#LiteraryCriticism: The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Alice Walker’s The Color Purple follows the personal and spiritual growth of an impregnated and abused African American girl in the South. Celie finds her voice and personal identity over the years. As such, the work does function as a feminist novel. However, its deeper thematic elements offer an alternative approach to spirituality. What follows is a literary criticism paper I once wrote for an undergraduate course in American Literature. Alice Walker’s book just also happens to be one of my most favorite novels.

The following comment appeared on last week’s book review of Finding Mother: “You really dig deep and bring out things many readers wouldn’t know how to articulate.” Needless to say, those types of comments please me immensely. After all, I’ve put years into studying the craft of writing. Granted this piece is long, but it does allow a glimpse into writing literary criticism. By comparison, my bi-weekly book reviews are a piece of cake!

Cover image of The Color Purple by Alice Walker

The God Within: Structure and Spirituality in The Color Purple

In a world that is all too often obsessed with attaining spiritual enlightenment as if it were a twelve-step program to the gates of heaven, sometimes a voice comes along that transcends the myriad of confusing and contradictory rules that numerous religions use to shuffle followers to the promised land. In The Color Purple Alice Walker rises above the confines of gender and race in relation to religion. Her voice is also Celie’s voice—the voice of a person who has grappled with ideas of God and religion in order to allow an interpretation of a higher power that inspires characters within the book as well as its readers. The author draws attention to what happens when someone is forced to live by established ideologies that exclude rather than include many people. The journey of self-discovery that Walker’s protagonist, Celie, undergoes is accentuated by an internal understanding of God that is woven into the structure of the novel. Indeed, the novel’s structure relies on Walker’s development of Celie’s growing spiritual awareness.

Throughout the book, Alice Walker develops a concept of God that moves beyond the rigid God of Christianity. It is Walker’s vision of God that directs each scene. Within the book, God and the characters constantly change for the better. Celie redefines her notion of God as she interacts with people and in turn writes her observations in her diary as letters addressed to God. The vision of God developed in the novel enables Celie to survive and even be happy as she nurtures a spirituality that embraces her strengths and weaknesses while she grows and changes as a person in an often brutal and perplexing world.

People can change for the better when they demand a loving God as well as a place in the world.

Walker traces Celie’s journey from living in fear of a patriarchal God that is difficult to identify with to Celie’s eventual joy and acceptance of herself, others, and the serenity to be found in daily life. Celie eventually can move beyond a life full of suffering because she realizes life offers so much more as she hones the ability to change and grow. By infusing Celie with such a capacity for growth, the author acts as a spiritual guide throughout the novel and “unfolds a model both of and for human beings who are threatened by cultural disorder and by a loss of connection with themselves, with each other, and with the world” (Lewis 483-84).

The disconnection between people and the world is at the heart of the book. This disconnection underlies and advances the novel’s structure that relies on showing how people can change for the better when they demand a loving God as well as a place in the world. Regardless of the personalized version of God and the universe that Celie eventually develops, it becomes clear that the characters need a source of love and guidance in their life that grants them peace with their chosen roles rather than seeking a place within society’s narrow confines. As Dror Abend-David asserts, “the significance is not so much in the qualities that God is denied as in the qualities that God is finally awarded” (17).

“You better not tell nobody but God. It’d kill your mammy.”

Walker’s guidance begins with the Stevie Wonder epigraph “Show me how to do like you / Show me how to do it.” This gives the reader a sense that the book will be an example of how to achieve a way of doing something—a way of how to come to terms with an issue. Then the novel begins with the ominous warning, “You better not tell nobody but God. It’d kill your mammy.” (Walker 1). So Celie begins to write letters to God.

The novel’s epistolary form enables Celie to develop a sense of self as well as a sense of God. As Celie becomes a more efficient writer, she applies those communication skills to the rest of the world. The writing process inherently yields itself to unearthing new ways of looking at situations. Were it not for Celie’s letters, her personal growth would not be so remarkable. On the most sweeping scale, the novel’s structure begins with Celie writing letters to God out of fear while unknowingly beginning the process of self-discovery. Then Nettie’s letters function to aide in Celie’s journey and Celie stops writing to God and writes to the more tangible Nettie. Celie’s final letter addresses everything under the sun. Walker uses this form to show how passionately the world is connected on all levels.

