Tuesday, 19 May 2020

The Color Purple. (Mindscape Review)

Hi Readers! How are you all? Guess what? I have officially completed 50% of my 2020 Reading Challenge! I was quite unsure of reading 52 books, but now that we have the gift of time, I think I will actually cross that mark! Okay, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Last week I completed reading ‘The Color Purple’ by Alice Walker. Initially, I started reading this book because it was an ‘LGBTQ+ Book’ stated in some article. But, it was so much more than that, which is why, I didn’t put it under that category on my Reading List. Instead, I put it on the category of a ‘Classic’. I had heard a lot of praise about this book & I am so glad that it was all worth it, which is usually not the case with so many classics.

It is the story of Celie, starting with when she was fourteen years old till she is middle-aged. The prose is in the form of letters; initially, letters that Celie writes to God, later on letters between Celie & Nettie. In the initial pages of the book, we understand that her father raped her & she had 2 children from him at the age of 14 who he gives up for adoption. And all this happens just in the first 10 pages. So, just how can one not possibly read further? Set from the period of 1910 to 1940, we get to see the story of Celie who is a shy girl, who lets everyone walk over her, does what everyone tells her & basically lives a meaningless life. She gets raped by her father. Is forced to marry an older man (Albert) at the age of 14. She becomes the stepmom to rotten children who are close to her own age. The one person she loves, her sister Nettie, has to go away from her. She lives a life of hardship until Shug Avery comes in her life.

We see how Celie becomes attracted to Shug & in return how Shug make Celie braver every day. Where Celie is shown as the most mundane character, we have all these other STRONG & AMAZING FEMALE CHARACTERS in her life. Shug Avery is a singer & being a coloured singer at that time is huge! We also have Sophia (Albert’s son Harpo’s wife) who is the perfect opposite of Celie. She is outspoken & rules over Harpo. She cannot be controlled by her husband as easily as Celie is by hers. She is the most badass female character in this book & I love her for it. Then, after about half of the book, we are re-introduced to Celie’s sister Nettie, in the form of her letters. And, reading about Nettie’s life sure was a breath of fresh air! Nettie becomes a missionary & goes to Africa with a couple who had adopted Celie’s 2 kids. I mean, how refreshing & powerful is that?

With the company of opinionated, smart & beautiful women like Shug Avery, Nettie & Sophia, we finally see Celie become her own woman. We watch Celie transform from that shy girl into Shug’s lover. We see her being harassed by Albert to finally standing up to him. From living a meaningless life, we see her actually achieving things & becoming independent. In a novel like this, you see why it was critical for someone like Celie to be the protagonist instead of say, Sophia or Shug. This is not just a story of transformation but so much more than that.

When I started reading ‘The Color Purple’, my first thought was “No.” The reason for this was because it was not in correct English. Having recently read ‘Miguel Street by V.S. Naipaul’ which was a whole lot in incorrect English, I was not keen on reading another one so soon. But, that’s when the magic happened. After reading the first few chapters, I just closed it. But, in those few chapters itself, the book captivated me. Yes, I did not like the narrative, but the power behind that narrative was astounding. Every time, I kept the book away, something in me kept going back for more. It is like some kind of magnetism that I was sharing with this amazing book! And when I decided that I was actually going to read it, I started to enjoy it in a much more deeper sense. Ignoring the language, now I was engrossed in all these amazingly & thoughtfully woven characters & their lives. I don’t think I felt such taking to any other book.

From the story, it is well established that the message the author wanted to focus on was women empowerment. Apart from this, there are also a lot of other themes throughout this novel. Themes on the impact of the low position of African-American women in the American social culture. Themes on how Black Lives Matter. Themes on God. Themes where poor unempowered women have to tolerate abuse from men. Themes of industrialization on villages. So many themes. In a short novel, Alice Walker managed to shed light on a lot of life’s injustice & make it so impactful.

Given that The Color Purple is a classic, it has been reviewed time & again with a lot of different perspectives. This was one of the reasons why I wasn’t very keen on writing a book review. But, of course, I had all these thoughts about the brilliance of it that I had to share it here! In my opinion, The Color Purple is the epitome of literature.

The Color Purple is a landmark novel wherein we see despite the racism of the society, sexist views in their own families & a lot of other injustices, how African-American women find the strength & grace to go on for the eternal love for their children & with the support of these lasting female friendships. There is SO MUCH to learn from this novel. I am sure every time one re-reads it, there is some new lesson. I have rated it at 4.5/5 on Goodreads.

What is your take on The Color Purple? Did I oversee any of the themes? Let me know in the comments below!
Until next time,

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