Spirituality and Sexuality – The Colour Purple PR

Dear God,

I don’t think I ever believed in you, never truly. I reflect on my religious experiences when I thought you were there. I was baptized, and I have a home video. I, a naked child in a church in Russia, with the distant sounds of a choir, and the mumbles of a priest blessing me. I rewatched it, not being able to connect with the child being dipped in the basin. I remember praying to you, God, as a kid, before bed every night. It didn’t suit me, but I remember the moon shining through the window, and the sight of it would help me fall asleep.  I was sent to bible camp, and I went willingly, excited to finally understand Christianity. I thought I was just ignorant—  that my lack of knowledge was what was keeping me from understanding God. I remember on one of the nights, we had chapel outside, on the lake. I don’t remember anything about what the pastor was saying, all I seem to remember is the sound of the lake, looking at the forest, and the bats that were flying overhead. None of this is to say I had a negative religious experience with Christianity. I never felt forced into believing in God. Even during Thanksgiving, when my aunts expected me and my cousins to prepare prayers to speak aloud, I found religion to be something that brought people together. But I knew, right from when I was little, that Christianity did not fit me.

I never knew what to make of these experiences. The Awakening provided some insight, but The Colour Purple was an entirely different experience for me. The spiritual and sexual journey Celie underwent was so refreshing and genuinely pleasurable. The epistolary format allowed me to really become one with Celie, and see from her point of view. One fear I have writing this PR is that it will sound similar to my response to The Awakening. I want to make it clear that while they may be alike, my response was quite different, even if I have a hard time expressing it.

There were three threads that I personally found to be the most influential while on Celie’s journey, those being her experiences with Spirituality and Sexuality.

Celie seems to be much more religiously dedicated than I was, for the first half of the book, her letters are dedicated to Him. For a younger, naive Celie, God was her only friend. That’s what she believed, because Alphonso told her right from the start, “You better not never tell nobody but God. It’d kill your mammy” (p. 1). Her own mother would not be able to handle Celie’s traumatic experience, so how could anyone else? Only God. Celie relied on that idea until she saw Shug Avery. Celie’s grace shifted from God to a picture of Shug quite distinctly, as she held on to it as one would a cross or a bible, “all night long I stare at [the picture of Shug]. An now when I dream, I dream of Shug Avery” (p. 6). The attachment helps Celie, creating a distance between her traumatic situation. Celie thinks of Shug as an idol, someone she can rely on, and be faithful in, despite not knowing her.  And isn’t that just the definition of a God?

Shug becomes so incredibly important to Celie. She’s in love with Shug, and that first love helps her realize that the talk of love, romance, and sex, are real, real things. Celie finds it particularly difficult to realize this, as lesbian couples do not conform to societal norms. We do not expect Celie to realize why her romantic life is dull due to the fact that she is not interested in men. It becomes easy for us, especially when we’re younger and less knowledgeable, to doubt the existence of constructs like love, because we haven’t experienced them yet. We think; “Love, Sex, Romance, they aren’t for me, they’re gross. I would never do that.” It’s not until we have those experiences that we see the pleasant reality of it. Shug helps Celie understand that while she may be married, have been pregnant and kissed her husband before; she still has not genuinely felt the joys of them—meaning she’s “still a virgin” (p. 76). Celie’s exploration of her identity and sexuality would not have been propagated if Shug had not been there to pull Celie out of conventional ideas of romance.

Part of that includes decriminalizing things like sex for Celie. The conventional idea, which is still quite common today, is that sex is a dirty, sinful act. Shug shuts that idea down,

Oh, she say. God love all them feelings. That’s some of the best stuff God did. And when you know God loves ’em you enjoys ’em a lot more. You can relax, go with everything that’s going, and praise God by liking what you like.

God don’t think it dirty? I ast.

Naw, she say. God made it. (p.195)

Celie learning to love herself, and to allow enjoyment in her life, whether sexual or not, really helped her growth. Loving herself, too, became sacred, as God was in everything, he made everything. It’s an odd twisting of normal religious beliefs— why would we ever believe that God hates his creations? It would mean that we had an evil God. Shug’s God is a lot more convincing, in my opinion. Even before this, as they’re still getting to know each other, Celie “wash[es] [Shug’s] body, it feel like I’m praying” (p. 48). Shug herself becomes God-like, in Celie’s eyes, by being the person to help facilitate her self-growth. This manifested in Celie in her womanly strength, modelling herself after Shug and Sofia.

Celie’s spiritual journey, through Shug’s help, allowed me to have a much deeper appreciation for nature, trees, stars, people, and even the colour purple. This clever novel will be a big step in my own spiritual journey. I know that the common Christianity does not suit me, but maybe something closer to Shug’s view on God and Its passion for the natural does a bit more. Like Shug, “that feeling of being part of everything, not separate at all” (p.195) is the nicest feeling, in terms of the human experience. When I think of Thanksgiving, my entire family together, I don’t care about the prayer, I care about the people around me. I cherish their presence, and that is God.


“The Color Purple” PR – Gender Roles & Self-love

The Color Purple is a novel written by Alice Walker in 1982. The epistolary novel is innovative in terms of the story plot, setting, language, and structure. I am intrigued by this novel since I have never read one in a similar format. Walker’s novel displays the racism and injustice that African Americans are constantly facing in the lowest hierarchy in American society. At the same time, criticizes the gender stereotypes and conflict between men and women in the same race. Due to the novel’s unique format, it raised a variety of questions, from societal gender stereotypes, and racism, to personal love life. Walker raises these questions (the desired effects that she produces) mainly by the way she characterizes Celie through unique narrative devices: language and structure in the novel.

