Alice Walker – The Color Purple {Weekly Geeks Q&A}


Last week’s Weekly Geeks encouraged us to ask the blog readers to ask questions about books we’re reading/books we’ve read, and not yet completed. I’m running extremely late, but, I am finally getting down to doing this. I was asked the below questions:

From Becky:

The Color Purple. Did you enjoy it? Would you recommend it? Is it easy to read or more intimidating? Have you seen the movie? If you have, which did you prefer the book or the movie? Did you have a favorite character? How about a favorite quote? Will you be seeking out any other Alice Walker books?

Yes, I did enjoy the book, and I think it’s definitely worth a read. It provides the reader with an insight into life in the South in those times: oppressed women, abusive men, judgmental society. The story is told through the eyes of Celie, a girl of 14 (when the book begins), who has suffered a fair bit; being raped by the man she calls ‘father’, being forced to marry a man significantly older than herself who is in love with a famous blues singer (Shug Avery), and being separated from her sister, Nettie. It’s the exploration of these subjects that make the book a little difficult to read, as you can’t help but feel your heart go out to poor Celie, who writes her story to ‘God’, as she has been told never to tell about her abuse to another person.

My favorite character, trite as it may sound, was Shug: a blues singer, who’s condemned by society, for her lavish ways; a strumpet in short skirts, smoking cigarettes, drinking gin. Singing for money, and taking other women mens. Talk about slut, hussy, heifer, streetcleaner. However, Shug doesn’t let all this bog her down, but instead, aspires to enjoy life, unlike most of the other women of the time. She’s also compassionate, friendly, and becomes a savior of sorts to Celie.

As for a favorite quote… while there are a couple which highlight Shug’s attitude, I think this one will give you an insight into Celie’s head, as she writes her story:

Dear God,

He act like he can’t stand me no more. Say I’m evil an always up to no good. He took my other little baby, a boy this time. But I don’t think he kilt it. I think he sold it to a man an his wife over Monticello. I got breasts full of milk running down myself. He say Why don’t you look decent? Put on something. But what I’m sposed to put on? I don’t have nothing.

I keep hoping he fine somebody to marry. I see him looking at my little sister. She scared. But I say I’ll take care of you. With God help.

Unfortunately, I haven’t seen the movie – in fact, I didn’t even know there was a movie, so…

Regarding seeking out more of Alice Walker – yes, I probably will. Her other books seem to have good reviews as well, but I guess I just haven’t gotten around to doing so yet!

From Louise:

I tried reading The Color Purple a few months ago, but could not find head nor tail in it. I only read a couple of pages. Should I have kept it and continued (as in “it will all become clear a few more pages into the book)?

I think so. It’s one of those books, where the narrative just drifts into the story, and then, you easily get yourself lost into it, sympathizing with Celie, and hoping she finds happiness eventually.

From Dreamybee:

I have same questions about The Color Purple as some of the other commenters. I’ve only ever seen the movie but I thought it was great, and it’s a movie that stands up over time. It was just as good a couple years ago as it was when it came out in 1985. Have you seen the movie and how does it compare to the book? If not, does the book stand up over time?

I haven’t seen the movie, so, I can’t really comment on the movie-book comparison. The book does stand up over time. It’s a ‘historical’ book, in a manner of speaking – talking about a time, place and society which has existed in the ‘past’. As one of the comments on the back says:

The Color Purple is a work to stand beside literature for any time and any place. It needs no category other than the fact that it’s superb. {Rita Mae Brown}

From Eva:

Did you find The Color Purple difficult to read? I’m not super-good with books written in dialect, so I’m a little afraid of it. But I enjoyed Their Eyes Were Watching God earlier this year; if you’ve read that one, how do they compare?

Haven’t read Their Eyes Were Watching God, so can’t really comment. However, I do think the ‘dialect’ is what made this book more ‘real’ than anything else. It can get occasionally awkward to read, and you may have to re-read a line or two over again, to ensure you haven’t misinterpreted anything. By your comment, you recommend Their Eyes Were Watching, so I’ll definitely try and check it out.

From Jodie:

Which characters did you like the most in The Colour Purple? How did you feel about Mr by the end of the book?

I’ve answered the first part above, in detail.

As for Mr. -, it’s a tough question. I hated him for most of the book, simply because he came across as a selfish chauvinistic sadistic abusive man, and I couldn’t possibly have a lower opinion of people like that! I guess, putting it in context, many men at that time (and place) were similar, although I wouldn’t say that makes it alright. However, I think, by the end of the book, he did try and redeem himself, which helps some… just not enough. Again, I find it very difficult to forgive such things, so… it might just be me!

So, my questions:

Is there any character you held in utmost contempt? and, What do you think the most defining quality of Shug was? And, the stereotype: did you enjoy the book?

4 Responses to “Alice Walker – The Color Purple {Weekly Geeks Q&A}”

  1. 1 mee

    I read the book and watched the movie. I think they are comparably good. Here’s my review of the Color Purple the book and Color Purple the movie — starred Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah (don’t you just want to watch it with them in it? :).

    • 2 uncertainprinciples

      I thought your review was accurate, and very well-written. Makes me think I really need to link to other reviews, when I post mine.

      As for Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah – did not know that, but suddenly, I do want to watch it :) (makes mental note to rent it soon).

  2. I read this a long time ago, so can’t remember much about the book, but I loved watching Oprah in the film! It is so weird seeing her acting instead of interviewing! You should go and rent it as soon as you can as it is really good!

    • 4 uncertainprinciples

      I can imagine. Am a big fan of hers (and Whoopi, for that matter)! Am definitely going to try getting my hands on the DVD soon.

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