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Submitting a book for review, write the editor, you are here:, the color purple.

  • About the Book

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Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is the story of Celie, a young girl abused by her father and then married off to a violent and angry man. She maintains her dignity and strength through her relationship with Shug, a flamboyant blues singer who is having an affair with Celie's husband. With Shug's love comes great courage, and Celie finds a new person inside herself, awaiting bloom.

book report on the color purple

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

  • Publication Date: April 1, 1990
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket
  • ISBN-10: 0671727796
  • ISBN-13: 9780671727796

book report on the color purple

book report on the color purple

The Color Purple

Alice walker, ask litcharts ai: the answer to your questions.

Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Alice Walker's The Color Purple . Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

The Color Purple: Introduction

The color purple: plot summary, the color purple: detailed summary & analysis, the color purple: themes, the color purple: quotes, the color purple: characters, the color purple: symbols, the color purple: theme wheel, brief biography of alice walker.

The Color Purple PDF

Historical Context of The Color Purple

Other books related to the color purple.

  • Full Title: The Color Purple
  • When Written: 1981-82
  • Where Written: New York City
  • When Published: 1982
  • Literary Period: postmodernism in America
  • Genre: Epistolary novel; the 20th-century African-American novel; 20th-century feminist writing
  • Setting: Georgia and coastal Africa, roughly 1920-1950
  • Climax: Nettie and Celie are reunited, just before the novel's end, back in Georgia
  • Antagonist: Mr. and Pa
  • Point of View: first-person (epistolary, or a novel-in-letters)

Extra Credit for The Color Purple

White-black relations in the film version of The Color Purple. The film The Color Purple was directed by Stephen Spielberg, a white, male filmmaker. The film itself deals almost exclusively with the lives, troubles, and eventual triumph of African Americans, and some complained, during the film's production and release, that Spielberg did not have a right to direct a film running so counter to his personal experience. But Spielberg's efforts and response, implied in the film, point to the universality of Celie's experience, and to the applicability of the novel to people from all walks of life, and of all gender and racial backgrounds.

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The Color Purple

By alice walker.

  • The Color Purple Summary

The Color Purple is an epistolary novel, made up of letters written by Celie to God and by Nettie to Celie. At the start of the novel, Celie is a fourteen-year-old, vulnerable, abused black girl who addresses her letters to “Dear God.” Thirty years later, at the end of the novel, she has forged her own life despite a male-dominated and racially prejudiced society. She fights her way through life and questions everything she has been taught. Her most ambitious challenge is to remake her idea of God as an old, white, bearded male—her antithesis—into a God who encompasses everything and lives within her.

In Celie’s first letter to God, we learn that she has been raped by her father, Alfonso. Alfonso told her that she must not tell anybody what happens, except God. Celie falls pregnant twice and is taken out of school. Alfonso puts the children up for adoption, and they are taken in by a reverend living in the town. After her mother dies, Celie’s father marries her off to Mr. Albert ______.

Married life is also quite painful for Celie. She must raise Albert’s children, take full control of any house chores, endure unenjoyable intimate nights with her husband, and undergo regular, unnecessary beatings from him. Things improve for Celie for a short while after her sister Nettie comes to live with her. Unfortunately, Albert (who always preferred Nettie to Celie and asked Nettie to marry him first) refuses to allow Nettie to stay in his house unless she rewards him. When Nettie leaves, he follows her and tries to rape her, but she escapes and seeks out the Reverend, who is raising Celie’s children.

She gets a job as a maid with the family. The Reverend, whose name is Samuel , and his wife Corrine are both missionaries preparing to go to Africa. After they find that one of their partner missionaries is unable to go, they offer Nettie the chance to join them in Africa. Nettie is delighted and accepts. When Nettie arrives in Africa she begins to write frequently to Celie. She is constantly worried that her letters will not reach her sister and voices her concern, telling Celie that Albert had promised that she would never hear from her again. Celie accordingly is not given a single letter from Nettie for years.

Albert’s eldest son Harpo falls in love with a fifteen-year-old girl named Sofia. She is soon pregnant, and they marry. Harpo tries to dominate Sofia the way his father dominates Celie, but she is stronger and fights back. Eventually Sofia gets fed up with Harpo and leaves him to go live with her sister Odessa.

Albert finds out that his mistress of many years, Shug Avery, is ill. He drives off and brings her home, where Celie is required to take care of her. Celie is happy to do so; she remembers the first time she saw Shug in a photograph before she got married, and she thinks Shug is even more beautiful in the flesh. Shug is ill-tempered and nasty to Celie at first, but she soon starts to like Celie.

Harpo converts his house into a juke joint when Sofia leaves, but no one comes. He decides to ask Shug, who is a well-known jazz singer, if she will sing at his place. She agrees. Albert does not want Celie to go on the first night, but Shug insists that she go. Shug draws a large crowd and dedicates one of her songs to Celie.

Shug plans to leave but, in an attempt to keep her from going, Celie tells her that Albert beats her. Shug promises not to leave until he stops. Shug also learns that Celie has never enjoyed sex. Shug tries to educate Celie about how to get pleasure from sex, but it is soon clear that Celie feels nothing for Albert because she is attracted to women. Later, Celie experiences her first sexual pleasure with Shug.

One day Sofia turns up at Harpo’s place with a new boyfriend named Buster. She sees Harpo, they start chatting, and he asks her to dance. His new girlfriend Squeak is very jealous and slaps Sofia. Sofia immediately punches Squeak back, knocking out several of her teeth. Soon after, out in town, Sofia meets the Major and his wife Miss Millie. Quite taken with the children and impressed by their cleanliness, Ms. Millie asks Sofia to work as her nanny. When Sophia refuses, the Mayor slaps her and, in response, Sofia knocks him down. She is arrested and given twelve years in jail. Squeak is sent on a mission to get Sofia out of jail and move her into the Major’s house to work as a maid. Squeak goes to visit the warden and is raped by him. The visit is not fruitless, however, and Sofia is moved into the Major’s house as a maid. Following her rape, Squeak tells Harpo to call her by her real name, Mary Agnes.

Shug returns to Celie and Albert, bringing with her a new husband named Grady. Shug warns Celie that Albert is hiding letters from her, and they soon discover that Albert has been hiding Nettie’s letters all this time. Celie is furious, but Shug keeps her calm. Together they find all of the letters and start to read them.

Nettie’s early letters explain the beginning of her missionary trip to Africa with the Reverend and his family. The Olinka tribe there worships the roofleaf the people use for their roofs—without it their homes would be destroyed in the rainy season. The natives view Nettie as a second wife of Samuel, which makes Corrine very jealous. Soon she stops Nettie from meeting with Samuel in private or from borrowing her clothes. After a few years, Corrine comes down with a fever and dies, but she learns the truth about Nettie and her adopted children beforehand: Olivia and Adam are not really Nettie’s children by Samuel. Soon after, on a trip to England, Samuel and Nettie are married.

A road is built right through the village of the Olinka by a rubber manufacturing company, and it destroys the entire village. They are forced to relocate to a more barren area with poor water. The new owners of the land charge them for water and for the new tin roofs which the Olinka are forced to use. Many of the people leave to join the mbeles, a group of natives deep in the jungle who are struggling against the white man.