Walker characterizes Celie and shows her character arc through the unstandardized and comparatively informal English writing.

“I ast him to take me instead of Nettie while our new mammy sick. But he just ast me what I’m talking about.” (p. 7)

“Us both be hitting Nettie’s schoolbooks pretty hared, cause us know us got to be smart to git away.” (p. 9)

When Celie is writing and speaking in the novel, she often utilizes informal spellings like “ast” and “git” to replace the stardarized spellings “ask” and “get”. These words are a more vivid reflection of Celie’s thoughts and words spoken. Compared to Nettie’s standardized speaking and writing, Celie is comparatively uneducated. As Celie gets impregnated by Mr._ at such a young age, she is forced to drop out of school while Nettie continues her academics. This event marks the first misfortune in Celie’s life and increases our sympathy for Celie. However, Celie’s life does not start getting any better after she is forcefully married to Mr._. She is still facing violent treatment and being disrespected in the new household by Mr._ and his children.

“He say, celie, git the belt. The children be outside the room peeking through the cracks. It all I can do not to cry. I make myself wood. I say to myself, Celie, you a tree. That’s how come I know trees fear man.” (p. 22)

At the beginning of the novel, Celie is a timid little girl who is afraid of speaking up for herself and would only do what the male characters tell her to do. Her self-worth is primarily based on what the male characters think of her. Her existence is also centered on chores within the household. Celie’s first-person narrative of her own experience makes us sympathize with her situation. Her calming voice of reciting her experience and Mr._ demanding tone when speaking to Celie show physical and verbal abuse toward women is normalized in Celie’s family, which is, the epitome of the colored community. It seems that the misfortune that Celie experiences have erased her ability to feel, as a human being. Instead, Celie is merely living as a machine that works and lives for other people. The language that Walker uses in the novel highlights the fixated, normalized societal norm of men dominating the powers in the household while women should be obedient and submissive. However, this stereotypical gender role is not only mentioned from the men’s perspective,

“I’m sick of her too, say Kate, letting out her breath. And you right about Celie, here. Good housekeeper, good with children, good cook. Brother couldn’t have done better if he tried.” (p. 20)

This quote is spoken from Mr._’s sister’s perspective which she compliments Celie because Celie does what people think she should do without questioning. This highlights the fact that stereotypical gender roles are ingrained in both genders’ minds. Women are subconsciously agreeing that they should be constrained by such social conventions. From this, Walker once again raises questions, such as “Does my gender shape the way I am supposed to act?” Also, to explore the possibilities of reversing gender roles in society (which is later explored in Celie’s self-discovery process).

Walker characterizes Celie’s self-discovery and self-love process through the epistolary structure of the novel. In Celie’s “awakening” process, Shug Avery has a catalytic effect on influencing Celie to embrace her own feelings and break off social constraints regarding gender roles.

At the beginning of the novel, Celie only writes and vents her unhappiness to God. As she stated on p.1 of the novel

“You better not ever tell nobody but God. It’d kill your mammy.” (p.1)

This quotation shows that she does not feel comfortable expressing these feelings to the surrounding people.

“Dear God,

Harpo went and brough Sofia and the baby home. They got married in Sofia sister house.” (p. 33)

In her letters to God, her writings are monotonous, simply recording the events in other people’s lives. This also reflects the fact that Celie does not feel like she has her own life but living for other people.

However, as the plot progresses, she does not write to God as much as she used to. She either expresses her feelings and thoughts to Shug or writes to her sister, Nettie.

“Dear Nettie,

My heart broke.

Shug love sombody else.” (p. 245)

In her letters to Nettie, we can see that she is expressing more human emotions, happiness, sadness, anger, etc. showing that she is not oblivious to the ongoing events surrounding her. She embraces her emotions and pursues her love life. Her braveness allows her to stand up for herself against Mr._, which buys her respect from the men in the family. Since Celie starts fighting for her own life, she gains more control over what she wants to do in her life. Celie’s self-discovery process also fosters reversing the gender role in the family. While Celie is playing a more dominant role in decision-making, men in the family seem to become more submissive and have fewer say. This further leads us to explore and reflect on the possibilities of events that will potentially happen in society when male and females swap their fixated roles. Walker gradually induces more perspective in the letter writings (from solely Celie’s perspective to incorporating both Celie and Nettie’s perspectives) is a brilliant way to display the “awakening” process of Celie. Walker also induces Shug Avery’s contemporary views in lots of aspects of life:

“Naw, she say. God made it. Listen, God love everything you love-and a mess of stuff you don’t. But more than anything else, God love admiration.” (p. 195)

This quotation spoken by Shug Avery has consoled Celie’s conflicted mind while Celie is trying to discover her self-worth and interests in life. Shug’s presence has a positive influence on Celie’s character development. In letters written by Celie, Walker is able to show the importance of self-love through the influence of Shug’s words and actions on Celie.

I have to admit that I found the book quite dull and monotonous in the beginning. However, the book gets better as it progresses. I especially enjoy the part where Celie rediscovers her self-worth is not primarily based on how the male character perceives her, but rather, based on how she perceives herself. Celie’s optimistic character allows her to love people unconditionally after all these life-long traumas. This inspires me to always be my true self and embrace my emotions. Just as Shug Avery says:

“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somwhere and don’t notice it.” (p. 195)

This novel will forever serve as a reminder for me to be optimistic and appreciate the serendipity in my life.

