As many of you know there is a big push from the GOP to limit or ban abortion in many different states. I had decided to write about it a while ago, but the more I read up on this stuff the more it burned my biscuits…and the fact that there are many other people writing about it made me not want to write about it. Just thinking of it stresses me out so I will leave it at that.
Instead I will write about the book “The Color Purple” by Alice Walker. It is a banned/challenged book which is part of what made me want to read it to begin with. I had seen the movie by Oprah and Whoopi Goldberg, so I was curious as to how the book differed and what artistic difference was made between the two.
The book itself is written as a collection of letters. The beginning of which are being written to God. By the end of the book Celie is writing to her sister Nettie instead. It reads much like diary entries of what is happening to Celie so a lot of what you would think was important is left out. Celie’s point of view is the only point of view, which I actually thinks is what makes this book powerful. We don’t have an omnipresent narrator explaining both sides, we just see and feel what Celie sees and feels.
The reason it is a banned book is that it tends to get somewhat graphic. Celie has been raped by her step-father and then all but sold into marriage to Mr.______ where also takes liberties with her body. Never being taught that sex could be a pleasurable experience to a women, she sees it as just more work or another obligation to be fulfilled until Shug Avery comes along and teaches her a little about female anatomy.
As the first person to show Celie love, she falls in love with Shug and they have a lesbian affair off and on through the years. You get to see Celie’s love for Shug through her letters and her heartbreak when Shug decides she wants a younger man closer to the end of the book. By the end of the book Shug is back and Mr.______ (Albert) has done right by his wife. Celie has forgiven Albert and they develop a close, platonic friendship based on both of their love for Shug. This is the only part that bothers me and I think it is is the feminist in me that takes offense at becoming a friend of your abuser no matter what the reason or excuse of the abuse.
While the sex scenes that are shown to tend to be explicit, they are more about the innocent love between two people than pornographic, though I can see where many people would balk at letting their kids read it especially if they can’t bring themselves to teach their children about sex themselves. All in all I have to say I enjoyed the book and intend on reading it again. Also, I don’t think I will keep my children from reading it if they so choose as I see it as a way to open dialog with them about abuse and sexuality. Keeping these things closed tight in the closet helps no one, and while Celie is fictional, her story might be able to help them see things from a different point of view.