233 of 242 people found the following review helpful
on May 2, 2000
"The Color Purple" is one of the strongest statements of how love transforms and cruelty disfigures the human spirit that this reviewer has ever read. Alice Walker gives us Celie, 14 years old when the book opens, who has been raped, abused, degraded and twice impregnated by her father. After he takes her children away from her without a so much as a word, he marries her off like a piece of chattel to her husband, who is so cold, distant and inhuman to her that she can only refer to him as Mr; and this person deprives her of her sister Nettie, the only one who ever loved her.
Celie manages to survive by living one day at a time. Her life is a series of flat, lifeless panoramas painted in browns and grays. Into this existence, if you can call it that, comes Shug Avery, her husband's mistress, who shows Celie her own specialness and uniqueness. A lot has been made about lesbianism in this book and all of it is beside the point. Celie isn't a lesbian, she is a human being in need of love and Shug Avery helps Celie realize that she is somebody worth loving and caring about. When Celie hurls her defiance into Mr's face -- "I'm poor, I'm black, I may be ugly... but I'm here", she is making an affirmation not only to him, but to the whole world; the reader can only say, along with Shug Avery, "Amen".
When Celie finds the strength to leave Mr, he is left to face the reality of himself and what he sees isn't pretty; his transformation humanizes him and allows Celie to call him Albert, recognizing him as a person, as he finally recognizes her as one. The last chapter makes many readers go through half a box of Kleenex (Stephen Spielberg once said in an interview that he "cried and cried at the end" of the book), but Walker doesn't play cheap with the reader's emotions; she has a powerful story to tell and she tells it with such consummate skill and sensitivity that she brings us into it and makes it ours. This is a book to be treasured and read over and over again.
45 of 48 people found the following review helpful
on January 12, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"The Color Pruple" provides a disturbing yet realistic account into the life of Celie, a young black woman with a tragic, abusive past who learns how to survive, how to let go of the past, and most of all how to love. I thought the medium with which Walker chose to write her book was perfect, the diary form of the novel establishes a immediate, intimate connection to the reader right from the start. Walker draws you in from the beginning, starting her book with a fairly graphic, explicit account of the physical abuse Celie's father subjected her to. I find Celie one of the most inspirational characters I have ever read about, she makes you believe that even in the darkest moments one can find hope, because for most women, life cannot get worse than Celie's.
The language used throughout the book emphasizes Celie's lack of educationa and the naivety of a young girl, being black and living in a world where men dominate every aspect of life Celie has only learned how to be submissive, suppresing all her own hopes and dreams. Enter Shug Avery and Sofia, and we start to see the insiprational woman Celie is inside--Shug represents the independent woman that Cleie longs to be but cannot find the courage to become. Through Shug's love and encouragment Celie learns to stand up for herself. She emerges powerful, strong and intelligent.
When I first started to read this book I felt I couldn't get past the first few letters. The violence that Celie encounters is unbearable to read, and sometimes I felt uncomfortable with many of the passages describing the graphic sexual abuse/actions and violence. However as I read on I realized the heart of the story overshadowed many of the disturbing scenes. This story is about self-discovery and the coming of age of a young owman long suppressed by the society she lives in. The sexual content is only there to try to express the freedom Celie was feeling, the self-discoveries she was making, the pain she was enduring--they weren't there to merely try to shock or discuss the reader.
I love the character Celie, her strength is remarkable. Alice Walker shows us the transformation of a great woman--what she was, what she is capable of, and what she has finally become. It's an extraordinary novel, and I would reccomend it to anyone looking for inspiration or strong female role models.
67 of 74 people found the following review helpful
on May 17, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"I maybe black, I may be poor, I maybe a woman, and I may even be ugly! But thank God I'm here"
I have recently finished reading The Color Purple, by Alice Walker. This book had the most emotional impact on me, more then any other book I have ever read. It gives the reader a vivid and terrifying description of the life of a black woman growing up in the early twenty century. I read this book for my eighth grade English class. Everyone was assigned to read an independent reading book that relates and associates with the timeless classic, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Even though the main character in each book was placed in completely different situations, the same issues applied to both. There were both victims of sexism. Both their lives were dominated by men and Celie, in The Color Purple, was abused by them physically and mentally because they wanted to keep her in line and control her to a certain extent that doesn't allow her to think for herself. Scout, in To Kill a Mockingbird, had constant pressure upon her to be the lady society had shaped woman to be. The Color Purple opened up to an experience that many woman faced but was chosen to be ignored by the public. It expressed the harshness of reality and the pain inflicted amongst many woman of a different race during this period of time.
