Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Oh Celie, unbelief is a terrible thing

You're going to read this a few more times, but I am so behind with my reviews. I blame the readathon (which was awesome but gave me extra books to review) as well as Christmas for getting in the way. Not in a bad way because I heart Xmas but the whole family time thing really cuts into my computer time. So with my typical list of excuses, onto a review.

I first read The Color Purple by Alice Walker back in college, for one of those survey of American Lit classes. I read it and Beloved back to back and I always think of this as the easy book, when compared to Morrison's masterpiece. And relative to Beloved this is an easy book, at least in terms of readability and linear story telling. In terms of content however, The Color Purple deals with many difficult topics. The book starts with the main character, Celie, being repeatedly raped AND having her kids (with an "s", multiple) taken away from her. And she's only 14. So as you can tell, this is a barrel of laughs, some good light reading for the readathon.

This is a heart-breaking story as Celie writes letters, first to God then later her sister Nettie.. She goes from an abusive home life to an abusive arranged marriage. Her husband Mr.____ didn't actually want her, he wanted her sister Nettie but Celie's step-father refused to agree to that arrangement and so he settled for Celie. Life just seems to be getting worse and worse for Celie as Mr.____'s children are cruel to her and Mr.____ treats her as an object, regularly beating and talking down to her. But there is a ray of hope in a "woman of lose morals" Shug Avery.

Shug is the first person who seems to actually see Celie, who acts like a mother and friend to Celie. Shug is the person who encourages Celie to break her silence and to stand up for herself. Celie also gets a strong female role model, albeit in a more indirect way, in the form of Mr.___'s daughter-in-law, Sofia. Sofia is strong-willed, never allowing Mr.___'s son Harpo to treat her the way Mr.___ treats Celie. It's really because of her strength that some of the most tragic scenes dealt with her.

There's some eye dialectwhich I normally hate, but it's done well. And by "done well", I mean done sparingly so I don't have to read it out loud in order to understand what's going on and feel like an awful racist person. It's perhaps not the best choice to read all in one sitting, but overall it's a beautiful and tragic and uplifting story.

Title quote from page 169

Walker, Alice. The Color Purple. Washington Square Press Publications, 1982.