree with you. This quote was very powerful and it made me appreciate how truly strong Celie is. At first, I viewed Celie as a tragic and pitiable figure in a very, "Oh, the poor woman, having to suffer such hardships," kind of way. But after I read this line I realized that I was too quick to see Celie as perpetual victim, and not fully recognize how, even when she suffered most (be it heartbreak or abuse), she had the strength to endure and overcome every hardship and to even help/protect others (e.g. protecting Nettie from their Pa's advances). I truly didn't give Celie enough credit for what it takes for her to survive in her various situations. She's a woman. She fights on, endures, and overcomes by keeping that heart beating.

message 37: by Florence (new)

Florence Grégoire | 9 comments I've finished reading this book two weeks ago, but I haven't posted my thoughts about it yet, and I thought that'd be a good thing to do. I really, really loved that book, and I fell in love with Alice Walker, her way of writing, the words she uses, and some of her poems I read afterwards as well. I think this book is really great because it is at the same time very enjoyable to read - I read it very fast and couldn't stop reading it when I picked up the book - and very instructive. I mean, when I think of it, I don't think I ever read before a book written on 1st person by a black woman. That sounds a bit silly, but I think it's an interesting thing to notice. The characters are all so well depicted and you really get to love them, even the ones who seemed not so nice at first - but she has a way to make you understand why people act as they do, and maybe forgive them when you can. I think Alice Walker really has a gift as a writer, and I've been talking of that book to all my friends lately :)

message 38: by Samantha (new)

Samantha Pearson | 16 comments Donovan's comment (analysis) made me think quite a lot and I do have to agree with his analysis that Walker has explored the male perspective through Celie's female perspective. Particularly sex-role stereotypes, as Donovan noted with Harpo, to which I'd also add Mr.'s transformation and as a part of that he too learn to redefine his identity as a male and his role.

Thank you Donovan.

I often get into very long discussions that, yes while women have been suppressed horribly throughout the ages and continue to fight for equality, men particularly boys, have also suffered at the ideology surrounding sex roles, gender, and sex stereotyping.

message 39: by SC (new)

SC | 6 comments Such a powerful book! I really appreciated the format of the story - no narration, just Celie and Nettie's voices. Reading the first few pages, I almost felt like someone punched me in the heart. The abuse, the brutality expressed so matter-of-factly, as if it was just normal. Because it was, for Celie, that was her normality. That really spoke to me.

The saddest part about reading the book today, is to see how little things have changed, particularly considering the current political and racial climate in the US.

message 40: by Niamh (new)

Niamh Ennis | 28 comments To begin with, i was underwhelmed by the book (i'd heard it was amazing) but once i got into the story i fell in love with the characters and wanted well for them. Don't misunderstand , it's not that i didnt think it was insightful from the off, i just wasnt sure how authentic it was (due to lack of knowledge) and found Celie's writing a bit inconsistent to begin with as she could spell some things and not others but as you see her develop across letters (as many have mentioned) i realised it was just the way she was developing through practice and i like that she never changed from certain phrases such as "ast".

As others have mentioned i loved the sexually fluidity of Shug and Celie's sexuality aswell. It was very interesting to learn about how Africans reacted to African Americans, which is something i've never read anything about. It was also intriguing to see a different side of the oppression of African Americans outside the stereotypical maid-rich lady relationship thats explored in a lot of fiction. Reading this text made me realise how little reading experience i have in the topic of this oppression, particularly when Nettie began talking about the white man's taking over of the bible story - this is something i never considered. Well i considered the fact that jesus is always portrayed as white despite obviously being an Arab but i never thought about the Adam story.

Further to this i'm intrigued to find the route of the domestic violence and polygamous relationships of the men in this story - is this a passing on of oppression or even modeling of a manly man social norm or is there some other cause. I have to say i really liked how Mr grew as a person in the later parts of the book.

I must say my favourite part of the book was the ending - i was so terrified the whole way through something bad would happen, especially after thag boat sank!

message 41: by Abi (new)

Abi | 18 comments Hi Emma

message 42: by Alyson (new)

Alyson Stone (alysonserenastone) | 149 comments So, here's my review of the book. Just don't judge me too hard. :)

Book: The Colour Purple
Author: Alice Walker
Rating: 3 Out of 5 Stars

Let me start out by saying that this book is not appropriate for younger readers. There is some very graphic content that is not appropriate for teens. The content ranges from rape to abuse.

Alice Walker has a gift of throwing the reader into the world of the characters and making the reader feel very deeply for the characters. She writes in the world as if she has lived in it herself. The characters' all have this sense of darkness and no hope for them, but, yet, they still manage to find a way to hold onto themselves and find a way out of some of the situations. I think that the lyrical writing also adds to this world.

