The Color Purple is Alice Walker’s most famous novel and is rightly so because of the powerful story of individual and societal struggles it tells through the experiences of great characters.
In my opinion, the best thing about The Color Purple is its story. While the story will likely interest everyone who reads the book, it will especially appeal to black people and people of other races who sympathize with the racial struggles of black people. It begins with the story of a girl called Celie who is deprived of education, comfort, and the simple pleasures of childhood by a cruel and predatory father, Alphonso, who rapes her.
While we process the cruelty of her abusive father, as the novel progresses, we see that it was the society that left Celie vulnerable to the cruelty of the predator who is meant to be her father. We see later in the novel that Alphonso is indeed not Celie’s father but her stepfather. Celie’s biological father was lynched by white competitors in his neighborhood who could not contain their outrage that a black man was prospering more than them in business, and the shock of the incident made Celie’s mother lose her mind. This cruelty by the society left Celie’s family vulnerable to more cruelty from evil people like Alphonso.
Another feature that makes The Color Purple a great read are the characters. It is absolutely impossible not to feel something for the characters, the various characters evoke a spectrum of emotions from pity for Celie, love for Nettie, empathy for Sofia, admiration for Shug Avery, hatred for Alphonso, and a host of other emotions.
And the development of the characters is realistic in their consistency or their changes. For instance, the character Albert is a villain who rapes, beats, and emotionally abuses his wife but later transforms into a repentant man who tries to make amends for his wrongs. His character transformation is realistic as he undergoes moments upon moments of trauma and then introspection before his transformation as a character.
The Color Purple is an epistolary novel. It is interesting how Alice Walker uses just letter writing to develop her characters and effectively depict events in a way that readers would experience it all as they read. Epistolary storytelling is a style that requires creative genius and Alice Walker leaves no doubt about her ingenuity in this novel.
The language of The Color Purple is, unfortunately, one of the things that detract from the quality of the novel, in my opinion. While it is good to make the characters sound as realistic as possible, the excessive use of vernacular sometimes made it difficult for me to decipher some conversations. Lots of words were spelled so ridiculously that they became confusing.
Then the novel contains explicit violent and sexual language that might not be appropriate for readers who are not adults.
The Setting is one great point that recommends the novel. Reading The Color Purple almost feels like traveling the world. Alice Walker takes readers from Georgia, USA, to England, to Senegal, Monrovia, and many other locations across the world and promptly details even the voyages.
Who is Alphonso in The Color Purple?
Alphonso is the abusive father of the protagonist Celie and her sister Nettie. He repeatedly raped Celie as early as the age of twelve, got her pregnant twice, and snatched her babies from her after birth. He is one of the villains of the novel The Color Purple.
Celie and Nettie later discover that Alphonso is not their real father but their stepfather, who married their mother after their father was lynched.
What happened to Celie’s sister?
Celie’s sister, Nettie, ran away from home to Celie when her stepfather tried to rape her. Then she also ran away from Celie’s home when Celie’s husband tried to rape too.
Nettie was later taken in by a Reverend and his wife, whose names were Samuel and Corrine, and they all traveled together on mission work in Africa.
After the death of Corrine, Reverend Samuel’s wife, Nettie, and Reverend Samuel get married.
Who is Celie’s real father?
Celie’s real father is a black merchant who prospered by venturing into a dry goods business and owning a blacksmith shop. However, he was killed by some white competitors who were envious of his prosperity in business.
What does Celie name her sewing business?
Celie names her sewing business “Folkspants Unlimited.” She began sewing pants as a way of distracting her mind from a murderous instinct to kill Albert after years of abuse. Later, she realized that the people around her loved her pants for being beautiful and comfortable too. Then she began to design and sew pants as a business.
The Color Purple Review: A Well-Told Powerful Story by Alice Walker
Lasting Effect on a Reader
The Color Purple Review
The Color Purple by Alice Walker is a delightful read despite having a heartbreaking plot. Alice Walker depicted the struggles of people, especially women, who are placed at a disadvantage in life by society and by their circumstances. We see Celie who faces rape, domestic violence, and abuse from her father and later from her husband; Nettie who faces another dimension of subjugation of the female gender as works as a missionary in Africa; Sophia who suffered cruelty and injustice at the hands of the mayor and his family; and many other characters whose lives teach, chastise and inspire. The low points of the novel are the language which depicts things by the characters in confusing vernacular, and some issues with chronology–the passage of time is quite unclear for instance, beyond the first page there is hardly any definite indication that the character Celie is a teenager or a middle-aged woman as she narrates events in the novel.
- Powerful Story
- Great Characters
- Delightful Settings
- Inspiring Themes
- Violence and Abuse
- Explicit Content
- Vernacular language that may be difficult to understand
- Unclear Chronology