Book #010: The Color Purple by Alice Walker (5.0/5)

I saw myself in Celie, and I did not like it. I know this is supposed to be a good and analytical review of the book but I’ve had a shitty weekend. This is just me rambling about a book that seemed too real to me and yet is so far from my current experience.

I saw Celie, myself in Celie, that cowardice, that reclusion, and I did not like it. Celie is the main character of the novel. She’s been through hell and back. It’s bad enough that she’s a black young girl in twentieth century america. Ontop of that, she has to deal with an abusive father, who not only raped her but got her pregnant twice. Now, with no idea where her children might be, probably kilt (killed) she imagines, Celie has to care of her younger sister, Nettie, who might just be the next victim of her father’s abuse.

Celie’s father sells her off to marry Albert, a widow who is just as abusive, perhaps worse than her father is. She becomes mother to his five good for nothing children and slaves away in the family’s plantations. She suffers abuse, all kinds of it, and bids her time. One day, on her way to the fabric store, she stops by and sees this little girl, and she’s almost sure that it is her daughter, the one that was taken from her arms as a young girl by her father. She follows her daughter, who she named Olivia, and finds Olivia’s adoptive mother, Corrine, the wife of a Reverend named Samuel. Celie is happy that her daughter is in the hands of good people.

Celie’s Sister, Nettie, is also forced out of the house, but not by marriage. Nettie is determined to receive an education, so she fights, fights all the systems against her, and that is something her sister Celie has proven that she can’t do. Nettie fights and reaps the rewards of her fight. She goes on to become a missionary touring some of Western Africa and England.

Nettie writes letters to Celie of the work she is doing. She writes about the Olika people in the village she settled in, the culture, the colonialism and the white people trying to destroy it. Nettie writes about Celie’s daughter, Olivia, who happens to be daughter of the family that took her in.

Meanwhile, at home, Albert brings home Shug Avery, a famous musician who is his lover. Shug Avery is sick and near death, and Albert assigns Celie to nurse her back to health. In the process, Celie falls in love with her and their lovestory blossoms.

The novel is an epistolary, which means it’s a culmination of letters. There are time lapses between the letters, but it’s not so bad that the reader can’t understand where the plot is at.

Celie’s letters are addressed to God as confessionals. She’s not expecting God to do anything about her situation.

When she learns that Nettie has been writing to her all these years, she starts writing back. A transatlantic exchange begins and the sisters hold onto the hope of being reunited again.

The novel explores themes that are similar to the 20th century black American and black African experience. It’s written in black folk language, a mutilation of English by black people in Southern America. It won the Pulitzer prize in 1983 and became a motion picture starring Whoopie Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey.

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Amarachi Ike writes from Enugu, where she is currently studying Medicine at the University of Nigeria. She is an essayist, fiction writer, blogger and aspiring author.

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