Personal Response – The Color Purple

“The Color Purple” written by Alice Walker is a dairy-like novel that reflects the social background of colored people in 1907-1949 Georgia, United States. This book explores the theme through the view of one character – Celie, as she navigates a world full of abuse and discrimination. 

In my opinion, the highlight of the book is the evolution of the Character Celie as she slowly builds up her own life throughout the book. She had the worst starting on the book’s first page as she got raped by her stepfather at the age of 14. It’s the worst thing that can happen to a young girl, and I believe that might have been common in the colored community back in that time since colored people did not have enough social status, and no one would be punished for such an inhumane act. Celie bows her head to reality and accepts her tragic life as a freedomless slave in Mr.___ Family in the first part of the story. However, after the arrival of Shug Avery (Mr.__’s crush), Celie changes rapidly. She began to raise awareness of her rights towards many things such as life without sexual and physical abuse. I have observed her significant changes throughout from mid to the end of the book, as she gained back freedom and started to consider what love is, etc. 

Alice Walker’s writing is raw and direct, she tore off the FIG leaf of the people of the time by addressing difficult and painful themes like racism, sexism, and violence. Yet, in this dark setting, we can still see love, self-discovery, and the importance of connecting with others. 

This book is a powerful exploration of human’s spirit capacity to endure and overcome adversity. It explored the strength of women and the bonds that can develop between them. Furthermore, many traditional thoughts were challenged and questioned in this book, such as homosexuality, and the rights of colored and women. This book has taught and reminded me of the importance of empathy, resilience, and the potential for growth and change even in the most challenging circumstances.

Personal Response – The Color Purple

Prior to the introduction of, The Color Purple, by Alice Walker, we were given an introduction through a handout, introducing the characters and the theme of the book. The introduction helps us ease into a mindset to explore the topic of which the book addresses. The theme being the societal expectations and gender roles at its time (20th century).

I am fourteen years old (p.1).

First he put his thing up gainst my hip and sort of wiggle it around. Then he grab hold my titties. Then he push his thing inside my pussy. When that hurt, I cry. He start to choke me, saying You better shut up and git used to it (p.1).

Naturally, I was surprised like many others by the immediate introduction of hebephilia. However, the introduction allows Walker to underscore the gravity of the issues the novel addresses. After the book caught my attention, I found myself beginning to pay attention to the story more than I may typically have with other novels of similar nature. Additionally, the epistolary style of the novel caught my attention as I tried to navigate the letters written by a young girl without much education in writing and general knowledge of the world. The raw and unfiltered perspective provided by Celie’s letters offered a unique insight into her world, making the narrative seem more compelling and natural.

Walker initially portrays Celie as a young girl subjugated to abuse, who found comfort in making herself quiet and invisible while she takes all the abuse into her 30s. As Celie continued to be quiet and not defend herself, I found my empathy towards her dropping as I began being agitated by her lack of willpower. However, as the novel progresses, Celie undergoes a significant transformation. With the help of Shug Avery, Celie gradually comes to accept herself as a living person through an external viewpoint of her life and those whom Celie has encountered with drastically different personalities such as Nettie and Sofia. Celie gains the ability to synthesize her thoughts and feelings into a voice that is fully her own and becomes a happy, successful, and independent woman.

When Celie begins to fight back, we witness a transformation not only in her character but also in the male characters around her. Most notably, Mr. _____, who is portrayed as an abusive husband. After Celie stands up to him, he undergoes a deep personal transformation and eventually develops a friendly relationship with Celie. Additionally, we see Celie being surprised by the beautiful changes to the property as she goes to visit her stepfather for the first time since she was married off to Mr. ____, and finds him as an approachable gentleman (pp.178-180). These transformations in the male characters, triggered by Celie’s defiance, show that they too are victims of societal norms and expectations. By the end of the book, I had found myself not disliking any particular characters based solely on the actions they had committed.

Overall, I found myself liking the book and often looking forward to reading more letters. The themes of societal expectations, gender roles, and personal transformation explored by the book has been a mostly positive experience. Although the English were hard to understand at first, I found myself getting used to it as Celie continued to develop her English writing abilities. However, I did often find myself disliking some letters, especially those of Nettie’s as I felt they were acting as unnecessary and boring fillers. If I were to give The Color Purple by Alice Walker an overall rating out of ten, I would give it an eight.


Glazing Alice Walker – The Color Purple PR

Alice Walker’s The Color Purple is a profoundly moving novel that has deeply resonated with me. One of the remarkable qualities of Walker’s writing is her skill in constructing a profound and emotional connection between the reader and the characters.

Walker’s choice of a first-person narrative conveyed through the heartfelt letters shared between Celie and God, allows us to delve deep into the thoughts and emotions of the protagonist. This intimate perspective allows us to witness Celie’s evolution and growth throughout the narrative. We see her journey from being a young woman trapped in a cycle of abuse and oppression to becoming a strong, independent individual who discovers her voice and her sense of self-worth. At first, I found Celie’s language difficult to understand, but after time I slowly absorbed Celie’s story and it had a greater impact. Walker’s writing style really involves us in Celie’s world, allowing us to experience her pain, her joy, and her victories.

Moreover, Walker’s depiction of the relationships within the story is profoundly moving. The enduring and profound bond between Celie and her sister Nettie is a testament to the strong power of love and family ties. Walker’s talent for portraying the complexity of these relationships, with all their highs and lows, infuses the narrative with authenticity.

Another captivating aspect of Walker’s writing is her exploration of critical social and cultural themes, including racism, sexism, and the quest for self-identity. Through Celie’s experiences, we gain insight into the harsh realities faced by African American women in the early 20th century South. Walker’s storytelling is not just a recounting of events; it is a call to action for societal change and a feeling of empathy.