“You ought to bash Mr. ____ head open…Think bout heaven later.”

Jeannine Thyreen points out that Celie’s notion of God is a result of such hopeless circumstances that include the “racist and sexist atmosphere in which she lives and the oppression with which she is constantly faced” (52). Celie is trapped in an overwhelming world and when worried about protecting her sister, she tells Nettie that she will “take care of [her]. With God help” (Walker 4). This is the same God that Celie tells her mother is the father of her babies because she can’t come to terms with being raped by her stepfather (Walker 3). Celie is being a true Christian by chalking up a bad situation to the power and inaccessible love of God.

The first glimmer of Celie’s capacity to redefine God occurs when she feels bad for advising Harpo to beat Sofia into submission, “I sin against Sofia spirit” (Walker 41). Once again, Celie relies on prescribed notions of behavior, even when it causes harm to those involved because she doesn’t know any better (Thyreen 54). Celie’s passive acceptance of her situation comes across when she and Sofia talk to each other. Sofia is Celie’s opposite. Sofia is strong in mind and body, not to mention quick to anger. Her spiritual beliefs are not made explicitly clear which is not necessary because Sofia is a born fighter. Celie thinks, “I can’t even remember the last time I felt mad” (Walker 43). Since Celie lacks the ability to vent her frustration through anger, it becomes even more important that she gain the ability to come to terms with the god that dictates and influences the actions of her daily life. Celie mentions the promise of an afterlife, and Sofia says, “You ought to bash Mr. ____ head open…Think bout heaven later” (Walker 44). Unlike Celie, Sofia demands her life in the here and now to be a happy one, even if she has to fight for it. Despite the oppressive constraints of religion on her life, Celie finds what Sofia says funny. Even though Celie is not ready to leave behind such constraining notions of God behind, she finds some measure of fulfillment in talking to and coming to a measure of understanding with Sofia.

Celie eventually realizes that she deserves happiness regardless of the promise of an afterlife.

After Celie reaches peace over betraying Sofia, Shug Avery comes to town. Shug is the catalyst that allows Celie to embark on an active spiritual journey because Celie’s infatuation with and eventual love for Shug enables Celie to focus on a good aspect of her life. When Celie narrates the circumstances revolving around Shug’s arrival, the author employs Celie to report on the hypocrisy of the church. Of course, Celie is not aware of the implications of the scene she describes. Nonetheless, the act of observing pays off for Celie in the long run because she eventually realizes that she deserves happiness regardless of the promise of an afterlife.

People at the church gossip about Shug. The preacher speaks of her without saying Shug’s name, “Talk about slut, hussy, heifer, and streetcleaner…Somebody got to stand up for Shug” (Walker 46). Celie isn’t too surprised that Mr. ____ won’t defend his lover. The surprise in this scene comes from Celie’s mild assertion of the need for justice, which is part of the process of Celie’s spiritual awakening. Like she feels for Sofia, Celie becomes intrigued with the thought of another woman so unlike herself.

“First time I think about the world.”

At first, Celie chalks Shug’s will to live up to being evil—“that keep her alive” (Walker 49). It’s difficult for Celie to ponder other reasons why Shug is so headstrong. In Celie’s world, people like Shug are evil—not because Celie feels that way, but because her upbringing has beat that perception into her head. Yet, Celie is drawn to Shug, whose nickname “The Queen Honeybee” seems fitting since Celie flocks to her like a bee to honey.

A series of small and giant steps concerning Celie’s interaction with Shug gradually awakens Celie on many levels. The larger structure provided by the letters entails depictions of Celie’s steps toward spiritual peace. Shug’s assertion that all women are not the same causes Celie to think, “First time I think about the world” (Walker 60). Later, Sofia says, “Life don’t stop just because you leave home, Miss Celie” (Walker 85), and this sets Celie to thinking that Shug makes her feel alive again. Celie’s ability to love and identify with Shug begins to draw her out of her shell.