Since arriving in Africa, Adam and Olivia have become very good friends with a young Olinka girl named Tashi. Tashi decides that she must undergo the ritual Olinka scarring ceremony on her face as well as the female circumcision initiation in order to honor her culture. But she becomes so ashamed of the marks that she soon leaves to join the mbeles. Adam goes after her and brings her home, but she refuses to marry him because she is afraid she will not be accepted in the United States. Initially scathing about Tashi’s decision to become scarred, Adam now gets his face marked as well so that they look alike and so that she will not feel ashamed. Tashi and Adam are married, and the whole family then makes plans to return home.

After finding her sister’s letters, Celie decides to leave home with Shug. She tells Albert she is leaving. When he tries to stop her, she stabs his hand with a fork. Before she leaves, she curses him for the way he has treated her and tells him he will be cursed until he changes his ways. In response he refuses to send her any of Nettie’s letters as they keep arriving.

Celie goes to Memphis with Shug, where she starts making a lot of pants. Eventually she gets so good at designing them that she receives regular orders. Shug helps Celie turn the work into a business. Soon after, Celie learns that Alfonso, known to her as Pa, is not her real father after all, just the man who married her mother after her real father (who was a successful businessman) had been killed. After Alfonso dies, Celie receives a phone call telling her that her family home now belongs to Nettie and herself.

Celie fixes up her new house while Shug elopes with her new love interest, a nineteen-year-old flute player named Germaine. Celie is heartbroken, but she meets up with Albert occasionally when she visits Sofia’s daughter Henrietta , and they become good friends—he has changed a lot since the old days. Apparently, after Celie left he let everything go and almost died of malnourishment. Harpo finally forced him to send Nettie’s letters to Celie, and from that point he began to change his life around.

Shug returns and decides to retire, for her flute player has gone to college. Celie is now financially comfortable. She has her new house and her father’s dry goods store (which she also inherited) as well as her business.

Nettie finally returns home with Samuel and with Celie’s grown children. Celie and Nettie fall into each other’s arms and lie on the ground hugging. Celie writes that she has never felt so young before in her life.

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The Color Purple Questions and Answers

The Question and Answer section for The Color Purple is a great resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.

How are Shug and Nettie role models for Celie?

In the letter, Celie notes that she sees Nettie as a moral and intellectual role model, whereas, Shug serves as a sexual and emotional mentor. Both characters act as role models, though they do so in completely different ways.

How does Celie betray Sofia?

Celie betrays Sofia when she tells Harpo to beat her.

How does the author present female relationships?

At the start of the novel, the young, black female is presented as about the most vulnerable person in society. Celie epitomizes this female: she is abused and denied a voice by her (supposed) father and then by her husband. Along with the racial...

Study Guide for The Color Purple

The Color Purple is a book by Alice Walker. The Color Purple study guide contains a biography of Alice Walker, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.

  • About The Color Purple
  • Character List

Essays for The Color Purple

The Color Purple is an epistolary novel by Alice Walker. The Color Purple literature essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of The Color Purple by Alice Walker.

  • The Color Purple: Literary Techniques Employed by Alice Walker to Develop Celie's Character
  • Female Marginalisation Embodied in The Color Purple and The Yellow Wallpaper
  • Edith Wharton, Alice Walker, and Female Culture
  • Internalization and Externalization of Color in The Bluest Eye and The Color Purple
  • Reconciliation Between Public and Private Spheres: Mrs. Dalloway and The Color Purple

Lesson Plan for The Color Purple

  • About the Author
  • Study Objectives
  • Common Core Standards
  • Introduction to The Color Purple
  • Relationship to Other Books
  • Bringing in Technology
  • Notes to the Teacher
  • Related Links
  • The Color Purple Bibliography

Wikipedia Entries for The Color Purple

  • Introduction
  • Critical reception
  • Adaptations
  • Boycotting Israel

book report on the color purple

C.A. Hughes Book Reviews

The literary journeys of a 20-something, bilingual, elementary school teacher.

Book Review: “The Color Purple” by Alice Walker

book report on the color purple

Wow. This book was so much different than what I expected (though I guess I wasn’t sure what exactly to expect in the first place). I initially picked this up when I was a sophomore in high school, but ended up putting it down after reading only the first couple pages. There is pretty graphic abuse throughout the novel, and it occurs at the very beginning of the story. As a young reader who had never really been exposed to anything like that in stories before, it was pretty disturbing and upsetting. However, this time I was determined not to give up. And I’m so glad I didn’t! This book was so powerful and moving, and well worth the discomfort caused by the darker scenes.

Spoiler-Free Review: “The Color Purple” is a classic novel written by Alice Walker. I’m struggling to write a review for this book because a part of me feels like it isn’t really my place to. This book was not written for me, but I still gained so much from it. I will say, some of the issues I had while reading this book were understanding the setting and historical context, as it seemed a little ambiguous at first. I also struggled a little bit at first to figure out who all of the characters were, but this could be in large part due to how I listened to it as an audiobook rather than reading a physical copy. Also, on a personal level, it was incredibly heavy and difficult to read throughout much of the story, which made it hard for me to keep picking it back up. With all of that being said, reading this book is a productive struggle and well worth the effort. There were themes about race, but there were also important themes about womanhood, sexuality, and family. I wasn’t expecting it to be as empowering as it was! I loved its take on religion, forgiveness, and the enduring love of sisters. Though at times difficult to read, in the end it is a hopeful and empowering story about women, friendship, and family.

Below you will find a more thorough review containing my thoughts about the book. If you’re wanting to avoid any spoilers, you are welcome to jump to the TL;DR summary at the bottom of the page if you’d prefer!

“The Color Purple” by Alice Walker

Image result for the color purple book cover

  • Year of Publication: 1982
  • Genre: Literary Classic (Historical Fiction)
  • Summary: A powerful cultural touchstone of modern American literature,  The Color Purple  depicts the lives of African American women in early twentieth-century rural Georgia. Separated as girls, sisters Celie and Nettie sustain their loyalty to and hope in each other across time, distance and silence. Through a series of letters spanning twenty years, first from Celie to God, then the sisters to each other despite the unknown, the novel draws readers into its rich and memorable portrayals of Celie, Nettie, Shug Avery and Sofia and their experience.  The Color Purple  broke the silence around domestic and sexual abuse, narrating the lives of women through their pain and struggle, companionship and growth, resilience and bravery. Deeply compassionate and beautifully imagined, Alice Walker’s epic carries readers on a spirit-affirming journey towards redemption and love.

Trigger Warnings: Rape. Sexual and physical assault. Graphic language.

Format:  Audiobook (Narrated by Samira Wiley)

Themes:  Appreciate the little things. Find the strength and beauty within yourself. Stand up for yourself and how you deserve to be treated. Love without fear of rejection or reciprocation. To be loved is the greatest gift.

Character Development:  Celie’s growth throughout the story is incredible. She goes from believing she’s worth nothing, to finding her inner strength and beauty and defending herself against those who don’t treat her as she deserves. I also love the growth of the minor characters around her; her transformation inspires them to wake up and become their best selves as well.

Plot/Pacing:  Overall, the story is paced really well. There were times when the darkness and hardships seemed never-ending, which was a little difficult to get through. It also sometimes felt like there were subplots that were occasionally drawn out a little too long. However, it’s not a very long book and the main plot moves pretty swiftly. I’d say it’s stronger when viewed as a character-driven novel, though.

Writing Style:  This is an epistolary novel written in the format of letters to God. I think this was the perfect way to tell the story. The letters are so personal, raw, and emotional; you can really feel Celie’s despair as she documents and processes her hardships. You can also really hear each character’s voice and get to know them on a deeper level.