Furthermore, Walker’s use of language is poetic, and her vivid descriptions of the natural world and the country setting enhance the narrative with depth and vibrancy. It is a testament to her mastery as a writer that she can convey a range of emotions and meaning through her words.

In conclusion, The Color Purple is a literary masterpiece that highlights Alice Walker’s extraordinary talent. Her skill in creating relatable characters, exploring vital themes, and drawing readers into the emotional core of the story is truly remarkable. This novel not only captivates and entertains but also educates and inspires, making it an unforgettable reading experience. Old history shows us how to act in the present.

What makes a life good – The Colour Purple PR

No book we have read so far has impacted me like The Colour Purple has. At first, i didn’t think I was going to like it, but I can honestly say that it is one of my favourite books I have read in this course. “Good literature doesn’t send messages, it raises questions.” This is a phrase you have all heard over and over and over, it probably haunts you in your sleep. I can honestly say that The Colour Purple is the first book to make me actually question what I had just read. The main one being “What makes our life good?/What makes life worth living?”

In The Color Purple by Alice Walker, the concept of what makes a good life is explored through the experiences of the characters, mostly the main character Celie, as they go through various challenges and personal transformations. Meaningful relationships, especially those of love and friendship, are the building blocks to a good life in the novel. Celie’s connection with Shug Avery, her sister Nettie, and her friends Sofia and Squeak play pivotal roles in her growth and happiness. These relationships provide emotional support, validation, and a sense of belonging.

“Us sing and dance, make faces and give flower bouquets, trying to be loved. You ever notice that trees do everything to git attention we do, except walk?”

The quote suggests that humans, in the chase for love and attention, will partake in various expressive and creative activities. For example singing, dancing, making faces, and giving flowers are ways in which people try to garner love and positive attention from others. These actions show our own fundamental need for human connection and validation. Furthermore, it compares human nature to actual nature, in this case trees. Despite the fact that trees are an inanimate object, and thus cannot sing, dance, or make faces. They still have their own little way of trying to capture attention using their natural beauty, they may bloom flowers in the spring, grow fruits in the summer, turn beautiful shades of red and orange in the fall, and the snow lining their limbs in the winter. The desire for love and affection is a universal trait not just exclusive to humans. So in this case, I would argue that love and affection from others whether it be family, friends, or your pet is an important factor in having a good life

Another main theme mentioned in the novel that I believe contributes to a good life is self-expression and self-identification. Could you imagine being forced to live in a world where you weren’t allowed to do the things you love? This was Celie’s reality in the beginning of the novel when living with Alfonso. She was silenced and oppressed and married off to a man she barely even knew. However as she started writing letters to god, and eventually Nettie, she begins to find herself.

“I’m pore, I’m black, I may be ugly and can’t cook, a voice say to everything listening. But I’m here.”

This quote shows Celie’s journey to fully accepting herself for who she is. Despite her own negative perception of herself and others negative perceptions of her, she acknowledges that she is here and that her value as a person is not based off her attractiveness, her race, her cooking skills, her financial state, or if she fits within the gender role assigned to her. She exists, she has a life, she has a purpose and she is important. She is asserting her presence in the world, and in doing so defying those oppressive forces she faced throughout her life. Her declaration of “But I’m here” acts as a sort of statement to the world that she has the right to take up space and exist freely. It highlights her resilience too, despite the horrific situations she is put through and all the rude comments made about her, she’s still her and present. It shows Celie’s inner strength and her determination be able to express herself in order to live a good life.

A sense of community and solidarity yourself and others is a large part of what makes life good as well, and we see this in the characters in the novel. They join forces and support each other, giving a sort of “found-family” feel to the novel, providing love and affection (which as I mentioned before is another factor of a good life) . Having this sense of belonging contributes to our overall well-being. We get this from our friend groups, our families, sports teams, school peers etc. However, we also experience connections to things that aren’t human, such as nature.

“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the colour purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it”

This quote said by Shug Avery, suggests that there is a definite beauty and meaning in the natural world that is often overlooked. Even simple things, like the colour purple in a field, are beautiful. By failing to notice or acknowledge this, you are upsetting god. In the context of the novel, this is a metaphor for the importance of being aware of the beauty and value in people and the community. In the story, the characters, mainly Celie, experience transformation and a sense of belonging when they become more aware of the strengths and value of themselves and those around them. Not noticing the “color purple” in others, metaphorically speaking, represents a failure to recognize and appreciate the unique qualities and beauty in individuals within their community. When individuals in a community take the time to notice and appreciate the beauty and worth in one another, it fosters a sense of unity and solidarity. The act of collectively appreciating and valuing the diversity and unique qualities of community members  strengthens the bonds between them. In the novel, as characters like Celie and Shug learn to appreciate each other’s uniqueness, it leads to deeper connections and a sense of solidarity.

I absolutely loved this book, and I loved the characters too. I admire Celie’s ability to persevere and to love unconditionally. I admire Sofia’s ability to defend herself both physically and mentally, and stick to her morals even if it gets her in trouble. And I admire Shug’s independence, her ability to challenge taboos, and her creativity. The most important thing I learned from this novel is that a good life is not just about success or wealth. It is also about forming loving relationships, self-expression, and having the freedom to be your authentic true self.

