The Color Purple (#24/50)

We watched the movie version of this book in a college class about Women Theologians, and it was really good (obviously…it’s got Whoopi Goldberg AND Oprah). Some parts are kind of intense so I’m not sure I want to read this book again, but I’m glad I read it once.

Title – The Color Purple

Author – Alice Walker

Page count – 295

This is another epistolary novel. The main character Celie lives in the Deep South and writes letters to “God.” Later in the book, it alternates between letters from Celie and letters *to* Celie from her sister Nettie. I can’t figure out exactly when the story is set, but it seems to cover about 30 years of their lives. It’s definitely after slavery and before the Civil Rights movement; cars are used pretty frequently; and blues music is very popular, so I would guess it’s somewhere in the early- to mid-1900s.

Celie is abused – physically, emotionally, mentally – and while rape is never described in explicit terms, it is present in Celie’s life as something inevitable and unavoidable. She doesn’t live so much as she just survives (at least at the beginning). Through her struggles and mistreatment, Celie learns about different types of love – love for her sister, love for her friends, love for her lover… Each has different dynamics and fills her life in its own way.

Here’s a passage that relates to our Liberation Theology discussion from the class I mentioned at the start:

(Celie asks another character Shug about whether God is “he” or “she” and what God looks like, because she is struggling to believe in the version of God that is an old, white man in the sky.)

“Don’t look like nothing, she say. It ain’t a picture show. It ain’t something you can look at apart from anything else, including yourself. I believe God is everything, say Shug. Everything that is or ever was or ever will be. And when you can feel that, and be happy to feel that, you’ve found It.” (p. 202)


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