The book addresses several topics from the 1930s, many of which are still issues today. We see the sense of racism and the social structure of the United States. The characters come from very low rings of society and are not seen as equals in the eyes of the rich. They are expected to bow down to the rich and are seen as very uneducated and almost savage. These views are still very much present in the current American society.

So, since I read this book for Our Shared Self, which is a feminism group, let's talk about the roles of women. Celie is the perfect example to talk about. When Harpo's wife, Sofia, does not listen to him, Celie advises him to beat her. Celie herself has been beaten many times and knows the damage that a beating can cause. So, why does Celie do this? Sofia is not afraid to stand up for herself and is really a strong character. Celie is so jealous of Sofia's strong mindnesses. Late r on in the book, Celie digs down into herself and finds out that she has Sofia's strength in herself. This is just one of the many examples that can be found in the book.

Another thing that really stood out to me was the gender roles. The characters just seemed to push what was considered to be male and female. For example, Harpo, who is male, is the insecure character instead of a woman. This insecurity is what drives him to beat his wife and causes the marriage issues. Shug, on the other hand, does not give into the men in her life, which causes everyone to view her as a tramp. However, it is this that really causes Celie to be attracted to her. This brings us to the relationship between these two women. This relationship really drives home the idea that gender roles and sexuality are really not as simple as they seem. Plus, the bonds of sisterhood just really bring the women in the book all that much more closer.

So, why the three star rating? Well, I read this back in high school and thought that it was an okay read. While I did feel a bond with the characters and the story, it just wasn't as strong as some of the other books that I have read. This is not a bad read and I think that everyone can get something from this book. Just don't read it because you had to for a class or something.

message 43: by erika (new)

erika | 36 comments I loved this book and I am loving this group! This is the first time I have been a part of a book club, and I was so pumped about it I decided to add posts about it to my blog, starting today! Here is my post about The Color Purple if anyone is interested :)


message 44: by Martin (new)

Martin Felando Alice Walker's story is an intense tale about Celie overcoming unimaginable cruelty. The story has many layers, with Celie's letters to God focusing on the relentless cruelty by men in her family and community, and Nettie's letters to Celie about the terrible cruelty by men in Africa.

Then Celie experiences a beautiful love from Shug, who shares her belief in God. Shug's focus is on what God must feel about not admiring or noticing a good thing. The title of the book compels us to carefully consider this line that contains the title: "I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it."

Throughout the novel, Walker doesn't have Celie call Albert by his name. She has Celie write "Mr. ______" Only when Albert makes Celie a purple frog, and by this action he acknowledges and respects Celie's desire for women, not men, does Celie call Albert by his name. When Shug asks about the purple frog, Celie writes, "Oh, I say, a little something Albert carve for me."

One of the great things about this novel is that circumstances and characters are constantly changing.

Celie is raped, beaten, humiliated, treated like a servant, then becomes a lover, a fashion designer, starts a business in her new home, and is finally respected by Albert, and others. Her letter writing is crude at first, then becomes more refined.

Walker sometimes focuses on sound to emphasis the change: "All us hear from inside is the thump, thump, thump of plump and stout feet." At the end of the chapter when Sofia leaves Harpo: "...and they all quiet as they leave."

Powerful forces are at work - men wanting to dominate and control how others live. Celie tries to change how Harpo treats Sofia but can't. When Harpo hears from Celie that love should be above control and violence, he gets sick and stops his overeating.

Celie's life "start up again" thanks to Shug, who becomes an agent of change. Shug stops Albert from beating Celie. Shug names a song after Celie, giving her strength. Shug awakens Celie's sexual life. Shug helps Celie redefine God. Shug gives Celie a place to go in Memphis where they make a home together. "I'm here to love you and help you get on your feet." p218. Because of Shug's belief in God, Celie doesn't just leave Albert, she enters "into the Creation."

Walker creates a number of engaging mysteries: Will the sisters reunite? Will Celie kill Albert? Will Shug and Celie reunite? Will Sofia's fighting spirit return?

Walker also creates some eye-opening surprises: Albert stole and hid Nettie's letters to Celie. Celie's Pa ain't her Pa. Shug insulted Celie by calling her ugly, then falls in love with her.

It starts as a story about who will keep fighting and gain enough knowledge and understanding to escape hell. Celie eventually leaves, but returns to the community and experiences the kind of love, dignity and respect we wanted her to have.

Nettie's journey shines light on issues that the world must resolve: inequality with the family, female education, female mutilation, colonialism, local and federal racism. Nettie's heartbreaking experiences in Africa is a reminder how good intentions and heart-felt endeavors can fail as a result of greed, inequality, and cruelty.