PR to “The Color Purple”

It is safe to say that during my reading of the first few of Celie’s letters in Alice Walker’s novel, The Color Purple, I considered reading the novel a chore. I regarded the plot and characters to be completely relatable to my own experiences. However, soon after, I realized that I did not need to possess shared experiences with Celie or any other character in order to appreciate and enjoy Alice Walker’s masterful storytelling and composition techniques. One such composition technique is Alice Walker’s deliberate authorial choice to write her an epistolary novel, in other words, to write The Color Purple through a series of personal letters, which are addressed both to other characters and to God. This authorial choice creates a more intimate mood throughout the novel, as it allows us to see into the inner workings of many of the close interpersonal relationships in the novel, most notably between sisters Celie and Nettie. Moreover, the novel delves into themes of resilience and perseverance in the face of extreme and prolonged adversity.

One such example of resilience and optimism in the face of a formidable adversary can be found on page 132, in a letter written by Nettie and addressed to Celie, “But on the other hand, if you can believe I am in Africa, which I am, you can believe anything.”(pg. 132). One of the first letters written by Nettie and read by Celie and Shug convey a sense of optimism and resilience that is both uplifting and engaging for the reader. Moreover, not only does Alice Walker masterfully utilize diction and register in this quotation, but also uses the structural form of her novel to invoke such a powerful yet personal response. The epistolary nature of the novel allows a more intimate and personal perspective of each of the characters. This grants us perspective into the psyches of Nettie and Celie. In the above quotation, Nettie demonstrates optimism that she and Celie will reunite after her time in Africa as a missionary is finished. It is important to note that Celie and Nettie have been forcefully separated for more than a decade at this point of the novel, with this letter being one of the first Celie has read from Nettie during that period of time. Therefore, the intimate nature of a personal letter, despite years of no communication, Nettie’s optimism in her future and her reunification with her sister Celie, has revealed that she has held onto hope that she and Celie will be together again. This is why Alice Walker’s compositional choice of using an epistolary format is so effective in evoking this sense of resilience.

As I have mentioned, Alice Walker’s deliberate authorial and compositional choice to use an epistolary format in her writing of The Color Purple has a profound and lasting literary effect on the reader, especially regarding the themes of optimism and resilience demonstrated by Walker’s characters. However, this authorial choice also left a profound mark on me as a reader, especially with regard to the tone and attitude that Nettie employs while living life as a missionary in Africa. The resilience and optimism displayed by Nettie provokes questions regarding the influences of happiness and fulfillment, as well as what it means to be fulfilled.


The Color Purple – PR

The Color Purple by Alice Walker is undoubtedly one of the most uplifting novels that I have read, revealing signs of hope and optimism as the novel progresses. Breaking into the first few pages of the novel, we were introduced to some very gruesome and unsettling imagery from the text that twisted my stomach ” Then he push his thing inside my pussy. When it hurt, I cry”, yet I still kept an open mind for what was to come, and let me tell you, this book did not disappoint. One thing that was hard to get used to was the narrative technique used by Walker as most of the letters were written informally with an old-fashioned American accent. At the beginning of the novel, It almost felt as if I was learning a new language, not quite piecing together what Celie was saying or expressing. But as the story unfolded, I adapted to this specific accent that Celie possessed, ironically leading me to be annoyed when the narrative switched to Nettie, who is much more clear and understanding with her choice of words. Although I had trouble understanding Celie because of her accent and the way Walker chose to narrate this story, I realized by doing so, it provided authenticity, voice, and cultural context, making me feel significantly more immersive and emotionally connected which enhanced my reading experience.

As this epistolary continued, I felt more invested and found myself intrigued by the growth that Celie endured throughout her journey. As many characters were introduced, I believe that Celie, the protagonist, endured the most profound character development. From my observations, Celie had a great showing of resilience, and self-discovery as the novel progressed. Starting from her limited perspective of the world and the oppression of racism, sexism, and abuse faced as a black woman in rural Georgia, to a transformation leading to the ability to confront her painful past, heal, and forgive for closure and inner peace. What amazed me about Celie was the way she was able to overcome adversity and hardships within her lifetime. This can be exemplified when Celie undergoes years of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse by her stepfather, Alphonso, as well as her husband, Albert. Overcoming these challenges, we can see that Celie’s Sister, Nettie, acts as a catalyst by being that one piece in Celie’s life where the emotional connection she shares with her sister becomes a source of emotional support. As I continued to read, I felt a great amount of pent-up emotions behind the shared letters and a feeling of excitement as it continued to hold onto the hope of the sisters reuniting one day. 

Overall, I am very happy to have read this novel, as it was my first time reading an “epistolary”. The novel The Color Purple by Alice Walker exceeded my expectations in many ways. While the initial graphic and unsettling imagery made me question what was to come, I’m grateful that I continued with an open mind because the narrative’s progression revealed an inspiring story of Celie that showed a profound understanding of resilience, transformation, and hope.

The Color Purple PR

The Color Purple is a book that stood out to me compared to all the novels we read. It is a story with a “good” ending which already was a surprise considering Mr. MacKnight’s trend of giving us the most morbid pieces of literature he could find. It was also a very oddly composed novel, written in letters from the protagonist Celie to god. these letters would often be no more than a couple pages long and could be written days or months apart. At first this was also quite a surprise and me and other students voiced our concerns in our class discussions about whether we would be able to have any idea what was going on in the book with such a limited style. It also had the viewpoint of two protagonists, The sisters Celie and Nettie. this was something that surprised me mostly because it came out of nowhere, I did not expect much of the book would be from Nettie’s point of view even after being introduced to it, but a significant portion of the second half of the book is the letters Nettie writes to Celie.