“Bingeability”:  Moderate. It’s not super “bingeable” due to how heavy it is (you wouldn’t want to read it all at once), but it’s also pretty short and broken up well into short letters. Therefore, due to the content it’s low bingeability, but the format and length bring it up to a moderate level of bingeability overall.

Emotional Investment:  Moderate. I was definitely emotionally invested in the outcome of Celie’s story; I really wanted her to finally get the love she deserved. However, there were many minor characters with subplots that I just wasn’t as invested in, which lowered the overall emotional investment a little bit.

Windows and Mirrors:  1930s South. Racism. Sexism. Assault. Domestic abuse. Missionary work.

Overall Thoughts:  This book was so different than I thought it would be. Honestly, I didn’t know much going into it, but I was still at least somewhat familiar with it and had never heard anything that described it like this. I knew it would have a lot to do with race considering it takes place in the south in the 1930s. However, it also had strong feminist themes which I wasn’t expecting at all. It was so empowering to read! The way the women in this story take charge of their lives against all odds and stand up for who they are is truly inspiring. There’s also a lesbian relationship in the story, and it’s hinted at that one of the partners in the relationship is bisexual. I was impressed with just how much ground this book covered with its themes regarding race, feminism, and sexuality. Another thought I have is just that I was confused quite a bit in the beginning of the story. I wasn’t entirely sure of the historical context or when it was set, and eventually had to look it up. There were also a lot of minor characters that I would sometimes get mixed up. However, I felt that the second half of the book was much stronger and more uplifting!

Recommendation: Yes, I absolutely recommend this book. It was difficult to read at times, but well worth it.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

TL;DR: Year of Publication: 1982 Genre: Literary Classic (Historical Fiction) Summary: LA powerful cultural touchstone of modern American literature,  The Color Purple  depicts the lives of African American women in early twentieth-century rural Georgia. Separated as girls, sisters Celie and Nettie sustain their loyalty to and hope in each other across time, distance and silence. Through a series of letters spanning twenty years, first from Celie to God, then the sisters to each other despite the unknown, the novel draws readers into its rich and memorable portrayals of Celie, Nettie, Shug Avery and Sofia and their experience.  The Color Purple  broke the silence around domestic and sexual abuse, narrating the lives of women through their pain and struggle, companionship and growth, resilience and bravery. Deeply compassionate and beautifully imagined, Alice Walker’s epic carries readers on a spirit-affirming journey towards redemption and love. TW: Rape. Sexual and physical assault. Graphic language. Themes: Appreciate the little things. Find the strength and beauty within yourself. Stand up for yourself and how you deserve to be treated. Love without fear or rejection or reciprocation. To be loved is the greatest gift. Character Development: Strong. Plot/Pacing: Extended sections of hardship and heaviness, and some drawn-out subplots. But a well-paced main plot. “Bingeability”: Moderate. Emotional Investment: Moderate. Windows and Mirrors: 1930s South. Racism. Sexism. Assault. Domestic abuse. Missionary work. Overall Thoughts: A little confusing at first, but more uplifting in the second half. Ambitious and empowering coverage of themes regarding race, feminism, and sexuality. Recommendation: Yes Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Thank you for reading my review! Leave a comment letting me know if you’ve read this one or have any questions about it, and keep an eye out for my next review!

book report on the color purple

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The color purple, common sense media reviewers.

book report on the color purple

Edgy tale of poor, abused woman's journey to independence.

The Color Purple book cover: illustration of two Black women's faces in different skin tones, one resting her chin on the other's right shoulder on a pale pink background

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Presents obstacles faced by as well as the joy and

The positive messages in the text are as timely to

Celie, the novel's main character, has always had

The Color Purple centers Black women and their dif

Violence is omnipresent, starting with Celie's rap

Two women characters have a loving romantic relati

Sexual and degrading slang is ubiquitous: "p---y,"

Many characters smoke cigarettes, cigars, and pipe

Parents need to know that Alice Walker's The Color Purple is a moving, inspirational novel told in letters that include an abundance of mature content: explicit sex, rape, incest, sexism, violence toward women, and more. Main character Celie shows courage and overcomes these obstacles through perseverance and…

Educational Value

Presents obstacles faced by as well as the joy and resilience of African American women in the South before the civil rights movement. In its second half, the book takes place in Africa and explores European imperialism during the same timespan from the perspective of American missionaries serving an African tribe. The effects of ignorance, poverty, racism, and sexism are alive on every page.

Positive Messages

The positive messages in the text are as timely today as they were when the story takes place: the need to respect people's rights to basic human dignity, freedom, independence, and individuality. The book also emphasizes the importance of finding your own voice and making your own way.

Positive Role Models

Celie, the novel's main character, has always had a miserable existence -- life has thrown her every bad turn imaginable. Still, she's determined to survive, and she evolves into a confident, contented, independent woman. Nettie, Celie's younger sister, moves to Africa to work as a missionary. She demonstrates faith and perseverance by writing letters to Celie for decades, never knowing whether or not Celie received them. She also shows compassion for the Olinka tribe, providing an alternate viewpoint on global imperialism. Shug Avery is a blues singer, loved romantically first by Celie's husband, then by Celie herself. She helps Celie develop courage and find her own voice.

Diverse Representations

The Color Purple centers Black women and their different points of view. Main character Celie is poor and uneducated, and the book is written the way she would have talked. This is contrasted with letters from her more educated sister, Nettie. Nettie's letters from Africa describe the fictional Olinka tribe through her eyes as an African American female missionary. Characters discuss their identities and situations in nuanced ways, showing multiple points of view and developing greater self-awareness as they mature together in a changing world. Black men tend to be villains in this world, but they evolve. Celie's husband and stepson even apologize for their earlier violence by the end of the novel. Celie is a lesbian, and other characters are accepting of this. Her relationship with older woman Shug, who's bisexual, is honest and tender. The author, Alice Walker, was the first Black woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. It should be noted that Walker's reputation has been complicated by accusations of antisemitism, but this isn't reflected in The Color Purple.

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Violence & Scariness

Violence is omnipresent, starting with Celie's rape by her father on the first page, followed by descriptions of Celie's father's presumed murder of their child, Celie's sexual abuse and beating by her husband, the beating of Celie's stepson's wife by a White mob led by police, a lynching, and references to facial scarring and female circumcision rituals in Africa. None of the violence is described graphically or in great detail; instead, the book focuses on the effects of violence and explores how characters grapple with trauma.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.

Sex, Romance & Nudity

Two women characters have a loving romantic relationship. Shug teaches Celie about orgasms and helps her examine her own sexual organs for the first time.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.

Sexual and degrading slang is ubiquitous: "p---y," "t--ties," "his thing," and the "N" word appear regularly.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Many characters smoke cigarettes, cigars, and pipes. They also drink and abuse alcohol, with negative effects shown. One character briefly (and legally) grows marijuana, which wasn't outlawed in the United States until 1937. A middle-aged woman tries a joint with her middle-aged stepson and his wife, but none of them enjoy it. Reference to harder drugs, but none of the main characters use them.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Alice Walker 's The Color Purple is a moving, inspirational novel told in letters that include an abundance of mature content: explicit sex, rape, incest, sexism, violence toward women, and more. Main character Celie shows courage and overcomes these obstacles through perseverance and friendship with other women, including a sensitively rendered romantic relationship with a compassionate older woman. It won both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Walker was the first Black female author to win the latter. The novel vividly portrays the harsh life of rural, poor African Americans -- especially women -- in the pre-civil-rights South and has been criticized for its negative depiction of African American men. It frequently appears on lists of banned/challenged books due to its sex, violence, and strong language, including the "N" word. There's a minor character who grows and uses marijuana. The novel was adapted for Steven Spielberg's successful 1985 film version and a 2005 Broadway musical. The 2005 musical was then adapted into a 2023 film . Walker's reputation has been complicated by accusations of antisemitism, but this isn't reflected in The Color Purple.