“Shug’s theology allows a diving, self-authorized sense of self.”

The relationship that forms between Celie and Shug eventually culminates with Shug sharing her vision of God with Celie. Mae G. Henderson point out, “Unlike Celie, who derives her sense of self from the dominant white and male theology, Shug is a self-invented character whose sense of self is not male-inscribed. Her theology allows a diving, self-authorized sense of self” (73).

Walker prepares the reader for Shug’s conception of God by paralleling Celie’s burgeoning growth beyond the grasp of a theology that doesn’t embrace her to events encountered by other characters that reflect Celie’s growing awareness of a desire and need to assert her wishes. In Sofia’s encounter with the mayor’s wife, the author once again emphasizes people’s capacity to overcome bad situations. Sofia may temporarily be subjected to the control of the white man’s world, but her spirit enables her to overcome. Likewise, small incidences like Squeak demanding to be called Mary Agnes result from Celie’s advice and the growing sense of self that both characters develop. Most important of all is that Walker structurally balances Celie’s crossing into a spiritually fulfilling life by introducing Nettie’s letters that Mr. ____ hid from Celie.

Walker demonstrates the futility of boiling problems down to racial lines.

Discovering Nettie’s letters finally causes Celie to be actively angry at Mr. _____, not to mention Celie has the assurance of a healthy mental and physical relationship with Shug to bring out her confidence. However, Nettie’s letters often feel like too blatant of a reflection of the spiritual struggle that Celie is not yet able to put into her own words.

Nettie can express, “I hadn’t realized I was so ignorant, Celie” (Walker 138). The letters also bring forth some hypocritical issues that Celie was formerly unable to put into words, such as when Nettie writes, “It is the pictures in the bible that fool you” (Walker 140-41). Nettie’s letters forever work to broaden her concept of God in relation to her experience in Africa in contrast to Celie’s limited understanding. Diane Gabrielsen Scholl discusses how Nettie’s experience broadens the scope of the novel by showing how the Africans often set up their own systems of oppression that have nothing to do with the oppression that is inflicted by white people (260). Here, Walker demonstrates the futility of boiling problems down to racial lines. By illustrating the destruction of the Olinka as partially being their own fault, Walker takes some pressure off of the tendency to blame bad situations on anything but the people at hand.

“What God do for me?”

Still, for how much Nettie’s correspondence enlightens Celie’s situation, it also is as a device that brings about Celie’s dismissal of the god she writes to, “You must be sleep” (Walker 183). Celie is still in conflict over worshipping a god that seems not to care about her. In her next letter, Celie no longer writes to a god she cannot identify with. Instead, she addresses her letters to Nettie. When Celie asks Shug, “What God do for me?” (Walker 199), Shug’s shares what God means to her with Celie:

She say, Celie, tell the truth, have you ever found God in church? I never did. I just found a bunch of folks hoping for him to show. Any God I ever felt in church I brought in with me. And I think all the other folks did too. They come to church to share God, not find God… You come into the world with God. But only them that search for it inside find it… God ain’t a he or she, but a It… I believe God is everything, say Shug. Anything that is or was or every will be (Walker 200-03).

Shug’s God represents the inductive God that the novel upholds in order for the characters to grow in their journey to know their selves, others, and God. Jeannine Thyreen considers postmodernism’s impact on Walker’s representation of God. Essentially, she asserts the hope that Walker offers her readers by describing God within a new context that “seeks to recognize the social/historical/cultural contexts” of traditional deductive notions of God (51). It’s not that Walker abandons the bible and its teachings, but she leaves room for improvement in the lives of her characters that do not live by the words of the bible alone. Walker’s vision includes both inductive and deductive aspects, but she emphasizes the role of personal interpretation because Celie must begin to learn to relate to the world in relation to numerous factors, not just the unrelenting do’s and don’ts of various religions. Celie’s eyes are opened when she begins the process of redefining God and the author poses the question to the reader: How can we grow as people if we do not question what came before us in order to fix the wrongs?

