Book Review: The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Scene from the Oscar winning film adaptation of the book.

Scene from the Oscar winning film adaptation of the book.

Having been a fan of the film which starred Whoopi Goldberg and Danny Glover, I was interested to see how the book compared to the film.
One of the things I did like is the way the story is structured. Throughout the story the main Character Celie goes through a lot of trials in her life, at the start she is molested and also talks about how she was looked down upon at school even though she was considerably intelligent. When you consider these events you can see why the author Alice Walker structured the story as a prayer/diary, with almost all the pages begin with ‘Dear God’. It is almost like she is explaining to God why she needs his help.
Alice Walker does a great job of showing the personality of the characters through the language they used. For example, although she was consider intelligent at the earlier stages of her life, due to oppression and adverse events in her life Celie now speaks using incorrect grammar such as “they is talking” as opposed to ” they are talking”. On the other hand her sister speaks with correct grammar and so appears more educated to the reader.
The story also refers to some of the social issues that were present in the southern USA, for example when Celie’s dad is advising Mister to marry her he goes on tell him how great she is a worker, cleaner and cook. He ColorPurpledoesn’t mention anything in the way of her personal qualities, thus showing the opinion of women and how they should take on the role of their husband’s maid. Another area of social inequality that this book explores is racism against African-Americans. One of the characters called Sofia who is Celie’s stepson’s wife is made to be a maid for a Politian’s wife. Sofia refers to her living conditions as ‘slave-like’, she is given a small and cold room in the basement with very little furnishings and made to work long hours. There is also an instance where Sofia recounts her employer saying that Black people are responsible for the collapse of slavery due to their inability to cope with hard work!

The book follows the same narrative structure as the film that comes after it but there are a number of way in which the book differs from the film. The difference I enjoyed the most was the book had a happier ending than the film. Despite the abusive marriage, Celie and Mister eventually become close and loving towards one another near the end of the book.

Mr McDee


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