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Community reviews.

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Based on 2 parent reviews

Possibly the Best Descision I've Ever Made

What's the story.

THE COLOR PURPLE begins in rural Georgia in the 1930s, following 14-year-old Celie, an uneducated African American girl who's sexually abused and impregnated twice by her father. In desperation, she starts writing letters to God. Her father eventually marries her off to a man whom Celie refers to only as "Mr.," who really wanted to marry Celie's prettier sister, Nettie. After Nettie escapes her father's house and runs to Celie's, Mr. tries to force himself on her, and Nettie runs away and is presumed dead. Mr.'s mistress, Shug Avery, a beautiful blues singer, comes to stay at their house, and Celie finds herself attracted to her. Soon Celie and Shug discover a bunch of Nettie's letters -- which Mr. has kept hidden for years -- describing her life among missionaries in Africa. The story is told in alternating letters from Celie and Nettie, showing each sister's evolution and charting Celie's journey of self-discovery toward happiness and independence.

Is It Any Good?

Alice Walker offers a vivid, wrenching portrayal of the harsh circumstances and limited opportunities for poor, uneducated African American women in the early 1900s. The Color Purple also chronicles a woman's inspiring journey from abuse to independence and self-actualization. The novel was a bestseller when it came out in 1982, has continued to sell well ever since, and is sometimes assigned in high school, although it has been the consistent target of censors due to its mature content, which includes sex, violence, and strong language. Steven Spielberg's 1985 film version was popular with critics and audiences alike, as was a 2005 Broadway musical version, which was adapted into another film in 2023 .

Talk to Your Kids About ...

Families can talk about how gender roles and opportunities for people of color have changed since the era in which The Color Purple takes place (1910–1940). How do main characters like Celie and Sofia show perseverance against obstacles like racism and sexism? How different are things today?

Why do Mr. and Harpo use violence against Celie and Sofia? By the end of the book, how have their attitudes toward violence changed? How did Celie and Sofia reveal their own courage against this violence?

How is Celie's relationship with Shug different from Celie's relationship with her husband? How does each relationship affect Celie's self-esteem and personal growth?

How did Celie's sister Nettie show her compassion for the people in the Olinka tribe?

Book Details

  • Author : Alice Walker
  • Genre : Coming of Age
  • Topics : Brothers and Sisters , Friendship , History
  • Character Strengths : Compassion , Courage , Perseverance
  • Book type : Fiction
  • Publisher : Mariner Books
  • Publication date : January 1, 1982
  • Publisher's recommended age(s) : 14 - 17
  • Number of pages : 304
  • Last updated : January 17, 2024

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Untangling the Legacy of The Color Purple

A new book sorts through the controversies surrounding alice walker’s seminal novel..

book report on the color purple

During my sophomore year of college, my mom drove up to New York to take me to see The Color Purple on Broadway. We were not then and are not now a Broadway family: It remains the only musical I have ever seen in person. Still more, we bought merch! It all felt wildly out of character, but this was The Color Purple , the favorite movie of every Black woman in my family—how could we not at least take home a branded refrigerator magnet? At one point in the show, the characters Shug and Celie, whose relationship broke ground in terms of Black lesbian representation in literature (and later on screen), were being affectionate with one another. A woman in the row ahead of us started sucking her teeth in disgust and otherwise making her sentiments loudly known. It was deeply uncomfortable, and it seemed like she was going to go on forever until, suddenly, my mother piped up and said, for everyone to hear, “This is what happens when people don’t read the book.” 

book report on the color purple

The film version of The Color Purple (1985) largely excised the lesbian relationship at the center of Alice Walker’s Pulitzer prize–winning novel. Steven Spielberg, who directed the film (with Quincy Jones producing), explained the choice to have the two women kiss just once, and briefly. Had there been more, he said, “there would have just been too much on that one taboo.” Too much of what, and from whom? During production, the film was the subject of coordinated attacks, largely from Black male critics and certain community leaders who thought the novel—which explored unsparingly the subjects of incest, childhood rape, and domestic violence within the context of a single family in the rural South of the 1920s—furthered an image of Black men as violent and sexually aggressive. While the movie was still in production, an organization called the Coalition Against Black Male Exploitation sent out a bulletin claiming the relationship between Shug and Celie was an attack on Black male sexuality: “One must suspect this affectionate feminine display will be contrasted with an unfulfilling exchange between a black man and a black woman.”

In her new book, In Search of The Color Purple , the feminist scholar and writer Salamishah Tillet, writes that while “Jones and Spielberg insisted that these threats bore no impact on the movie itself,” there is little doubt that it sank the movie’s Oscar chances. The film, nominated for 11 Academy Awards, went home empty-handed, losing the top prize to Sydney Pollack’s Out of Africa (1985), a film based on the Isak Dinesen novel that, Tillet says, “basked in colonial fantasies of African primitivism and black inferiority.” Tillet, who is a professor of African-American studies and creative writing at Rutgers University and a contributing critic at The New York Times, offers up a history of The Color Purple, from novel to film to Broadway musical, with an emphasis on how sexism within the Black community—and the white establishment’s preference to frame racial injustice in terms of concerns facing Black men—stood between The Color Purple and recognition as “an American masterpiece.”

The Color Purple (1982) is an epistolary novel set in the interwar period of the early twentieth century. It begins with a 14-year-old girl named Celie writing to God about the sexual abuse she is suffering at the hands of the man she believes to be her father. He impregnates her twice, and takes the children away each time (for a while, she thinks he has killed them). Eventually, she is married off to a man she calls Mr.______, who abuses her emotionally, sexually, and physically. The only person in the world she feels loved by, her sister Nettie, runs off for fear of being raped by their father now that Celie is out of the home. For Tillet, Walker’s novel strikes a personal chord. A rape survivor herself, in 1997, she and her sister Scheherazade created “A Long Walk Home: Story of a Rape Survivor,” a multimedia project that documented Tillet’s process of healing. Tillet, who read The Color Purple the year before starting college, credits the novel with helping her come forward: “I broke my silence because of The Color Purple , ” she writes.

In the chapter on the Broadway adaptation, Tillet interviews Oprah Winfrey (who was a co-producer on the musical, along with Harvey Weinstein and others), who played Sofia, Celie’s brash and outspoken daughter-in-law who meets a tragic fate, in the film. Winfrey, too, is a survivor: As a child, she was repeatedly raped by family members and older men, at one point falling pregnant with her uncle’s child. Winfrey tells Tillet how much The Color Purple meant for her, how it helped her feel less alone: “I opened the page and saw Dear God, fourteen years old, what’s happening to me? Being a girl who was fourteen years old who had a baby, I was like, ‘There’s another human being with my story.’”