Where I find that the book stands out the most though, is the fact that it succeeded to interest me. I am not a person of change, I generally hate it. If I have to switch between studying math and English, I struggle, ending a book series and trying to start a new one, I struggle. I thought it would apply to a situation like this where I am too familiar with the books we have been reading, but the change this book brings is refreshing. I enjoyed the ending as it felt like everyone got what they deserved. Celie, after working hard for so long and enduring hardships deserved a husband and family who could at least appreciate all of this, Nettie, always being a good sister, got to travel, and learn. Whereas Alphonso met an end which finally benefitted the two girls, giving them the family home. This gave a sense of closure that was much warmer than A Dolls House or Pygmalion, where the closure is the separation of the main characters. Although as I mentioned I was skeptical of the format of the book, I quickly got used to it and liked it too. It was not all too different to a regular first person narrative, just a little more sporadic. First person is my favourite point of view in stories as it helps me relate with the protagonist and understand the story. I also read a lot of first person stories as a kid like the Rick Riordan novels so it is also more comfortable (in the end being less change than I realized). Finally the dual protagonist idea worked because of the letter writing format. Celie is writing letters to god? how about we add a few letters of Nettie writing letters to Celie! It just works. it doesn’t break some kind of fourth wall where suddenly you’ve teleported from one brain to another, its like reading an exchange of letters, which is what it is.

In conclusion I enjoyed The Color Purple regardless of how much it deviated from what we normally read. it managed to captivate me with its style, and leave me content with its ending. Whether it was the work of Alice Walker or just the right book for me I am not sure but regardless I am inspired to read more books like it.

The Colour Purple PR

The Colour Purple is a controversial novel written by Alice Walker. It is criticized due to the stereotypes of the black community that are portrayed in the book. However, I appreciate the authentic and realistic description of the situation and convention in society, in particularly Georgia, during the early to mid-19th century.

The society of The Colour Purple rationalized gender oppression and racial oppression as it is a patriarchal and white superior society. Women must obey men’s demands, just as Sofia must obey Harpo’s demands; Celie must obey Albert’s command. Celie, the main character of The Colour Purple, obeys Albert and work like a “tree” burying her own feeling. When Albert beats her, she does not fight back. In contrast with Celie, Sofia, a rebellion against her husband, Harpo’s command, is beaten by Harpo as a result and as everyone’s expectation. However, in response to the theme of the disruption of traditional gender roles, Sofia does not obey him, she fights against him. Squeak, Harpo’s new girlfriend has been longing for respect by wanting people to address her by her real name – Mary Agnes. In response to another theme – racial equality, black people are not necessarily working for white people anymore. Nettie used to think Africa was the “heaven” for black people until she saw African black people in Monrovia working for European companies. This demonstrates the social division and racial inequality even in the “heaven of black people”. In response to another theme of The Colour Purple – racial equality, society, some white people start to respect black people, particularly Eleanor Jane, the mayor’s wife after Sofia teaches her to drive. At the end of the story, Eleanor Jane works for Albert’s family by making yam for Henrietta to cure her disease.

Celie’s transformation and self-discovery process are also significant in The Colour Purple. Celie buries her emotions when she is first with Albert. She aims to stay alive.

I don’t fight. I stay where I’m told. But I’m alive. (Celie, p.22)

Celie just hopes to stay alive regardless of how she is treated, she bears everything just to stay alive due to her devastating past, including being sexually abused by her “father”. The Colour Purple, for me, signifies Celie’s thoughts and ideas. When Kate, who is Albert’s sister brings Celie to buy new clothes, Celie wants clothes with purple and red but there are not any purple and red is too expensive. This shows the suppression from other people towards Celie. Throughout The Colour Purple, Celie starts to express her idea once she knows Shug accepts her. She also realizes that she is not sexually attracted to men, but to women, which challenges the gender convention in the narrow-minded society during the 19th century. Celie does not wear pants because she thinks Albert does not allow her to, yet when Shug tells her to try, she loves to wear them. She even starts a business of making pants for everyone, and everyone accepts her new thoughts and ideas. This encourages Celie to express her ideas and own self to other people as people will accept who she is. At the end of the story, Celie renovates the house that Alphonso, her and Nettie’s stepdad’s heritage. She paints her room purple and red. This resonates with the beginning, in which Celie wants clothes in purple and red. Her room signifies that she finds a safe and free space to express her own ideas and thoughts, where no one judges.

A quote near the end of The Colour Purple strikes my mind:

I start to wonder why us need love. Why us suffer. Why us black. Why us men and women. Where do children really come from. It didn’t take long to realize I didn’t hardly know nothing. And that if you ast yourself why you black or a man or a woman or a bush it don’t mean nothing if you don’t ask why you here, period. (p.280)

My interpretation of this quote is if we spend our entire lives wondering why unfortunate events happen to us, and why people treat us badly, it is a waste of time and effort since it means nothing. Instead, we should wonder why are we living and for what are we living. This motivates us to live even when we are experiencing unfortunate, just like Celie, even though she experiences devastating events throughout life, she stays alive, hoping to reunite with Nettie in the future. This makes her life memorable. This quote reminds me that even when life treats you badly, stay hopeful and optimistic, and find something that is worth your attention to motivate you to stay alive. Live isn’t that bad and it will eventually be better, like the reunion of Celie, Nettie, and her children at the end of the story.

