AUTHOR- ALICE WALKER
PUBLISHED IN- 1982
I find it weird just how the books select their owners. You know how you have this pile of books waiting around to be read but you just keep on buying new ones. But one day you get this strong desire to pick up a book that has been lying around for years in your bookshelf. You read it and you are glad that you waited this long because somehow it couldn’t have been any more of a perfect timing. Such is the power of a book. And those books which arrive just when you needed them become your best friends. They understand what has been going on in your life and give you a push saying, “It’s alright. You’ve got this.”
The color purple is such a book for me. There are so many things that I didn’t relate to and yet so many things that I did. I will get there shortly. But first with the synopsis.
Celie is the main protagonist of the story. The book constitutes of Celie writing letters to God and later to her sister, Nettie. At the age of fourteen, raped by her father on numerous occasions, Celie gives birth twice. Her children are taken away from her and she is married off to a certain mister Albert who had wanted to marry Nettie in the first place. The story proceeds then with numerous other characters being added along the plot. Celie meanwhile helps Nettie to run away from her home and get settled with another woman whom she had seen briefly with her daughter, Olivia. Another important character is that of Shug Avery, Albert’s mistress. Celie, being of a timid character gets abused by her husband often until Shug puts an end to it. I forgot to mention an important detail of the book; they are all black. Nettie who now lives with Corrine and Samuel, discovers that the couple has adopted Celie’s children, Olivia and Adam. As Nettie goes along with them to Africa as missionaries to help the people out there and educate the children, she keeps sending letter to Celie of her whereabouts and upbringing of her children. I don’t want to go into much details of it but towards the end, Nettie and Celie finally meet after some 20 odd years, Celie has her own business of making pants (she was great in sewing) after leaving Albert, Celie discovers that she loves Shug and finally, she meets her children.
Coming to the importance of the title of the book, here’s what the “book” had to say-
I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it. People think pleasing God is all God cares about. But any fool living in the world can see it always trying to please us back.
And here’s an inference that I found on a website-
The color purple represents all the good things in the world that God creates for men and women to enjoy. At the beginning of the book, you could say that Celie has no sense of the color purple.
Makes sense, huh?
The story focuses on the empowerment of the black women. Being a brown girl myself, I am yet to understand the concept of racism. Why does the color of the skin matter? I have met “fairer” people who darker hearts and “darker” people with fairer hearts. I am not going to be pretentious and say that I absolutely understand them. No, that ain’t true. Racism is still a concept that is quite foreign to me. You can’t feel the pain until you have experienced in first hand. Maybe, when someday I would be lucky enough to go abroad, then I would tell tales of how these things work but right now, living in my own niche, I can’t say the same. So along the story I tried my best to show as much empathy as I could relate with the characters.
Then there’s something that I could strongly relate to: Empowerment. I can’t even explain how important empowerment is in the lives of women. Constituting roughly 50% of the population doesn’t give the same rights to women as men get. That is just a harsh fact. Sexism is something that I have felt every other day. People automatically assuming that you are weak, uncapable and overly emotional, just because you were born having a vagina. How does having a vagina make a certain individual weak? I am not asking this just because I am a woman but because I don’t understand why. Sure enough, we are getting better at this as humans. We are gradually accepting it that women and men are the same. They both are equal individuals. It’s true that some jobs are far better suited for men and some for women and that’s the rule of nature. We see it in nature. Men are better in physical jobs whereas women outshine men in nursing the young ones. The problem is that men are being credited for the job whereas women are categorised as “weak” for her job, regardless of the importance of the jobs being the same. To imagine a world where men and women can coexist peacefully seems kind of like an utopia presently. I have been fortunate that I grew up in an environment where I wasn’t seen as less of a person because I am a woman. I do realise that not everyone is fortunate. What we, as women should do? Empower each other. There is no force stronger that getting a push from your own kind. Push your sisters, mothers, wives, female friends to do better. Even when we get support from men, it motivates us further. I have been especially thankful to my father in this regard. If it hadn’t been for him, I would never have the guts to even speak in a crowd full of men. Puberty and the society does that to us, women. So, let us lift each other up because each of us has that outstanding ability to shine.
Finally, here’s something that I found in the front pages of the book that I had. It is one of the reasons why I love second hand books so much! There is always a kind of story inside of them.
P.S.: I wasn’t aware that there is a movie of the same name. Imagine my surprise. I will get to it soon!