It was that very willingness to call out sexual violence within the Black community that made The Color Purple, the book, but particularly the film, the target of vitriol. When Gloria Steinem’s Ms. magazine put Walker on the cover in advance of the novel’s publication, the Black writer and satirist Ishmael Reed claimed Walker was Steinem’s “pawn.” In an interview for an Australian newspaper, from which Tillet quotes, Reed says, “There’s the kamikaze feminist and the Gloria Steinem Axis, and the Black Feminist Auxiliary. I think Alice Walker is part of this group, which characterizes Black men as rapists.” Steinem told Tillet, “The idea that anyone could ever control Alice. It’s so ridiculous, it’s like controlling the ocean!” The Hollywood–Beverly Hills chapter of the NAACP picketed the film, holding signs that read, “Are White Producers Trying to Destroy Black Men?” In 1986, the journalist Tony Brown devoted an entire episode of his show, a popular independent Black news program called Tony Brown’s Journal, to the controversy and dubbed it “Purple Rage.” He later went on The Phil Donahue Show, where he called the film “the most racist depiction of black men since The Birth of a Nation. ” The director Spike Lee, then promoting his film She’s Gotta Have It, told interviewers, “The difference between this film and The Color Purple is that even though there are some dog Black men in this film, you can tell there is a difference. The film was not done with hate.”  

For Tillet, the uproar surrounding The Color Purple is just one instance of a perennial problem for Black women doing creative and political work at the intersection of gender and racial politics. “The controversy also took such a firm hold,” she says, “because it drew upon a stereotype that at the time was well-known among African Americans but far less familiar to white people: the black woman as race traitor.” Tillet sees echoes of this in critiques of the #MeToo movement, particularly in responses to allegations involving high-profile Black men like the rapper R. Kelly and the hip-hop and fashion mogul Russell Simmons.

Reading Tillet, I was reminded of an essay by Jemele Hill, “R. Kelly and the Cost of Black Protectionism.” Written in response to Surviving R. Kelly, the Lifetime documentary that featured firsthand testimony from his accusers and enablers, Hill highlighted the way high-profile Black men (and their lawyers) have compared the women accusing them of sexual assault to lynch mobs. Following the premiere of the documentary and the subsequent proliferation of the hashtag #MuteRKelly, Kelly’s legal team released a statement promising, “Since America was born, black men and women have been lynched for having sex or for being accused of it. We will vigorously resist this attempted public lynching of a black man who has made extraordinary contributions to our culture.” Similar language was invoked by Clarence Thomas in his statement to Congress during the Anita Hill hearing, which he called a “high-tech lynching,” and by Bill Cosby’s wife when the rape allegations against Cosby first came to light. For Hill, the use of the word lynching is meant to signal to Black women and girls that racial oppression must remain their primary concern, and as a result many refuse to come forward with their allegations against Black men, “because they don’t want to become another vehicle that contributes to their destruction.”  

Likewise, Tillet powerfully puts forward the  Color Purple controversy as an example of how Black women have been asked to silence their own pain to supposedly serve the greater cause of racial uplift. Threaded throughout these attacks on The Color Purple is the idea that the danger of reinforcing stereotypes about Black male sexuality is too great to allow room for Black women to have justice.  

Sadly though, I found Tillet ultimately guilty of a similar kind of thinking when it came time to address Walker’s well-documented antisemitism. In 2018, in a piece for The New York Times, Walker recommended And the Truth Shall Set You Free by the antisemitic conspiracy theorist David Icke. Walker called the book, in which Icke gives credence to Holocaust deniers and promulgates conspiracies about Jewish global domination, “a curious person’s dream come true.” Shortly afterward, an earlier poem written by Walker surfaced in which she repeats a willfully misinterpreted section of the Talmud that antisemites like to claim sanctions marriage with 3-year-old girls (it does not). The revelation of Walker’s antisemitism comes up just once in Tillet’s book, when she remarks on Walker’s resilience in the face of attacks:  

Each embroilment, starting with the early criticism that she had colluded with Gloria Steinem and Steven Spielberg in violently stereotyping black men in The Color Purple, to the abuse she endured for her indictment of female genital mutilation in Africa in Possessing the Secret of Joy  … to the more recent accusations of anti-semitism as a result of her naming British conspiracy theorist David Icke’s And the Truth Shall Set You Free as an entry for “By the Book,” a weekly feature in The New York Times Book Review, all stereotyped her as a black woman filled with hate and consumed by anger.

I gasped when I read this. Rhetorically, Tillet’s words here have the effect of situating those offended by Walker’s antisemitism alongside the misogynist male critics who lampooned the film, and implies that those who call out Walker’s behavior are contributing to stereotypes about Black women. This is so disappointing from Tillet, who has just spent an entire book forcefully explaining how the fear of reinforcing racial stereotypes resulted in the silencing of an entire community. Tillet goes on to describe a December 2018 article by Nylah Burton , a Black Jewish writer who wrote about the controversy surrounding Walker and Icke, drawing largely conciliatory quotes from Burton’s otherwise quite critical piece, in which Burton laments that an author like Walker “could put the burden of her trauma onto us—black Jewish women.” The result is an unfortunate conclusion to an otherwise powerfully persuasive and emotionally raw book about the indignities Black women have faced just trying to tell their stories, on the page and in life.  

What comes through most in Tillet’s book is that the reception of The Color Purple in its various iterations overshadowed the work itself, as so many of the prominent critical voices in Black American letters have been forced to turn their attention to picket signs, boycotts, Oscar campaigns, and talk shows, rather than the novel itself. The fear of how it could be used to stereotype Black men has resulted in it being analyzed as a proxy war first, a work of art second. Unlike Tillet, however, I am not convinced that the alternative would produce a chorus of people claiming The Color Purple a “masterpiece.” For my part, I find it aesthetically awkward, and many of the relationships, particularly the friendships between women, still feel to me like they were shoehorned into second-wave feminist narratives about solidarity. That such a conversation—about the art itself—feels marginal to The Color Purple and its place within literary history is just another frustrating example of how little room the world gives Black women not just to succeed but also to fail—artistically and morally.

Jennifer Wilson is a frequent contributor to The New Republic .

book report on the color purple

Themes and Analysis

The color purple, by alice walker.

'The Color Purple' by Alice Walker is a great novel with powerful stories and themes that are relevant across continents and generations. The novel also has inspirational symbols like the phrase of the title which symbolizes beauty in nature.

Onyekachi Osuji

Article written by Onyekachi Osuji

B.A. in Public Administration and certified in Creative Writing (Fiction and Non-Fiction)

Alice Walker tells a great story and teaches numerous lessons in The Color Purple . She also uses an interesting narrative style of letter writing to narrate the entire story. Below is an in-depth analysis of some of the themes and symbols in the novel.

Gender is the major theme in The Color Purple . We see the dynamics of gender from different dimensions. Also, we see race, religion, and an array of other themes. Let’s explore some of these themes.

Gender Inequality and Injustice

In The Color Purple , we see the unjust treatment of females by males, subjugation of women by the society, and also women sabotaging their fellow women.

There is the vulnerable girl child that is preyed upon, abused, and raped by cruel individuals in the family units. For instance, we hear Sofia’s melancholy words, as quoted from ‘ The Color Purple’ :

a girl child ain’t safe in a family of men Sofia to Celie (page 41)

Celie’s life is a testimony of the sad truth of the above words by Sofia. We see young Celie who is repeatedly raped by her stepfather from so early an age that as a teenager, she has been impregnated twice. Then her stepfather marries her off without her consent and her husband continues the vicious cycle of abuse that her step-father began.

