rinalia (rinalia) wrote,

Book Challenge - The Color Purple

Title: The Color Purple
Author: Alice Walker
Challenge reason: Lesbianism. Male-female dynamics. Race relations. Actually banned in Souderton, Pennsylvania Area School District in 1992 because it was considered "smut". 

Smutty recipient of the 1983 Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award. Also a musical, God only knows how (or why).

Summary: Story of two sisters separated by land, time and luck. One, Celie, is married off to a man she doesn't love by her raping-father (and father of her own two children who she is forced to give away) but who finds love with another woman and, eventually, with herself.. The other, Nettie, escapes, joining a missionary and his wife on a voyage to Africa who finds spiritual enrichment, truth and love as well.. The story is told in letters - to God, to Nettie, to Celie. I can't adequately describe this book - it's about love, God, loss, betrayal & trust, hope, sorrow and the human spirit. I love books like that.

I heart this book, tidy ending be damned! (I love tidy, safe, happy, enriching endings).


Men beating women is considered normal, appropriate even. But one of the characters, Sofia, doesn't take no flak from no man and keeps beating the crap out of her husband (he started it!). ;)

She say, All my life I had to fight. I had to fight my daddy. I had to fight my brothers. I had to fight my cousins and my uncles. A girl child ain't safe in a family of men. But I never thought I'd have to fight my own house. She let out her breath. I loves Harpo, she say. God knows I do. but I'll kill him dead before I let him beat me. Now if you want a dead son-in-law you just keep on advising him lik you doing.

Sofia doesn't take crap from the mayor and his wife...a black woman punching a white man doesn't end well for the black woman. She's sentenced to twelve years in prison and eleven of those she spends as a maid for the mayor and his family. No visits allowed to her children. During that time, the mayor buys his wife a car but doesn't let her drive it. Sofia teaches the mayor's wife to drive. The woman offers Sofia a day to visit children she hasn't seen in five years, and off they go. Except the wife gets in trouble when she tries to reverse the a car she's only driven one way in, forward. Sofia spends the whole day trying to get the wife's car fixed.

So it end up with me and Jack driving her back home in the pick-up, then Jack driving me to town to git a mechanic, and at five o'clock I was driving Miz Millie's car back to her house.

I spent fifteen minutes with my children.
And she been going on for months bout how ungrateful I is.
White folks is a miracle of affliction, say Sofia.

On God

You telling me God love you, and you ain't never done nothing for him? I mean, not go to church, sing in the choir, feed the preacher and all like that?

But if God love me, Celie, I don't have to do all that. Unless I want to. There's a lot of other things I can do that I speck God likes.

Like what? I ast.

Oh, she say. I can lay back and just admire stuff. Be happy. Have a good time.

Well, this sound like blasphemy sure nuff.

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 to find God.


Yeah, It. God ain't a he or a she, but a It.

But what do it look like? I ast.

Don't look like nothing, she say. It ain't a picture show. It ain't something you can look at apart from anything else, including yourself. I believe God is everything, say Shug. Everything that is or ever was or ever will be. And when you can feel that, and be happy to feel that, you've found It.

On Africans selling their own people into slavery (Nettie & Samuel are two missionaries in Africa)

The Africans don't even see us. They don't even recognize us as the brothers and sisters they sold.

That's the heart of it, don't you see. We love them. We try every way we can to show that love. But they reject us. They never even listen to how we've suffered. And if they listen they say stupid things. Why don't you speak our language? they ask. Why can't you remember the old ways? Why aren't you happy in America, if everyone there drives motorcars?

On love:

I think us here to wonder, myself. To wonder. To ast. And that in wondering bout the big things and astking bout the big things, you learn about the little ones, almost by accident. But you never know nothing more about the big things than you start out with. The more I wonder, he say, the more I love.

And people start to love you back, I bet, I say.

So far in this challenge, my heart aches thinking these are books people want banned. The power of words to move, to anger, to fill with joy and sorrow needs to be treasured.

And I've only read two books so far! I'm screwed.
Tags: 2008 book list, quotes
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