A number of key moments I really liked:

The reunion at the end; we wanted the sisters to be together again.

"...if words could kill, I'd be in an ambulance." p255

"...love can't be halted just cause some peoples moan and groan." p276

Pants become a symbol of independence and equality: "Anybody can wear them, I said." p 279

"Hard not to love Shug, I say. She know how to love somebody back." p289

Celie on Shug: "If she come, I be happy. If she don't, I be content. And then I figure this the lesson I was suppose to learn." These lines made me wonder if we were all put here to learn lessons.

The cemetery scene involving the horseshoe and Celie's wish to respect her true parents.

The reconciliation between Albert and Celie as Albert changes: "The more I wonder, he say, the more I love."

There was an interesting synchronicity involving the Olinka's serpent worship and Gloria Steinem's visit to Serpent Mound.

I'm grateful that Alice Walker shared her story, I learned a lot about Africa and new ways of thinking about cruelty, domination, inequality, love, and God.

message 45: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 14 comments I love the story, how celie triumphs in the end to a strong independent self assured women. From the submissive abused wife of mr___ the heartache of losing nettie and her children then to love shug.... shug for me was and is the best example of a free women and free love, to share this with celie and to open celies eyes to the strenght to be had. brilliant. I just wish nettie had been reunited earlier in the book or for the book to continue to tell the tale from then.

message 46: by Ashley (new)

Ashley Macdonald (snowash7) | 1 comments I think one of the pivotal moments in the story is when Shug explains God vs Man to Celie. "Man corrupt everything, say Shug...He try to make you think he everywhere. Soon as you think he everywhere, you think he God. But he ain't." This realization that religion comes from nature and from the inside, forever changed Celie and her outlook on life and the power men had over her. Each woman has her inner strength and beauty because each woman has a piece of God inside of them. I love how Alice Walker states this.

message 47: by Vlaďka (new)

Vlaďka Novotná | 1 comments I've just finished reading the book. Although this is not the style of the books I am used to read, I like the book very much.
I cannot imagine how brave the coloured women had to be to survive in those times.

message 48: by Jeanette (last edited Mar 06, 2016 09:51AM) (new)

Jeanette | 11 comments I'm really glad that I joined this book club because I probably wouldn't have read these books otherwise. I had heard of The Color Purple before but I never planned to read it because I was always wary that it wasn't my kind of story. I just can't read books that have a lot of injustice and cruelty in them because they pull me down so much.
So it surprised me when I loved this book. Through all the cruelty and injustice the characters experience there's always strength, hope, faith and an underlying positivity. Celie above all just keeps going no matter how hard her life is, but what she's doing is way more than just surviving.
But not just her character develops so much as she finds herself, her own power and independence. There's Mary Agnes who comes into her own in the course of the story.
Then there are other strong female characters like Shug or Sofia who stay true to themselves no matter what it costs them.
The development of Albert, who was the antagonist for most of the story and Harpo, who is a great example of a man struggling with gender roles was inspiring as well. They are not painted black as brutal oppressors who are not human at all.

I really like Samantha's comment on the use or non use of the names of some of the male characters. And also how that shifts in the course of the story when Celie starts referring to her husband as Albert in the end, after their relationship had changed.
I also noted the development of Celie's writing style, which has already been commented on by several others here.

All in all I think it's a great book with several fascinating and inspiring characters in it.

message 49: by Lucy (new)

Lucy | 1 comments The Color Purple was a book I always meant to read and never got around to actually doing it hit then I saw it was February's read and took the plunge.

It took me a while to get into the book itself but when Shug turned up, the book started to pick up it's pace and I read the rest of it in one setting.

There were many things I loved that were mentioned above, the strong bonds between women, how the men that had hurt them could redeem themselves and how it was shown how sexism and racism were shown to be a major part of these women's lives but the book wasn't about solely those issues. What I really liked was how empowering it was, Celie finally getting her own happy ending (and by God did she earn it), Sofia helping the little white girl she raised to understand that it wasn't her choice, Mary Agnes getting people to use her name and Shug getting to be herself and have people love her for it.

I think it was a good book and I'm really glad I read it.

message 50: by Lynda (new)

Lynda (lyndamaki) I first read The Color Purple many years ago. It is a difficult novel to read because of the raw suffering of these women especially at the hands of their loved ones. I love the depth of these real and unique characters. How can they be born and live only in the author's imagination? I find myself considering how various characters would react to certain events and times. It's hard not to imagine them out in the world, alive as you and me. TCP is an amazing gift of literature, revealing a way of life, a time and the strength of survivors under almost unbearable circumstances.

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