I have to begin by saying, The Color Purple (1982) by Alice Walker is one of the most heartbreaking books I’ve ever read. I read this book in preparation for a class I will be teaching this upcoming semester. I knew what I was going into when I started this book. I’ve seen bits and pieces of the movie (starring Danny Glover and Whoopi Goldberg) while subbing for another instructor at the university. However, I still wasn’t quite prepared for the main character’s first hand account of all that happens to her.
The book opens with the main character, Celie, being raped by her father, and follows her through all the hardships of her life thereafter, including the death of her mother, her forced marriage to a man no better than her Pa, her sister running away, and the abuse she endures while living in a household where she is unloved.
One of the most outstanding features of this book is the fact that it’s written in Celie’s own dialect. This isn’t a new feature used in literature by any means, but it really allowed me as a reader to get into Celie’s mind and her way of thinking, something that simply can’t be done with a film which, by default, tells the story in third person.
I enjoyed reading this book, and I think it’s going to be a good one to use for my college level course. However, I will say it’s not one I’m dying to read again. This has nothing to do with the quality of the writing or how believable the characters are. This is because I don’t like being so depressed when I read something. I like to enjoy what I’m reading. In the case of The Color Purple, I found my mood falling each time I read another chapter. Only a person with a heart of stone could refrain from being affected by this woman’s story.