The book represents the struggle to develop an encompassing theology within the confines of a restraining theology.

In the tenth anniversary edition of The Color Purple, Walker shares what the book means to her, “it remains for me [a] theological work examining the journey from the religious back to the spiritual that I spent much of my adult life, prior to writing it, seeking to avoid” (qtd. in Thyreen 49). The book represents Celie’s, as well as Walker’s, struggle to develop an encompassing theology within the confines of a restraining theology. The author’s real life spiritual journey is reflected in the pages of her book and has continued after its publication.

In her book Anything We Love Can Be Saved Walker expands on some of the ideas underlying the theology presented within the structure of The Color Purple. The author recalls how her parents and grandparents led an existence under the pretense that they must fix flaws that weren’t real because those flaws were defined by so-called “’men of God’ [who were] really men of greed, misogyny, and violence” (4). She goes on to stress that all people deserve to be loved by God and that is why she feels Nature is a good choice for the role because it won’t “find anything wrong with your natural way” (25).

“Everything is a part of everything else.”

Part of the book’s shape results from Walker writing as a womanist whose philosophy reflects the part of feminism that demands answers for past actions and looks toward to the capacity that all people have to grow and change. Marc—A Christophe describes womanism as “the reattachment of humankind to a cosmogonic worldview where everything is part of everything else, a world that would give importance to all living creatures, big and small, for they are expressions of the divine” (107).

In 1973, Walker said, “the truth is probably that I don’t believe there is a God, although I would like to believe it” (qtd. in Scholl 265). For Walker to reduce herself to outright atheism would deny the joy and suffering she has found in exploring religion. And that is what Walker does with her book in allowing Celie to grow strong as a person through a series of incidents that bring her to a greater understanding of God and of herself.

“Until you do right by me, everything you touch will crumble.”

Shug’s sharing her understanding of God with Celie is the turning point in the novel that acts as a wake-up call for Celie: “Now that my eyes opening, I feels like a fool” (Walker 204). The author has carefully brought Celie to the moment when she can find the strength and courage within herself and “enter into the Creation” (Walker 207). For the first time, Celie has the power to actively change and better her life. Because Celie can finally confront Mr. _____ about Nettie’s letters and curse him, “until you do right by me, everything you touch will crumble” (Walker 213). This is a far cry from the girl at the beginning of the novel who cringed at all of life. Indeed, one of the happiest moments in the novel occurs when Celie asserts, “but I’m here” (Walker 214). The simple joy of being in the world successfully brings the purpose of Walker’s structure to the forefront. A connection to her inner-strength and a more internal God allows Celie a connection to the beautiful here and now of the world.

What follows allows Walker to show the result of coming to terms with religion. In a scene that is blasphemous and comical at the same time, Celie smokes pot when she wants to talk to God. Harpo’s and Sofia’s shock serves to reflect the reader’s reaction, but Walker isn’t so much advocating smoking marijuana so much as she is supporting the way it enables the three to feel the presence of “everything” (Walker 227).

Celie’s final letter brings the spiritual structure of the novel full circle.

Nettie’s eyes are also opened concerning the essence of God via her years in Africa. Nettie writes, “and not being tied to what God looks like, frees us” (Walker 264). Even Mr. _____ becomes Albert in Celie’s eyes and Celie can learn to live without Shug. Celie observes, “I be so calm” (Walker 290). Celie has moved beyond the blind acceptance that history teaches in order to reach a greater and more personal version of the truth.

The Color Purple reaches out to anyone who’s felt confused about the role of God and religion in their life and offers an alternative approach. Celie’s final letter brings the spiritual structure of the novel full circle. Celie addresses that letter to, “Dear God. Dear Stars, dear trees, dear sky, dear peoples. Dear everything. Dear God” (Walker 292). Not only can Celie express her happiness to God, she shares it with all of creation. And the reader whispers, amen.

*The list of works cited in this paper appears at the end of the blog post.

What reactions did you have to either the book or its movie version? What other novels with similar themes come to mind?