The Color Purple takes place in the south and spans thirty years in the life of Celie, a poor southern black woman. Alice Walker portrays the life of an innocent girl who is put through rape, physical abuse, teenage marriage, child birth and emotional abuse. Celie started out as a slave to her own family. Her mother is killed, and Celie and her siblings are raised by their father.
Celie goes through the transition of a slave to an individual. Celie is an extremely strong character that overcomes the many years of abuse that was put upon her. The book was conveyed in a style that is unique in its own sense and the use of the Southern English makes the book especially realistic and more like an actual journal. I have felt that it is the most powerful portrayal of a woman and her struggle to survive. This character shows the reader that she is a survivor and your future can't be determined from your past.
30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Alice Walker's novel "The Color Purple" has had an interesting "life," as far as books go. It's been the subject of controversy over her portrayal of black men and her use of black vernacular language; it's been adapted by director Steven Spielberg into a motion picture that's inspired its own controversy; it's had a whole other life as a text used in college courses. But, so many years after its original publication, and after all of the accolades and debates, "The Color Purple" still holds its own as a compelling piece of fiction.
"The Color Purple" is written in the form of letters. It opens with a letter to God from Celie, a rural African-American girl who, as she reveals on the first page, is a victim of sexual abuse. As Celie grows into womanhood, Walker paints a fascinating portrait of the community of people who make up Celie's world.
"The Color Purple" is, ultimately, about liberation and redemption. Those who believe that this book attacks black men are wrong. This book attacks violence and abuse, and celebrates those--whether victim or victimizer--who are able to break the cycle of abuse and truly grow as human beings. This novel is bold in its exploration of sexuality--in particular, lesbian sexuality--as a potentially liberating force. And Walker also explores the possibility of an alternative spirituality and alternative family structures to heal those who have been damaged by the racist, sexist paradigms of United States society.
"The Color Purple" is also about the power of writing. In her long career, Alice Walker has distinguished herself as a writer of poetry, essays, short fiction, and novels. "The Color Purple" is among the best of her many fine literary achievements, and this novel continues to have a vibrant life of its own.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on December 8, 1999
Alice Walker's, The Color Purple is a fascinating book of the struggle of black women, who were not only oppressed by white society but also oppressed by black males as well. In the beginning, readers find the main character, Celie, a virtual slave in her own family. Being raped at a young age by her father and losing her children which were sold to a family by the man who raped her. Celie, in the hopes of finding a better life through marriage, finds herself in a similar situation with her new husband. Celie finally breaks out of this bondage with the help of friends and with the found letters from her sister Nettie that Celie's husband had suppressed. Celie regains her self esteem and throws away the chains of her bondage, going on to become a succesful woman and reuniting with her long lost children. This book captures the spirit of a struggling women who demonstrates no matter how desperate the situation seems, she can make it through. An uplifting book that demonstrates how cruel mankind can be and how strong the human spirit is.
25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on February 1, 2001
Written by Alice Walker and published in 1982, The Color Purple is tremendously under rated. Although it won a Pulitzer Prize and the American Book Award for fiction, it didn't go well with the male population because they said it was a "makes men look bad" kind of book. I personally think that men didn't want to believe they could be so cruel. The Color Purple is about a puzzled young girl named Celie who grows within from her many wonderful and many not-so-wonderful experiences to have the courage to ask for more, and to fight for true happiness. The book is written in the form of letters to God and to Celie's sister, one of the gracious people who gave her hope and saved Celie from a life of grief. Throughout the story Celie learns how to read, learns how to fight back, and learns how to love. The thing I liked most about The Color Purple is it's captivating form- the letters. It makes the pages go by quickly, like you are reading a diary or a journal of someone important. Because you are seeing things from her perspective, it genuinely makes you feel her pain and see the hell she is going through. When she is abused, you want to sob with her, and when she is victorious a smile runs from ear to ear. The big things that kind of take away from the book, though, are the letters from Nettie. The Color Purple is going strong until Nettie's letters intrude with stories of Africa and Celie's long lost children. The letters were very repetitive, and not to mention never ending! I've barely heard or seen of her sister or kids and all of a sudden they cut in while the book is approaching its climax. I want to know what Celie is going to do about her wicked husband, her relative in jail, and the best friend she has ever known that is trying to leave. I don't care about anything else right now. Although I could've lived without them, the precious letters of Nettie contributed to the book by letting Celie know that her only blood family was still alive, and that they would be coming home to her shortly. From reading this book, I learned that you truly are what you believe you are, and you only accomplish what you believe you can. In the beginning, Celie thought she was nothing because everyone who knew her, excluding Nettie, told her that. As the book goes on, Celie gets more confidence within from the people surrounding her and makes her way to the top. Instead of lying there, when Celie gets knocked down, she gets right back up again and keeps on climbing. By the end of the story, she is everything she ever dreamed of. Celie is a working lady with her own pants shop, she is a mother with her two returned children, and she is a role model for women who were once like her. I think this is exactly what Walker hoped for in writing this. The Color Purple is a good read for inspiration, but its audience should be a mature one. The book's print has adult language and explicit sexual content. I recommend The Color Purple to anyone above the age of thirteen, who wants to read an original, remarkably outstanding novel.