Then we see in the novel, stereotypes, cultural practices, and beliefs that are created to subjugate women in society. This is most notable in the village of Olinka where the essence of a woman’s existence is in getting married to a man and becoming the mother of the man’s children. In the words of an Olinka mother to Nettie :

A girl is nothing to herself; only to her husband does she become something An Olinka woman to Nettie when asked why they do not send their daughters to school (page 171)

The people of Olinka do not permit females to go to school or act independently, there must be a man at every point in her life to “look after” her.

We also see an indication of a patriarchal society that subjugates women in the beliefs and actions of most of the male characters. For instance, when Harpo as a boy is asked by his aunt Kate to help with chores around the house, Harpo replies that ‘Women work. I’m a man’, which shows that he has been trained to believe that chores are only for females and that as a male he is entitled to be in the house without helping out with chores.

Gender Solidarity

The Color Purple is emphatic with the message that women should support their fellow women and that women’s support for each other helps them thrive as individuals and gives them the power to overcome their struggles.

This is most notable in the support and friendship between Celie and Shug Avery, Celie and Nettie, Celie and Sofia, Shug Avery and Squeak, and between the women of Olinka.

Celie cared for Shug Avery when she was sick and her care was instrumental in nursing her back to life. Shug on her part, teaches Celie a new concept of religion that empowers her, and encourages her to leave Albert and begin a business of her own, without the friendship of Shug, Celie’s redemption as an individual might have taken longer to achieve or might not have happened at all. It was Shug who helped Celie control her instinct to murder Albert and helped her direct her energy to something productive. It was also Shug that brought Nettie’s hidden letters to Celie and the loving words in Nettie’s letters contributed to Celie’s healing as an individual.

In Olinka, the women have camaraderie and friendship with each other, even among women that share the same husband and these women work together and care for each other, often excluding their husbands in this friendship.

Sofia’s sister Odessa takes Sofia in when Sofia leaves her marriage and also cares for Sofia’s children when Sofia goes to prison. Sofia encourages Squeak to pursue her singing career and offers to look after Squeak’s daughter in Squeak’s absence which also shows gender solidarity.

Gender Stereotypes

Another theme on gender in The Color Purple is that the traditional gender stereotypes for men and women are wrong and often hinders individuals from doing things that make them happy and from being productive.

Albert reminisces on his love for sewing as a youth but how he was forced to abandon sewing because folks made fun of him for doing a chore that they believe is meant for women.

We also have Alice Walker rebuffing some notions of masculinity and femininity through events in the novel. On page 326, Albert describes Shug’s qualities of being upright, honest, speaking her mind without caring what people think, and fighting for her happiness as being ‘manly’. And he also admits that Sofia shares those same qualities. Celie replies that those qualities are rather ‘womanly’ qualities especially since he and his son do not have those qualities and the people that are known to have those qualities are Shug and Sofia who are women.

Walker also deals with the dressing stereotypes for men and women in The Color Purple , fighting the notion that wearing pants is a dressing meant for men alone.

Race is another key issue . The Color Purple gives an unobtrusive depiction of racial discrimination against blacks , particularly in the South of the USA.

The mayor’s wife does not realize that her patronizing treatment of blacks is condescending. The mayor’s wife sees a clean and respectable-looking black woman with a car and her well-dressed children, and instead of her admiration for them to inspire respect, it inspires in her the desire to have the black woman come to serve as her maid.

Sofia’s response of “Hell No” to the mayor’s wife leads to assault by the mayor and by a large group of police officers because it is almost inconceivable for a black woman to talk back sharply at a white woman.

In the USA at the time, there were separate sections for whites and blacks in public trains, which was a glaring indication of racial discrimination.

Beauty standards of the time also reflect a prejudiced notion of being black. For instance, Albert’s sister Carrie does not agree that Albert’s deceased wife, whom Kate described as beautiful was actually beautiful just because Albert’s deceased wife had a dark complexion. Also, Tashi observes that from pictures of women she saw in western magazines, it was clear that the people of America did not like dark-skinned women.

Another pitiable indication of racial discrimination is the case of Squeak, who is biracial and who was asked to act like a white lady in order to plead Sofia’s case with the prison warder but who unfortunately was raped as the prison warder recognized her as a biracial lady and not as a white. This shows how blacks are regarded by the privileged whites.

One of the religious lessons The Color Purple teaches is that God is not restricted to the traditional image of the Christian God. That God can be found everywhere and in everything.

Celie was writing letters to the Christian image of God, to which she felt no connection to and nothing in her life improved until she changed her perception of God and began to feel free and powerful.

Nettie, who went to Africa on a mission to convert the roof leaf-worshipping villagers of Olinka into Christendom, later became confused about what was the true image of God between Jesus Christ and the roof leak.

Tact and Survival

Another theme in The Color Purple is the importance of tact in survival. Walker was passing the message that sometimes one condones unpleasantness in order to avert worse outcomes, especially in situations where one is dealing with people who wield more power than oneself.

Celie was tactful in acting docile in the face of abuse because she was a vulnerable child that had no one to protect her, and she was not powerful enough to protect herself. So she condoned abuse without resistance in a bid to survive.

Sofia is a strong woman and a fighter but lacks tact, for which she paid a great price.  She was not tactful in her reaction to the mayor and his wife, and this got her to respond with indignation at the mayor’s wife’s request that she serve as a maid and to retaliate against the physical assault by the mayor, an action which stripped her off twelve years of her freedom and made her lose out on her children’s growing up. She later learned tact the hard way as she began to conduct herself as a submissive and well-behaved prisoner even though underneath that docile exterior, she was furious enough to kill.

Alphonso, though a villain, was tactful enough to avoid being lynched like Celie’s father by using a white person to run his business and by reaching certain compromises with the powerful whites in his area of business.

Imperialism and Exploitation

Alice Walker did some expositions of the exploitative motivations of the Western world in Africa. In The Color Purple , we see how the more powerful countries of the world will always exploit and destroy the less powerful countries and that sometimes, these exploitative motives are disguised as philanthropy, development, or benevolence.

She talks about England looting valuable artifacts from Africa, Holland using cheap labor of Africans on questionably acquired cocoa plantations, and western capitalists’ forceful evacuation of the people of Olinka from their homes and imposing taxes on them.