***Thanks to all who took my blog survey. Results will be posted next week.***

The cover image used in this post is for promotional purposes only and complies with fair use guidelines.

Article by Jeri Walker-Bickett aka JeriWB

Works Cited

Adend David, Dror. “The Occupational Hazard: The Loss of Historical Context in Twentieth-Century Feminist Readings, and a New Reading of the Heroine’s Story in Alice Walker’s The Color Purple.” Critical Essays on Alice Walker. Ed. Ikenna Dieke. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1999. 13-20.

Christophe, Marc—A, “The Color Purple: An Existential Novel. Critical Essays on Alice Walker. Ed. Ikenna Dieke. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1999. 101-107.

Henderson, Mae G. “The Color Purple: Revisions and Redefinitions.” Alice Walker. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1988. 67-80.

Lewis, T. W. III. “Moral Mapping and Spiritual Guidance in The Color Purple.” Soundings: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Vol. 73. (1990 Summer-Fall). 483-491.

Scholl, Diane Gabrielsen. “With Ears to Hear and Eyes to See: Alice Walker’s Parable The Color Purple.” Christianity and Literature, Vol. 40 (Spring 1991). 255-266.

Thyreen, Jeannine. “Alice Walker’s The Color Purple: Redefining God and (Re)Claiming the Spirit Within. Christianity and Literature, Vol. 49 (Autumn 1999). 49-66.

Walker, Alice. Anything We Love Can Be Saved. New York: Random House, 1997.

The Color Purple. New York: Pocket Books, 1982.

Working Bibliography

Barker, E. Ellen. “The Relationship Between Celie and Shug in Alice Walker’s The Color Purple.” Critical Essays on Alice Walker. Ed. Ikenna Dieke. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1999. 55-64.

Byerman, Keith. “Walker’s Blues.” Alice Walker. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1988. 59-66.

Chambers, Kimberly R. “Right on Time: History and Religion in Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. College Language Association, Vol. 30. (1987 September). 49-62.

Christian, Barbara T. “Alice Walker.” Dictionary of Literary Biography, Vol. 33. Eds. Thadious M. Davis and Trudier Harris. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1984. 258-271.

Colton, Catherine A. “Alice Walker’s Womanist Magic: The Conjure Woman as Rhetor. Critical Essays on Alice Walker. Ed. Ikenna Dieke. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1999. 33-44.

Davis, Thadious M. “Walker’s Celebration of Self in Southern Generations.” Alice Walker. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1988. 25-37.

Frye, Northrop; Baker, Sheridan; Perkins, George; Perkins, Barbara M.; Eds. The Harper Handbook to Literature. New York: Longman, 1997. 446-447.

Hooks, Bell. “Writing the Subject: Reading The Color Purple. Alice Walker. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1988. 215-228.

Katz, Tamar. “’Show Me How to Do Like You’: Didacticism and Epistolary Form in The Color Purple.” Alice Walker. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1988. 185-193.

Leder, Priscilla. “Alice Walker’s American Quilt: The Color Purple and American Literary Tradition.” Critical Essays on Alice Walker. Ed. Ikenna Dieke. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1999. 141-151.

Smith, Felipe. “Alice Walker’s Redemptive Art.” Critcal Essays on Alice Walker. Ed. Ikenna Dieke. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1999. 109-124.

Walker, Alice. The Same River Twice: Honoring the Difficult. New York: Scribner, 1996.

Walton, Priscilla L. “’What She Got to Sing About?’: Comedy and The Color Purple. Critical Essays on Alice Walker. Ed. Ikenna Dieke. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1999. 185-196.

Winchel, Donna Haisty. “Letters to God: The Color Purple.” Alice Walker. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1992. 85-99.

Author: Jeri Walker

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36 Comments

    • Jacquie, I didn’t mention in the post how I recently listened to the audiobook version. Whether in book, audio, or film form, the power of Walker’s Pulitzer Prize winning narrative blows me away every time I come back to it.

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  1. This may come as no surprise, but I haven’t read the book nor seen the movie.

