Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

This is another one of those classics that I never managed to read. I've never seen the movie either, so I wasn't really sure what to expect. It took me awhile to get into the story; it moved very slowly at first, and I had a hard time enjoying it. Celie's life is just terrible, but because she doesn't know anything else, she deals with it the best she can. For the first half of the book, all we read are her letters to God, in which she describes the sadness and violence of her life. It was really depressing.
The story really gets going once she begins to stand up to her husband, with the help of his former (and sometimes current) lover Shug. Then she reads the first letter from her sister Nettie, whom she thought she had lost. Her husband had been hiding the letters from her for years, but she and Shug find them and read them all together. Nettie has been living with a missionary family in Africa, taking care of Celie's children, who were adopted by this missionary family when they were infants. Time flies by in their letters to each other, with decades going by before they ever see each other again.
I enjoyed this book once I got past the first third or so. At first I just couldn't believe how depressing it was, and I kept trying to imagine what the movie must be like. It still is amazing to me how violently the women were treated. But there are examples of strong women in the book, women who refuse to be pushed around, and fight back even when they are being beaten. It is from these women that Celie gains strength. The idea of God in the book is also fascinating. I've decided that I hate what Hollywood does to movies made from books (for the most part), but this movie is supposed to be very good, so maybe I'll take a look at that next.

1 comment:

Charley said...

I feel that I should read this book, but it's one I've never been enthusiastic to pick up for the reasons you mention - the sadness and violence of the subject. It seems like a book you would really have to be in the proper frame of mind to read.