The Color Purple

In the novel, Celie’s growth and self-realization are depicted movingly in The Color Purple, as she overcomes persecution and abuse to discover fulfillment and independence. Gender equality is also addressed in the work. Nettie has married Samuel, and Celie is reunited with her. Celie also reunites with her long-lost children for the first time.

The Color Purple broke the taboo surrounding domestic and sexual violence by telling the stories of women’s sorrow and struggle, friendship and growth, perseverance and bravery.

Here, you will find a summary of this 304-page long classic work of literature.

Book Details

Original Title The Color Purple
Author Alice Walker
Edition Language English
Publisher Penguin Books
Genre Epistolary novel, Domestic fiction
Pages 304 pages
Size 3.0 MB
Format PDF
First Published June 1st, 1982

Summary of the Novel

The Color Purple introduces Celie, an African American teenager raised in rural seclusion in Georgia faces tragedies and gradually triumphs as she learns to overcome the paralyzing self-concept imposed on her by others.

Celie tells the story of her life in a series of profoundly honest letters to God. When her abusive father, Alphonso, rapes her and gets her pregnant for a second time at the age of just 14 and warns her not to tell anyone about the incident but God, this idea of expressing her sorrow to God through letters comes into being.

After giving birth to the child of his father, she witnesses her child is being taken away by Alphonso as he had taken the previous child also, leaving Celie to believe that both the children are dead.

Meanwhile, a widowed man named Mr. Albert intends to marry Celie’s younger sister Nettie but Alphonso insists on Mr. Albert marrying Celie, pushing her into an abusive marriage. Nettie then escapes Alphonso and lives with Celie for a brief period, as Albert’s continuous interest in her compels her to leave Albert’s house.

Celie then begins to form friendships with other black women, particularly those who are actively resisting injustice. One of them is Sofia, who is stubborn, deserves special mention who marries Albert’s son Harpo after getting pregnant. Harpo struggles to be in control of the marriage and seeks advice from Celie. Celie encourages him to beat Sofia and to their surprise, Sofia resists. Eventually, Sofia comes to know about Celie’s encouragement of Harpo’s abusive behavior and confronts a guilty Celie, who was jealous of Sofia’s capability of resistance. After the incident, the women become great friends.

Celie develops a significant friendship with a glamorous singer Shug Avery. They grow closer and closer and eventually become lovers.

The Freedom

At this point, Celie discovers that Albert was hiding letters sent to her by Nettie and begins to read them. The letters reveal many shocking pieces of information regarding her life. She comes to know that Nettie has befriended a minister and his wife namely, Samuel and Corrine. She finds out that the couple’s adopted children, Adam and Olivia are the children of Celie and Alphonso was a stepfather to Celie.

These truths about her past become the turning point of Celie’s life, giving birth to an emboldened new Celie. Later, with the help of Shug, Celie moves to Memphis where she launches a successful business of tailored pants. Her newly found happiness, however, gets affected to a little extent by Shug’s affair. But she continues to love her.

The Reunion

Celie inherits Alphonso’s house upon his death and settles there. She develops a friendly relation with Albert who is now apologetic for his previous treatment of Celie. After around 30 years apart, Celie is reunited with Nettie who has married Samuel upon Corrine’s death. Celie also sees her long-lost children for the first time.

 

Criticism and Appreciations

The Color Purple gained worldwide critical acclaim, but it was not without its detractors, who objected to the film’s strong language and sexual content.

Starring Whoopi Goldberg (Celie), Danny Glover (Albert), and Oprah Winfrey (Sofia), Steven Spielberg directed an acclaimed film adaptation of the book in 1985. The Color Purple was also adapted for the stage, with the first Broadway performance taking place in 2005.

The Color Purple has been awarded significant awards namely, the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (1983), National Book Award for Fiction (1983), National Book Critics Award Nominee for Fiction (1982), etc.

Alice Walker’s epic, which is deeply sympathetic and brilliantly envisioned, takes readers on a spirit-affirming journey towards atonement and love. This piece of literature is a must-read for anyone. This is the kind of book that you would want to read before you leave the earth.

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