    The exploration of spirituality and religion through the work is an interesting aspect of the power of writing. We can always seek deeper meaning and thought that shows us the inner workings of the writer.

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    • Jon, though the subject matter might not be everyone’s cup of tea, the novel is also a great example in a non-traditional narrative approach. I’m really drawn to how Celie literally writes herself into existence in those letters. The technique provides an awesome take on character development, not to mention a huge statement about how literacy evolves.

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    • Bindu, thanks for stopping by. I enjoy literary criticism, but only post such articles once in a long while as they tend to run quite long.

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  2. I’ve always found the distinction between spirituality and religion difficult to define, that is difficult for me to define to others. I think your exploration of those distinctions in Walker’s writing does a beautiful job at getting at the idea. The concept of the journey from religion to spirituality is a very appealing one to me and reflects the relationship and the differences between the two.

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    • Debra, I’m glad you feel I made an adequate distinction between religion and spirituality. Like most good books, this one found at at just the right time in my life when I was grappling with those very issues.

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  3. I have not read the book as of yet but it is on my list, now especially after reading your critique. The movie was nothing short of spectacular in all that was possible. I think we, as a culture, do struggle with the difference between spirituality and religion. They are two different things to me, but the same in some ways, thus the reason for all the confusion and difficulty. I do believe (at least from the movie) the story did a very good job of distinguishing the difference between the two.

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    • Susan, Walker’s book is so profound in all its implications. I know you will love it. The movie had to cut some of the subtleties out, but I still enjoyed the movie as well and thought Whoopi Goldberg was a perfect choice to play Celie.

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  4. This is one of my favorite books of all time and you wrote a masterful lit crit of it.

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    • Jagoda, I have so many papers like this written for all of the literature classes I’ve taken. I hope to post these more lengthy criticisms at least a few times a year.

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      • I haven’t read the book, have only seen the movie, but I agree with Jagoda, this is such an amazing literary critique. You blow me away with your talents, Jeri!

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        • Laura, I’d like to think all the literary critiques lurking in my vault of papers have helped prepare me for the freelancing path I’m headed down when it comes to editing and critiquing.

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  5. I have the movie on DVD. I’ve never read the book. I put it on my wish list at Amazon. It’ll be interesting to see how close the movie has gotten to the original story.

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    • Glynis, both the book and movie succeed in exploring some really heavy thematic issues, but in entirely different ways. The movie doesn’t go nearly as deep into the journeys of discovering self-identity that occur with Harpo as well as with Mister. The movie makes issues of abuse more simplistic, whereas Walker’s book allows a glimpse at the bigger picture of how such cycles take place.

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  6. Great essay Jeri. Bizarrely The theological aspect of this book does not spring to mind when I think of it, but rather the sexual abuse, and the conflict between the two women. So it’s the relationships, as well as the desperation etc. that I took from it. I must re-read it to re-examine the heart of the book. Like many novellas by excellent authors, it’s amazing how much Alice walker manages to put into the novel. I love the idea of this as a new series. Hope to see more.

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    • A.K., there is admittedly many different thematic elements at play in Walker’s book. I was amazed by all the articles I found on how the novel treats Celie’s spiritual journey. As for regular lit crits, I think I’ll save these epic posts for just a few times a year 😉

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  7. Jeri, you never cease to amaze me with your stellar reviews. I had to read this twice. I saw the movie y-e-a-r-s ago, but regretfully have not read the book. I never realized the spiritual journey woven throughout the novel, but it’s fascinating to me. I think I have a book to read!! STAT!
    Thank you.

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    • Beth, you won’t regret reading Walker’s novel. Not only is it a fantastic story, the author also plays with form by structuring the book as a series of letter. Normally, that is a big risk, but in Walker’s deft hands, it works so well and Celie’s voice and the growth she shows would not be the same rendered any other way on the page.

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  8. Sorry so late on my reply, Jeri. I’ve been out of it for a few days. This was so awesome. It definitely stirred up some emotions. Good ones. I loved the movie though I haven’t seen it in years yet it remains so vivid in my memory.