Analysis of Key Moments

  • Celie is fourteen years old and writing to God about being sexually abused by her father, Alphonso.
  • Celie’s mother dies. Celie is pregnant for the second time and fears Alphonso will kill the child just as he killed the first one. Alphonso takes the second child away from Celie, too, without letting her know the whereabouts of the child.
  • A widower called Albert comes to ask for Nettie’s hand in marriage, but Alphonso persuades Albert to marry Celie instead of Nettie, which he does.
  • Albert beats, rapes, and abuses Celie in their marriage and Albert’s spoiled children give Celie a difficult time in her matrimonial home.
  • Celie meets a little girl, whom her instincts tell her is her daughter, with a rich woman at a store in town. They talk, and the rich woman introduces herself as the reverend’s wife.
  • Nettie runs away from home when Alphonso tries to rape her and goes to Celie
  • Albert begins to make sexual advances at Nettie, and when she fights him off, he sends her away from his house. Celie suggests to Nettie to run to the rich woman she saw at the store in town and also makes Nettie promise to write her letters.
  • Harpo, Albert’s son, marries a pretty and confident woman called Sofia. After a while, Harpo begins to complain that Sofia does not obey him and asks Celie for advice. Celie advises Harpo to beat Sofia.
  • Sofia confronts Celie about the advice to Harpo, and Celie admits guilt and apologizes, and the two women begin to get along.
  •  Albert brings home his ex-lover, Shug Avery, who is critically ill, and Celie begins to nurse her.
  • Sofia complains of being unhappy in her marriage and leaves Harpo, taking their five children with her.
  • Harpo converts their home into a juke joint after Sofia and the kids leave.
  • Shug Avery regains her health and begins to perform at Harpo’s juke joint.
  •  Sofia gets arrested for retaliating against a slap by the mayor and sentenced to twelve years in prison.
  • Harpo’s girlfriend, Squeak, who is biracial, pretends to be a white lady and goes to plead Sofia’s case with the prison warder but unfortunately gets raped by the prison warder.
  • Shug Avery finds out that Nettie had been writing Celie but that Albert had been hiding the letters. Celie begins to read Nettie’s letters.
  • Celie learns that Nettie is on a mission in Africa and that the lady she saw at the store and her husband adopted Celie’s two children who are alive and well.
  •  Shug Avery and Celie become closer as friends and eventually become lovers. Shug advises Celie to start sewing pants to distract her mind because Celie is angry and wants to kill Albert for being an abusive husband to her and for hiding her sister’s letters from her.
  • Shug travels to Tennessee, taking Celie and Squeak. And while there, Celie begins to design and sew so many pants and eventually makes a business out of it.
  •  Celie learns that Alphonso is not her and Nettie’s biological father but only their stepfather. She also learns that her real father was a wealthy merchant who was lynched by white people for being a business competition to them.
  •  Alphonso dies and Celie discovers that her childhood home, her late father’s store, and all their other properties were left to her by her mother.
  •  Nettie gets married to Samuel after his wife Corrine dies.
  • Albert becomes a changed and better man and asks Celie for forgiveness, and they both become friends, although Celie refuses to stay married to him.
  • Nettie returns from Africa with Celie’s children, Adam and Olivia, and they all reunite happily.

Style, Tone, and Figurative Language

Alice Walker uses letter writing to narrate the entire events in the novel. The epistolary style of The Color Purple takes on three key narrative perspectives. First is Celie’s letters to God, then Nettie’s letters to Celie, again Celie’s letters to Nettie, and the last letter is Celie’s letter addressed to “Dear God. Dear stars, dear trees, dear sky, dear peoples. Dear Everything. Dear God”.

The diction is mostly vernacular as the main narrator Celie is an uneducated southern girl who does not know to spell so many words correctly. There are instances of her limited literacy in her spelling of words like tuberculosis as “two berkulosis” and using the pronoun “us” where “we” should be used.

Alice Walker also makes use of character foils in The Color Purple . Celie and Shug Avery are character foils. Celie is docile and subdued, while Shug Avery is vivacious, bold, and free. The characters Albert and Jack also foil each other; Albert is abusive to women while Jack is supportive of women, Albert is not a loving father even though he has children, while Jack loves and cares for children even though he has none of his own.

Analysis of Symbols

The color purple symbolizes beauty, especially beauty found in nature. When Shug says she thinks it pisses God off when one walks by the color purple in a field and does not notice, she is referring to missing out on appreciating the beauty of nature all around us(page 223). Celie goes further to ponder on the creativity it took to create the color purple when she admits that she’d been so occupied with thinking about God that she failed to notice creations like the color purple and marvels at where it comes from.

The Juke Joint is a place where people convene in the evening to relax and have a good time. It symbolizes momentary relief in suffering and togetherness. The characters, both friends and adversaries, all sought this relief and came together.

It is also a symbol of Harpo’s coming of age and independence from his father.

This is a symbol of the creativity and resourcefulness of the African-American woman. It is also a symbol of friendship, togetherness, and storytelling. For instance, Sofia and Celie began quilting after reconciling and sharing their stories with each other.

Pants in The Color Purple symbolize the gender stereotype of manliness. It then goes further to show that the quality of manliness is not fit for men alone but for women too.

Shug Avery’s love of elephants symbolizes strength, loyalty, and a nurturing quality in herself. And her love of turtles symbolizes her longevity and a hard exterior that protects a soft inner self.

Celie chooses the duck as an animal that represents her. A duck being an animal that can swim, walk and fly, it represents Celie’s quality of adaptability to circumstances around her.

What is the main theme of The Color Purple ?

The main theme of The Color Purple is Gender. The novel exposes gender subjugation and preaches gender solidarity among women. It also tries to break certain gender stereotypes about masculinity and femininity. Some other themes in the novel are race, religion, and imperialism. It talks about the racial discrimination against blacks in the United States, tries to change the notion of God as depicted by Christianity, and laments the exploitation of Africa by western countries.

Does Shug love Celie?

Yes, Shug loves Celie. She begs Celie not to kill Albert because that would make Celie go to prison and she, Shug, cannot bear the thought of losing Celie. Then she also professes her love for Celie as she asks Celie to give her a few months to indulge in one last fling and then return to her.

Why did Alice Walker name her novel The Color Purple ?

Alice Walker named her novel The Color Purple to symbolize the beauty of nature. A reference to the title is found on pages 223 and 224 of the novel, where the character Shug Avery tells the protagonist Celie that it pisses God off when one walks by the color purple in the fields and does not notice. Celie also marvels at where such a beautiful color comes from.

What does Celie do that surprises everyone at the dinner table?

Celie shouts back at Albert in outrage. The action surprises everyone at the table because Celie is known to be docile and submissive and never stands up for herself. Her outrage is a result of years of suppressed emotions as a result of the physical and emotional abuse she has suffered in her life.

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Onyekachi Osuji

About Onyekachi Osuji

Onyekachi was already an adult when she discovered the rich artistry in the storytelling craft of her people—the native Igbo tribe of Africa. This connection to her roots has inspired her to become a Literature enthusiast with an interest in the stories of Igbo origin and books from writers of diverse backgrounds. She writes stories of her own and works on Literary Analysis in various genres.

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Great Books Guy

Reading the classics.

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1983 Pulitzer Prize Review: The Color Purple by Alice Walker

“You better not never tell nobody but God. It’d kill your mammy ” (opening lines).

I often look to great literature to enlighten, educate, uplift, and inspire the soul, however The Color Purple is a weighty, and at times, shocking novel that struggles to find redemption. If you look for it, however, you can find praise for its unique modernist use of local color and dialogue (even if the novel’s preachiness is masked by its poetically crafted cadences), but on the whole The Color Purple is a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel I would not soon revisit again. Maybe at the advanced age of thirty-two I have lost my youthful tolerance for violence, gratuity, and vulgarity. Now I find myself yearning for novels of nostalgia, simplicity, order, beauty, and innocence.

book report on the color purple

The Color Purple is epistolary in style –it is told through a series of letters written by Celie, a young black girl living in the South during the 1930s. At the outset, The Color Purple is dedicated to the “Spirit.” It opens with a Stevie Wonder quotation and ends with the author, Alice Walker, thanking us readers for coming along on this journey. She signs herself as the novel’s “author and medium.” In the first half of the book, Celie’s letters are addressed directly to God. She describes the horrific events of her life: beginning at the age of 14 when she is violently and repeatedly raped by her stepfather (a man she believes to be her true father). She bears several children, and is then forced to partner with another man, Albert (a.k.a. “Mr. __”), in order to save her younger sister, Nettie. Unsurprisingly, Albert turns out to be a fiercely tyrannical husband who forces Celie to work manual labor all day. Along the way, Celie falls in love with Albert’s female jazz-singing beau, Shug Avery, who encourages Celie to explore her own sexuality. They both begin spending intimate time together while Shug is at the same time romantically involved with Albert. The second half of The Color Purple serves as a reawakening for Celie. She discovers a pile of hidden letters from Nettie that were viciously concealed by Albert. By now, Nettie has now become a missionary in Africa, a land that is described as idyllic and superior to the legacy of Europe (there is a not-so-subtle rebuke of Western civilization, and especially the United States, throughout the novel). The Color Purple is also a distinctly feminist novel. The men in the novel are conveyed as ignorant buffoons at best, and violent and unpredictable animals at worst. In fact, upon the novel’s release a minor controversy unfolded wherein certain African American intellectuals and commentators criticized Alice Walker for her portrayal of black men as essentially one-dimensional and evil throughout the novel. However, most of the commentary on The Color Purple has been universally laudatory (it won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award).

