The Color Purple Readalong – Wrap Up Post

The Color Purple, by Alice Walker

Winner of the American Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, this unforgettable portrait of a young black girl, her friends, family, and lovers is rich with passion, pain, inspiration, and an indomitable love of life. – Goodreads

The Color Purple, by Alice Walker

The month of July is coming to  a close and with it comes the end of our reading of The Color Purple.  How did you make out?

Heather from Age 30+…A Lifetime of Books contributed a post of great discussion questions mid-month.  I also posted the  trailer that they used for the movie.  I found it poking around online. Check out Heather’s follow up review post where she answers a few questions.  I chose a few that she didn’t get to, to answer here.

Please be aware that if you haven’t read the book, the answers below will include spoilers.

What was your perception of this book coming into the read-a-long? Had you read it before? Seen the movie? Always meant to read/watch it? Did your initial perception influence your read-a-long experience?

I had never read The Color Purple before, though I have thought about reading it for many years.  I had never heard anything less than wonderful about this book and it seemed like one of those books that I “should” have read.  I had never seen the movie, so I didn’t have that to influence me.  I thought that I remembered there had been controversy that had surrounded the book when it first came out, but when I looked it up I saw that the original publication date was 1982.  I was way too young to have remembered that.  Odd.

For new readers: Was the book what you expected it to be? What DID you expect?

I didn’t have that many expectations other than it being an amazing novel, which is tough to live up to, and it being a sad novel.  There is definitely a lot that goes on that is heartbreaking.  Celie is a wonderful character and I was so touched by her innocent acceptance of her sexual abuse and traumatic marriage, how she gradually gained knowledge and transformed her circumstances. Through Celie’s and Nettie’s letters the novel bears witness to hope, compassion, heartbreak, and unconditional love.  The book was a lot more uplifting than I ever imagined it would be. Celie’s conditions were particularly grim, and I hated the way she always thought she was ugly and not worthwhile, but her change was so absorbing.  I really appreciated how she was able to grow by continually making the best of her situation and learning where she could.

Do Celie’s letters to God and her letters to Nettie have a different feel to them or do they seem the same? What do you think of Celie’s habit of ending her letters to Nettie with “Amen”?

Celie started writing to Nettie at a time when she was going through profound change and that she had broken with her tradition and her God was an amazing change.  I saw the “amen” at the end of her letters as an affirmation of the new life that she is beginning to beuild for herself when she slowlsy starts to come out of her shell and put some distance in her marriage to her husband.  I think that a lot more goes into the change from writing to God to writing to Nettie.  Celie is beginning to take more personal responsibility for her life.  I would love to do a re-read at some point to get more out of that transformation.  A lot is there.

Is the story believable to you? Why or why not? Does believability matter to you in a “real-life” type book?

This novel is definitely believable to me. It was beautifully told and it accurately portrayed how limited the lives of the characters were, yet the seeds of how they were characterized played a role in the outcomes of their lives and relationships.  We often think that we have to leave difficult circumstances in order to overcome them, but Celie and a lot of the people by whom she is surrounded are not only poor but poorly educated and with partners whom it is not possible for them to leave.  They didn’t have vacations, or high powered jobs to distract them from life’s problems, nor did they have friends beyond the little circle already in their lives.  I was inspired by the characters growth and accomplishments in spite of not having access to much relief from their situations.

So what did you think?  I definitely think that this a great book to read and ponder.  I have loved thinking about it this month.  Feel free to leave your final thoughts and comments about The Color Purple in the comments sections, and don’t forget to link up to any reviews or discussion posts you have written, old or new.  Heather and I are looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

1DA652C2516038AE4D02F55645591F39 Shutter Island, by Dennis Lehane

Whether this was your first time reading this novel, or if you are revisiting it I’d like to thank you for joining Heather and me!

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  1. I didn’t participate in this readalong, but The Color Purple is one of my all-time favorite books. It’s amazing to me how Alice Walker manages to include so many issues in it without its feeling forced, or becoming unbearably sad. For all that Celie has an incredibly difficult life, the book always seems suffused with joy to me (and the end always makes me cry.)

    1. You are so right about this. There was a part of me that was reading the book and was so enraptured and enthralled with the story, and the other part was going wow she is really packing it in here and somehow it feel really natural. I cried a few tie while reading the book. Some of t is just so beautiful and so inspirational. I am in awe.

  2. I am coming in just under the wire here. Thank you to you and Heather for getting me to finally quit procrastinating and read this book. I for one, am better for having experienced this amazing read.

  3. The biggest thing I took away from this book is how much it ISN’T depressing. I was expecting it to be a difficult and sad read, yet it was anything but that. The writing is beautiful and the story is uplifting, both in spite of the horrible circumstances. I’m so glad that I finally read it!

    1. Yes! It was so odd because Celie had a horrible life and that could have crippled her, and for many years, it it did. I was so inspired by the kittle changes that kept growing into her wanting more and getting better with each step. Thanks so much for bringing me in on this one!

  4. I was expecting a depressing book, but I was so surprised by how uplifting it was. I was most affected by Sofia, and how such a strong-willed woman became so bent in spirit. That really made me sad. But I was glad that Celie found her strength over time. I watched the movie last night, and I really loved it too. Usually I’m very cynical about movies based on books, but this was one I could love.

    1. By the end I really did feel for Sofia too. It took a lot to bring her down and I loved her spirit. I loved the way that she didn’t let Celie off the hook when she learned that she had told her husband to beat her. They had such an important exchange there. I loved that she just didn’t let it go that she knew what she knew.

  5. I had no preconceptions coming to this book, as I had to study it for a course and didn’t really know anything about it before. But it was a great find. I loved this book – I don’t think it’s particularly ‘realist’ but I think it’s got something to teach us all about life. Although the African section didn’t really do it for me… ‘ g