    The emotion. I was driving my grandmother to take her out for her 90th birthday dinner (a story in of itself another day). This sweet, tiny little lady from the South who had lived out West for 50 years but still had her Southern drawl. Out of the blue, first time ever I had heard of it says, “Ya know honey, my mommy and pappy were cotton farmers. We had workers who were black folks on our estate. I don’t like today’s world for how they don’t get equal respect to what all should have.”

    WHAT???!!

    I prodded her for me and she ended the discussion, “That’s all I have to say. I’m hungry…”

    Will never forget that, my friend…

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    • Mike, thanks for sharing that anecdote. Good literature tends to have the effect of causing us to recall such moments from our lives 😉

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  9. I seen the movie The Color Purple hundreds of times. Did not know their was a book. I guess you learn something new everyday. Thanks a million for sharing this. I wonder if the book is just like the movie. Have you read and seen both?

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    • Kareem, I’ve read the book a few times and can’t say how many times I’ve seen the movie. Both are great, but for different reasons. If you like the movie, it’s probably a pretty safe bet you would enjoy the book as well.

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  10. I want to say I’ve seen the movie of this but I’m not exactly sure. It had Oprah in it, right? Again I’m probably totally wrong. Tweeting this for ya 🙂

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    • Krystle, yes Oprah as in the movie and she played the part of Sophia. She even got nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar.

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  11. “Everything is a part of everything else.”

    Hello Jeri …

    This is really a magnificent review on Alice Walker’s The Color Purple.. I knew the main features of the plot as I had seen the movie a long time ago.. But the way you have “dissected” the book here is really impressive . So many layers to discover. A feminist novel which is also against racial prejudices must interesting to read. Even more considering that Walker´s book won the Pulitzer Prize.
    Excellent overview on this book, thanks for sharing.
    Best regards, Aquileana 😉

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    • Aqui, it seems I haven’t visited this post in a while. Thanks for commenting. I love to dissect literature which is one of the reasons why I guess I don’t have much patient for books that are all surface story. Walker’s book has layer, after layer, after layer.

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  12. I saw this movie and read the book, in that order, many years ago. An unusual order to experience the story however both were amazing and the portrayal of the characters have stuck with me for a long time. The Color Purple is one of those perfect pieces of literature that cannot be dismissed.

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    • Tim, I recently listened to the audio version of Walker’s book and fell in love with it all over again. I wasn’t able to see the musical version when it came through town, but it ever tours this way again, I’ll be sure to see it.

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  13. I saw the movie many years ago and I read the book almost ten years ago for my senior project in undergrad as an English major. At the time, I wasn’t able to appreciate the spirituality aspect of the book; I was looking at it more through the lens of women’s roles in the early 1900s. Your critique is on point with respect to the spirituality/religion aspect of the book. I also like your editing samples, the fact that you’re comfortable with fiction and creative non-fiction and that you love memoirs. I am in the editing stage of my memoir, i.e. critiques and beta readers, and hope to have it ready for an editor to look at in the next couple of months. I do hope you’re available the early part of next year.

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    • LaTanya, the spiritual aspects of the book spoke so strongly to me that when the time came to develop a paper, I knew that is where my research would take me. I admire Walker’s work on so many levels. I’ve also sent you an email regarding my editing schedule. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

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  14. My best wishes for a Merry Christmas & Happy New Year! With love Maxima

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  15. Currently writing about this Novel alongside Kathryn Stockett’s ‘The Help’ as part of my Adv Higher English Dissertation. Completely brilliant and helpful view on the Novel! You have totally opened up my mind and lead me / encouraged me to have my own, new ideas / thoughts / feelings towards the Novel, the meanings behind it, it’s themes, the characters, etc! Thank you!

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    • Nev, that you very much for the comment. It makes my day to know my insights into The Color Purple will help you achieve even greater insights of your own.

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  16. Thank you very much for this insightful and layered critique of the novel, and this will help me reach my own conclusions of the novel. I am currently doing an AS-level which includes The Color Purple on the syllabus. Greatly appreciated.

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