“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.”
– The Color Purple, Alice Walker
Hello everyone! I’m back with another instalment of my ‘5 reasons to read’ series. I recently reread The Color Purple by Alice Walker, which I first read a few years ago in sixth form. It was nice to go back and reread without over-analysing everything, and it made me realise just what an incredible book it actually is!
Explores LGBTQ+ themes without making a big song and dance about it
There was something so nice about reading a book that doesn’t shout “hey, look at me, I have LGBTQ+ themes!” Yes, I love that books are becoming far more diverse these days and that sexuality is a much less taboo subject. But sometimes it’s nice to be surprised. I had honestly forgotten that this book looks at the theme of homosexuality/bisexuality because it does so in such a gentle, quiet way. Celie talks about how she is not interested in men. The book features a f/f relationship but doesn’t make it into this huge thing. It was nice to read something that just felt real and honest.
Female empowerment/love of the female body
Further to the previous point, this book contains so much feminism but I feel like it’s never talked about in that respect?! Shug educates Celie on the joy of sex and teaches her not to be ashamed of her body, and I think that’s such an important topic that is not given enough attention. It also raises the issue of a woman’s body being a possession, and the right to say no. Girls everywhere should read this.
Obviously, I can’t speak from experience but I feel like Alice Walker is accurate in her representation of African-Americans and native African people. It is nice to see a contrast between how black people live in the United States and how they live in the missionary colonies. There is a lot to consider, from religious beliefs to marriage to the practice of scarification.
For those readers who like their books written as a series of letters, this one is perfect. Celie’s letters read like a diary and make you feel closer to her as a character and more invested in her story (especially considering how the novel opens). It also really helps to move the pace along, as most of the letters are fairly short.
Love and Family
None of the family units in The Color Purple are very conventional but that is what makes it so beautiful. These people band together through love, not obligation, and create their own group where everyone belongs and has a place. Celie appears to be the person to whom everyone is connected and it’s lovely to see.
This is one of the books I’ve read this month for the BookBum book club! The theme this month is ‘back to school’ and I’m hoping to read two books – one that I studied in school (this one) and one that is (or should be) required reading in schools that I haven’t read yet (The Handmaid’s Tale).
Have you read The Color Purple? Did you study it in school like me? What was your favourite required reading in school?