Alice Walker‘s world acclaimed novel The Color Purple was published in 1982, it went onto win the Pulitzer Award in 1983. The novel takes place in rural Georgia, the story focuses on the life of women of color in the 1930s. It addressed numerous issues including their low position in American social culture. The novel has some explicit content, particularly in terms of violence. The book has been targeted by censorship because of its explicit content.
But let me come back to why this book is one of my top ten favorite of all time. I stumbled upon this book thanks to my friend, her sister had a heavenly collection of fiction, and I borrowed from her. This book was recommended to me and after reading it, I was left moved. The novel is about the intense connection that is created between the women in the story.
The Color Purple was not an easy book to read, it is not written like most novels. The novel consists of a series of letters, none of which are dated, and in order to have a time frame for the novel. But the Walker leaves clues for the reader and if we read carefully we can figure out the timeline for the story. Roughly, the novel has a time span of about forty years. The other difficulty in reading this novel is the language Walker uses. Some of the letters are not written in standard English, it has a dialect which is closer to folk language. It is awkward to read it initially.
The novel is as I said, about relationships among these strong women, five of them actually, and they have a lot of courage. They refuse to be beaten into submission. The story is really about those two things, Courage and Strength and how Love sustains the women through trying times. The connection established between the reader and the protagonist is based on understanding suffering and the need for compassion.
As a side note to this I had watched a student production of The Color Purple adapted into play when I was in college and honestly too horrified by it. It had hurt my senses. But reading the book at a later age it was a revelation, because the book required more compassion and understanding which I didn’t have at the earlier age.
I always wanted to understand why this book was named the way it was, and why the color purple is significant. Logic dictates it should be Black but it is not. I think the reason it’s the color purple and not any other is because in nature the color purple is rarer than the colors and we see it we do stop and look at in awe and wonder. Perhaps just like the color purple in nature, we may want to also look at out life, and take a minute to enjoy the rare moments of wonder, joy, happiness. May be in the bigger scheme of things the rare moments are like signs from a higher power to remind us that we are loved.
Sources: Wikipedia, Google ( Image), Sparknotes