Catching up on The Classics is a monthly book club which aims to revisit the influential novels of past generations and to celebrate the classics that have made considerable dents within literature. This month’s classic is The Color Purple by Alice Walker.
The Color Purple depicts the lives of African American women living in the deep South in 20th century America. Through letters to God, Celie takes the reader through her traumatic youth, from being sexually abused and impregnated twice by her ‘Father’ to being separated from her sister Nettie and trapped into a toxic marriage. Effectively, Albert, her husband, introduces her to two women that lead Celie through self-discovery, womanhood and independence: Sophia, an independent woman who will not surrender to the racist and sexist society around her and Shug, Albert’s mistress, who introduces Celie to a life of love, friendship and a fundamentally new way of looking at life.
This book is an intense whirlwind of emotions. You’re thrown in from the first page into Celie’s traumatic experiences and the shock of this only forces you to carry her trauma throughout the book and creating a conscious emotional attachment to the scarred protagonist. Celie proved to be a remarkable and inspiring woman to be in the shoes of. She is seen, on a shallow level, by others as weak and submissive yet that is not at all the case. She is an immeasurably strong woman who knows she must adapt to her surroundings out of survival and fiercely battles through the abuse, racism, and sexism she faces.
There certainly isn’t a short list of characters in this book yet each introduction completely unfazed me. Walker delves into each character so deeply, I found myself instinctively analysing their mentalities and getting to know each persona greatly. Not to mention, the unconventional relationships between characters which presented the stunning reality of the human connection and the natural bonds that happen even if it is against the norm.
Overall, it’s an eye opening novel on what it was like for African Americans in the deep south and gave a lot of detailed context that brought, to me, a new level of knowledge and empathy. This is an expressive book that intimately portrays female empowerment, friendships, and sexuality and reading upon the blossoming of the female characters was immensely fulfilling and heart-warming. Truly, each page of this book felt like an investment and I was constantly eager to absorb more of Celie’s story and the women in her life.
Buy your own copy of The Color Purple here.
Next months book will be One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, grab the novel here.