The Color Purple PR

The Color Purple by Alice walker was a book that, initially, I didn’t care for. However, much like many of the other classics we have read I found myself getting more and more engaged. Until eventually one might say that I even ENJOYED reading it. The Color Purple was a book like no other. I have never read a book which  was solely composed of short letters, yet funnily it was these short letters that kept me so intrigued. Walker’s artistry as a writer and her deliberate choices in crafting the narrative contribute significantly to the emotional and intellectual impact this novel has on its audience. The two Authorial choices that resonated most with me were the use of Celie’s letters as a way to connect with readers and infusing the narrative with the authenticity of dialect. Walker is able to weave a story that evokes both deep sorrow and profound inspiration.

One of the remarkable features of Walker’s writing is her skillful use of multiple narrative voices. The story primarily unfolds through the medium of letters penned by Celie, the central character, addressed to God. This unique format grants us intimate access to Celie’s innermost thoughts and feelings. Walker’s decision to employ this epistolary style fosters a profound sense of connection between the reader and Celie. We are privy to her incredible transformation from a voiceless, oppressed young woman into a resilient and independent individual. Reading Celie’s letters feels akin to peering into someone’s private journal, forging an unbreakable bond of empathy and immersion that few other narrative techniques can achieve.

Walker’s portrayal of Celie’s voice is nothing short of authentic and distinct. Celie’s voice evolves as she gains self-assurance and self-esteem. Her initial letters are marked by pain, confusion, and a profound lack of self-worth. Yet, as the story unfolds, her letters grow progressively more assertive, and her voice resonates with newfound strength. This evolution serves as both a heartwarming and inspiring testament to Celie’s unwavering resilience in the face of adversity. As a reader, I couldn’t help but cheer for her every step of the way.

Furthermore, I couldn’t help but draw parallels between The Color Purple and Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw. Walker masterfully employs dialect and vernacular language throughout the novel, imbuing the characters and setting with a profound sense of authenticity. This is very similar to the way in which Eliza’s speech changes from a cockney accent to eloquent and refined “proper” speech throughout the pages of Pygmalion. Walker’s characters’ distinctive voices and speech patterns breathe life into them, making them seem real and relatable. This narrative choice not only immerses the reader in the rural Southern culture but also underscores the significance of individuality and the transformative power of language in shaping one’s identity.

Alice Walker’s writing in “The Color Purple” is a remarkable blend of narrative choices that leaves an enduring impact on readers. Through the intimate medium of Celie’s letters and the authenticity of dialect, Walker crafts a narrative that is both heartrending and up lifting. This novel stands as a testament to the strength of the human spirit and the enduring power of storytelling to inspire change and empathy.

Some Thoughts on Our Recent Read

After reading the first few pages, I knew I wasn’t going to like this book, due to its graphic nature, which took me by surprise. ” Then he push his thing inside my pussy…” (Pg 1). We are given a very vivid and lucid description of the main character being sexually abused by her stepfather on the first page! We are then subjected to experiencing a 14 year old girl undergo some of the worst physical and mental experiences a human being might experience (getting impregnated by your father, or lack of parental love ). These elements bred into the plot of the story made this an uncomfortable read at the very least. However, as the story progressed, it presented new elements that I enjoyed, and an example is the character development. The most profound example of that can be seen with Mr. (aka) Albert. He is introduced and described to be a man similar to the main character’s father (Celie), which speaks volume.

“He beat me like he beat the children. Cept he don’t never hardly beat them. He say, Celie, git the belt. The children be outside the room peeking through the cracks. Its all I can do not to cry.” (Pg 22)

She was married off to an abusive man who seamlessly beat her given any inconvenience caused by her, and also the same person whom instilled the fear of men in her. We see him transform into a completely different person after Celie leaves his house with Shug. We learn he was a likeable person in the past but changed because he couldn’t be with the woman he loves (Shug). Anyhow, he changes and comes to realize the pain he caused for Celie and changes.

“I know you won’t believe this, Miss Celie, say Sofia, but Mr.   act like he trying to git religion. Big a devil as he is, I say, trying is bout all he can do. He don’t go to church or nothing, but he not so quick to judge. He work real hard too. What? I say Mr.    work!” (Pg 221)

” Dear God, My mama dead. She died screaming and cussing.” (Pg 2). Another interesting feature of this book is that most of its chapters begin with “Dear God”. The main character narrates the story in the format of a diary or a journal addressed to God, and the significance of this choice intrigues me. The events Celie undergoes are terrible and scarring, and by writing them down, it may serve as a perseverance and a source of strength to remind Celie of what she’s experienced to overcome any new challenges that may appear. In addition, this feature reminds me of a popular Catholic practice, in which a person stays inside a “Confession Booth”, and relays information that they would preferably not let other people know. Although, the people confess in the presence of a Pastor, they are supposedly speaking directly to God during the practice. The process and outcome of confessing is similar to Celie’s narrative style.

In addition, Walker’s decision to include Nettie in the voice of narration was also interesting, and represents more that meets the eye. Prior, to Celie’s discovery of Nettie’s letters, Celie was the only narrator and her experiences and perspective became the readers idea of the world she lived in. So, Celie’s world and perspective were very similar to that of the readers. Which included the antagonization of all men, the existence of only black and white people and their hierarchy in relation to one another, and the only “good” people being Shug and Nettie. However, once Nettie begins narrating her experiences, both Celie’s and the readers idea of their world shifts. She experiences different pleasures such as traveling and finding something she’s passionate about. She meets kind men, and discovers other cultures in which men and women coexist. She experiences selfishness and “evil” from both blacks and whites. She falls in love and experiences the joy of raising and having children.

