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The Color Purple ()

Pulitzer Prize (Fiction) (1983)

I liked this 1983 Pulitzer Prize & American Book Award winner an awful lot more than I thought I would. It is quite possibly the greatest piece of black lesbian fiction I have ever read, or ever will read. & there's the rub... There's something weirdly comforting to a straight white male in this portrait of black lesbian women.

First, there are virtually no white's in the book. So it's possible to view all of the characters problems as purely black people problems. White's can't be guilty for the conditions the characters live in, since whites are nonexistent in the book.

Second, Celie is sort of forced into lesbianism by the beastly behavior of the men in her life. Shug is the only person who's ever been decent to her (other than her sister). Again this is a concept that a male can feel comfortable with; lesbians haven't consciously turned away from men, they are just overwhelmed by them. There's a certain docility that's central to this thesis which confirms 50, 000 years of chauvinism. (On the other side of the coin, homosexuality is repellent because it reflects male surrender to women & subjugation by other men.)

So, I like the book, but I'm pretty sure I don't like it for the right reasons, more for the "Right" reasons.


Grade: (B+)


Alice Walker Links:
-REVIEW: of In Search of the Color Purple: The Story of an American Masterpiece by Salamishah Tillet (Jennifer Wilson, New Republic)

Book-related and General Links:
    -Anniinna's Alice Walker Page
    -REVIEW: Robert Towers: Good Men Are Hard to Find, NY Review of Books
                          The Terrible Twos by Ishmael Reed
                          The Color Purple by Alice Walker
    -REVIEW: Darryl Pinckney: Black Victims, Black Villains, NY Review of Books
                          The Color Purple by Alice Walker
                          The Color Purple a film by Steven Spielberg
                          Reckless Eyeballing by Ishmael Reed
    -ESSAY: The Color Purple and the State of Literary Criticism  (Rick Clewett)


It sounds like if you read the book with your eyes closed what you say doesn't make since; and yes you have the slightest general idea about what the novel is about but I think you need to go read the book again.

- lissy

- Jun-14-2006, 18:59


I disagree with Joe. He says there aren't any white people in the book. Actually there is. Sophia was a prisoner and then became a maid because of a white women's superiority attitude. She no longer knew her children. How can you say that every problem that the chracters had were based soley on themselves and not one white person had anything to do with it? I'm not saying that white people were responsible for their problems, but I am saying that Sophia's problems were caused by a white woman. If you don't think so, then you need to read the book again.

- Sakiyna Muhammad

- Jul-03-2005, 13:16


I don't see why he would write in this review anything about lesbianism, although I kind of see your point

- Sakiyna Muhammad

- May-28-2005, 15:19


I'm totally in agreement with Joe. The prescence of whites is a huge theme in the book because it does cause so many problems for them. For example, the Olinka's are treated badly at the hands of white people. They do try their hardest to oppress them.

To say they are non-existent in the book is complete rubbish too. There is the mayor's wife, her son, and most importantly the mayor's daughter!

And on your second point I think you are wrong. I feel that Celie wasn't forced into lesbianism. ANd you can't generalise to all lesbians. You are talking slight rubbish there. I should know. AND there are other women who have been kind to her as Joe says.

I'm not sure you have understood the book.

- Kelly

- Mar-27-2005, 12:53


I agreee with your review of the Color Purple

- Jade

- Mar-08-2005, 19:22


To say that whites are completely void of all responsibility for the blacks' conditions is a complete falsity. Have you completely forgotten Sofia's plight, and how she was separated from her family, imprisoned, and spiritually torn for quite some time because of the white mayor and his wife? And even if you were right about the conflicts of the novel being due to solely black problems, why would you find that comforting? That certainly sounds like an odd type of comfort to me. Regardless of race, one should not be comforted by other's problems. Furthermore, Shug is not the only person decent to Celie- have you forgotten Sofia, or even Celie's husband later in the novel? And your chauvinism is repulsive when you say that women have turned to lesbianism because they are overwhelmed by men. Rather, Celie and Shug know that they are above the men in their lives, and deserve better, so do in fact consciously turn away from them. Also, I am thoroughly confused at how your false philosophy of the female characters being overwhelmed by men leads to confirming chauvanism. So, although I agree with you that this book is a wonder(even though I give it an A), I believe that you seriously need to reconsider your reasons that support your opinions, for they are assuredly neither "right" nor "Right", but severely off.

- joe

- Apr-19-2003, 18:44


Anyone who thinks that Alice Walkers book, "The Color Purple" is just any ordinary book about the way blacks are being treated, evidently doesn't have an open mind. How can you judge her thoughts when you haven't been through what she's been through. This book gives people the confidence to stand up for what they believe in; it lets them know that if you have faith you will get what you ask for.

- janisa

- Nov-13-2002, 18:26