44 of 53 people found the following review helpful
on April 6, 2000
The Color Purple is a wonderful story about a young black woman named Celie, who, despite all her losses amd traumas, still learns how to love. Ironically the person who shows her love is Celie's husbands lover, Shug Avery. The only other person Celie loves is her sister Nettie, who is far away in Africa doing missionary work. They keep in touch through letters. Another struggle Celie comes across is a doubt in God. But through Shug, Celie finds out who her true maker is. I really enjoyed this novel. I was consumed by the plot and engulfed by the characters. Alice Walker truly gave the novel a feeling of reality with her descriptions and the dialect. She also adds some humor to the novel so it is not just happy and sad. I recommend this novel to people 16 and over. There is some foul language and many references to sex, homosexuality, and rape. However, these are the elements that give the novel the impact it has on the reader. Overall, this book is extraordinary and everyone should make time to read it.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on December 17, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
As a girl, Celie, struggles through life while she slowly matures into a woman, she discovers the irony and hatred associated with life. This woman's life--her personal journal--forms the incredibly well written story, The Color Purple. However, this story's meaningful content comes with a price: graphic sexual content and inappropriate language. Putting this aspect aside, The Color Purple's interesting plot twist kept me hooked throughout the story; I wanted to keep reading, and read I did, until I felt too tired to keep my eyes open.
The Color Purple informs readers of the harsh lives of African American women who lived in the early 1900's. Terrible examples of the discrimination they received permeate this story, but they help to convey the author's message: no matter what happens, if you have hope, you will get through the tough times. Celie, the protagonist in this book, sets an example for everyone in the world today. Her husband constantly abuses her--mentally, physically, and sexually--yet she never gives up hope, never stops dreaming of a better life, and in the end she learns how to live, learn, and love.
After I finished reading this story, I began to appreciate many of the possessions I once took for granted; I finally realized the cold hard reality of pain in this world, and even though I may think I can't live through another day, compared to many other people, my problems are non-existent.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on May 7, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
_The Color Purple_ by Alice Walker provides an outstanding story of a woman's journey through an unbearable life which teaches women to understand how to achieve true happiness. The main character, Celie, journys through many different, but abusive, relationships to find herself and her own happiness. However, until she finds her own strength as a woman, she allows herself to be both physically and mentally beaten down. Examples of both independent and needy women and men help Celie on her hard journey of realization. I enjoyed this look into the journey to become a strong individual. I have never read a book as realistic as _The Color Purple_ in describing the survival of one who could have so easily given up. Celie's final state of mind portays an almost idealistic example of being happy with oneself. I would definetaly recomend this book to anyone, unless they do not wish to read about some disturbing abusive and sexual situations. The treatment of women and thier place in society were the only things that made me feel uneasy while I was reading. If you like this book then you should try reading Zora Neale Hurston's _Thier Eyes Were Watching God_.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on September 21, 2001
Format: Mass Market PaperbackVerified Purchase
This was one of those books that I felt like I was supposed to read, but which I really didn't want to. It seemed like it was something that wasn't my choice.
So when I ordered it, it ended up sitting on the shelf for a very long time. When I finally got to it, I was blown away.
I'd liked the movie very much, but I wasn't prepared for the power of the book. It was just striking.
Intelligent people are used to existing in a realm where facility with the language gives them access to streams of thought which are cut off to those with their skill. Although I deeply appreciate an intelligently written book which is incredible, I respect even more a book that doesn't rely on advanced language.
This book was written in character, by someone who was not very educated, and yet it was a powerhouse.
The style of the writing, in letter form, was also unique.
The characters are wonderfully developed.
The plot is very real.
The insights into the life this women lived, was heartbreaking, and invigorating.
There's something for everyone in this book to like, whether they are black or white.
The human spirit isn't a color.