Identity and Belonging in The Color Purple

The Color Purple written by Alice Walker raised questions involving the concepts of identity, belonging and purpose. One of the many recurring themes was the questioning of identity, who we are. This theme opened the door to other questions such as where do we belong?  The question who are we is a daunting question, but there are many obvious answers for example, we are human, babies, children, adults, males, females, Canadians, Americans, students, athletes etc. The not so obvious question beyond this is who are we and in relation where do we belong? In The Color Purple Walker utilizes the feelings, experiences and development of  characters from a variety of backgrounds to question the concepts of identity and belonging.

 The first example of this is seen with Samuel and Nettie’s experience with the Olinka’s in Africa. Samuel and Nettie travelled to Africa as missionaries. Although Samuel identifies as an African American he has trouble fitting in with the Olinka’s. The natives viewed the missionaries as outsiders and showed their indifference to them on multiple occasions. Such as when Nettie is told by a tribal member that the Olinka’s do not need to listen to the missionaries because most of them will die anyway. Samuel struggles with his feeling of belonging when he realizes the Olinka’s do not appreciate his presence. He states 

 “The Africans don’t even see us. They don’t even recognize us as brothers and sisters they sold. Why don’t you speak our language? They ask. Why can’t you remember the old ways? Why aren’t you happy in America if everyone drives motorcars” (p.235).  

Walker’s use of Samuels feelings realizing he is not accepted as a true part of the Olinka tribe after many years shows the theme of identity vs belonging. The effect of reading this passage entices the reader to question even though our identity places us in certain categories does it mean we belong there? Samuel later finds his identity and belonging with Nettie when they marry and he spends his life with her. 

The second example of The Color Purple challenging the idea of identity is through the character of Tashi. She was born and raised with the Olinka tribe. She grows up learning that girls only need to learn wife responsibilities and that girls do not go to school. This is very different than the beliefs in America. She goes through the women scarification ceremony which is also uncommon in America but truly places her identity as Olinka. When Adam asks to marry her she refuses;

“Because of the scarification marks on her cheeks, Americans would look down on her as a savage, and shun her and whatever children her and Adam might have”(p.276). 

Walker uses Tashi’s experiences as an Olinka person and feelings towards America to show her conflict with identifying with the Olinka’s and not belonging in America. Adam’s response to this is joining Tashi and completing an Olinka sacrificial ceremony to resemble the same scars on his face as well as saying to Tashi that she would have  

“ A country, people, parents, a sister, husband, brother and lover and that whatever befell her in America  would also be his own choice and his own lot” (p.277). 

Adam saying this as well as joining in on Tashi’s culture makes her feel accepted and happy to go to America with him.  The effect of Adam’s feelings and actions towards Tashi makes the reader focus on Tashi’s and Adam’s strong bond. In turn questioning if belonging can be defined as a person and not a place in society?

The third and main example of struggle with identity and belonging is Celie’s character. In Celie’s early life her identity was masked by submission and the overshadowing of her abusers like Albert and Alfonso. She was lost and her feelings were suppressed. Walker uses Celie addressing her letters to God in the beginning of the novel to show that she only identifies with God and struggles with feeling alone. Through the progression of the novel Celie’s true identity and feelings begin to show. She starts feeling emotions such as anger at Albert or love for Shug.

“Before I knew it tears met under my chin. And I’m confuse”(p.72). 

Walker’s use of Celie expressing emotions for Shug for the first time in the novel shows the reader that Celie finally discovers a different part of her identity by exploring her sexualilty. Her letters start to be addressed to Nettie instead of God the effect of this shows Celie’s belief of her and Nettie belonging together.  When Celie receives Alfonso’s house she describes it to Nettie in a letter as

“A house big enough for us and our children, for your husband and Shug” (p.244).

expressing her feeling of want to be with Nettie and Shug.  Thus allowing the reader to realize even though in the past Ceile has identified as submissive with no emotion she does not anymore. Celie realizes she is better than a toxic relationship with a man like Alfonso or Albert. Walker’s uses Celie’s feelings and bonds show that a sense of belonging is not only determined by one’s past identity but also by those who genuinely accept us and love us.

Personally the belief that our identity does not define where we belong is something that resonates with me. As a person who is a dual citizenship holder as well as physically portrays a different nationality then both those citizenships I have a lot of identities. This has me questioning where I belong. I don’t fully fit in with Canadians because I appear different. I don’t fully fit in with my grandparents and extended family because I don’t speak the native tongue or practice the religion.  This makes me an outsider to both groups similarly to how Samuel felt in Olinka’s or how Tashi feels about Americans.  The one thing I do have is the people who I am surrounded by who support me, my friends and family. The people that I have shared similar experiences with and who I bond with. They are where I truly belong.

Who we are and where we belong, although closely related, are not solely dependent on each other. This concept leads to the second philosophical question brought up by this novel: what is the purpose of life?  This question can open up all new conversations and perspectives but I think it’s crucial to mention Albert’s answer to  this question in the novel. When asked what our purpose is by Celie, Albert responds by saying;

“I think us here to wonder, myself. To wonder. To ask. And that in wondering bout the big things and asking bout the big things, you learn about the little ones, almost by accident. But you never know nothing more about the big things than you start out with. The more I wonder, the more I love” (p.281).

Celie responds to this by saying “And people start to love you back, I bet” (p.281). This again ties in theme of belonging with those who you love and those who love you. Overall, Walker uses the characters in The Colour Purple to compare and contrast the themes of identity and belonging. Through the characterization of feelings and experiences the reader discovers that identity is not always shaped by who you are or where you come from but by those that love you.

For Samuel this is Nettie, for Tashi this is Adam, as for Celie she belongs with Shug regardless of their identity in the past, present or future.