In the end, Celie’s paramour, Shug, falls in love with someone else and Celie begins to appreciate her relationship with her abusive partner, Albert, more and more. Eventually Shug returns to Celie after declaring her other love affair was merely a fling, and the trio continue with their unusual partnership. In the end, Celie receives notification that Nettie has died in a drowning accident but Celie refuses to believe the story. She is proven correct when Nettie and her new family suddenly arrive at Celie’s home to much elation. By the end, Celie’s unorthodox family is once again united –the novel ends with a celebration of the communal idea of family.

In a formal sense, The Color Purple has often drawn comparisons to William Faulkner’s experimental novels such as As I Lay Dying , and perhaps some of this comparison is apt, though Faulkner’s novels refuse to be even half as exploitative. The title for The Color Purple is in reference to a particular moment wherein Shug reminds Celie to pay attention to the small things in life, such as the color of purple in a field of grass (otherwise God will get mad). In 1985, Steven Spielberg directed a film version of The Color Purple starring Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey ( feel free to read my review of the film here ) , and the story has also been made into a Broadway play in recent years. The film version, while mostly celebrated, also caused a minor controversy when it exposed some unfortunate cultural fissures between Jewish Americans and African Americans upon its release. The film was boycotted in a few cities and some prominent celebrities echoed certain vile anti-Jewish conspiracies. A story like The Color Purple , filled with such heavy and brazenly shocking content, sadly runs the risk of bringing out the worst in people.

About the 1983 Pulitzer Prize Decision

The Pulitzer finalists in 1983 included: Rabbis and Wives by the great Yiddish author, Chaim Grade, a book which contains three novellas about a Jewish village in Lithuania between the two world wars; and Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Anne Tyler, a book about three children raised by a single mother in Baltimore, Maryland. The 1983 Novel Jury consisted of:

  • Midge Decter (Chair) is a politically conservative journalist for publications including Midstream, Commentary, Harper’s, The National Review, First Things, The American Spectator , and others. She later became a prominent figure in the 21st century neoconservative movement and she co-chaired “The Committee For The Free World” with Donald Rumsfeld.
  • John Clellon Holmes is a Professor at the University of Arkansas and author of Go , a novel that is widely regarded as the first true “beat” generation book because it features his friends: Jack Kerouac, and Neal Cassady.
  • Peter S. Prescott was the former Senior Book Reviewer for Newsweek . He also served on the Pulitzer Fiction Juries in 1981, 1983, 1987 and 1989 at the behest of Robert Christopher, Secretary of the Pulitzer Board and administrator of the Pulitzer Prizes from 1981-1992 (a former Newsweek colleague). As an aside, Robert Christopher was the first Pulitzer Prize administrator to be recruited directly from the profession; both his immediate predecessor (Richard T. Baker) and the inaugural secretary (John Hohenberg) were already tenured members of the faculty at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism upon assuming the post.

About Alice Walker

Alice Walker (1944- ) was raised in the segregated South during the 1940s and 1950s. Her parents were sharecroppers in Eatanton, Georgia. After attending the only school available for black Americans in her region, Walker enrolled in Spelman College in 1961 where she was exposed to progressive social activism under the tutelage of Howard Zinn and others. After Howard Zinn was infamously fired from his teaching post, Walker accepted a scholarship to attend Sarah Lawrence College. During her senior year she became pregnant and had an abortion –an experience she later said fueled her suicidal depression and inspired much of her early poetry.

Alice Walker went back to the south and worked for a variety of nonprofit organizations before returning to academia and eventually becoming a full-time writer. In 1967, she married Melvyn Rosenmen Levanthal, a Jewish civil rights lawyer. They were the first interracial couple to be married in Mississippi (they later divorced in 1976). Later in life, Alice Walker moved to Northern California near Mendocino where she currently resides.

She is a self-described “womanist” feminist, pacifist, and civil rights advocate. She has published numerous novels, short stories, essays, and other nonfiction, however The Color Purple , first published in 1982, remains her magnum opus . In more recent years, Alice Walker has drawn criticism for her controversial defense of antisemitic conspiracy theorists, including her outspoken defense of David Icke –a man who believes himself to be a spiritual messiah, that the earth has been hijacked by a reptilian race, that 9/11 was an orchestrated event by the United States government, that the horrors of the holocaust have been overstated, and other bizarre claims that have sadly gained traction among much of the broader United States population in recent years .

Walker, Alice. The Color Purple . Orlando, FL, Harcourt, Inc., 2003.

Click here to return to my survey of the Pulitzer Prize Winners.

Everything you need to know about The Color Purple

From left: Taraji P. Henson , Fantasia Barrino, and Danielle Brooks in The Color Purple

The Color Purple has had a fascinating journey through popular culture over the past four decades. Ever since Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel was published in 1982, the story of a young Black woman struggling to find her voice in the Deep South during the early 20th century has been like a magnet for talented creatives looking to put their own spin on the tale.

Steven Spielberg was the first to adapt the novel into a film, just three years after its publication, earning widespread acclaim and 11 Academy Award nominations (though it didn’t win any). In 2005, The Color Purple was turned into a Broadway musical, which received 10 Tony Award nominations in its initial run and picked up a few more after a successful revival in 2015. Now, a new movie based on that musical is set to be released on Christmas Day. Unsurprisingly, given the source material, it’s already inspiring enthusiastic reactions in preview screenings and building momentum as awards season gets fully under way.

With each iteration, The Color Purple has gained more fans and found renewed cultural relevance as each generation brings a fresh perspective to the story. What will the upcoming film add to the conversation? Who’s involved? How is it connected to the earlier versions? And what can audiences expect from the theatrical experience this time around? We’ve done our best to track down the answers to those questions, and more.

What’s it about?

Set in rural Georgia in the early 1900s, the story centers on a young Black woman named Celie (originally played by Whoopi Goldberg in her breakout film role), who grows up under the control of a physically and sexually abusive father but takes comfort in her close relationship with her sister, Nettie. Celie is forced to leave home, though, after an arranged marriage to another abusive man called Mister, who has grown children of his own. Despite the hardships of her new life, she eventually forms a connection with his headstrong daughter-in-law Sofia, and his mistress, a glamorous nightclub performer named Shug Avery. With the help and support of these women, Celie begins to find her own identity and learns how to stand up for herself.

Who’s in the cast?

American Idol winner Fantasia Barrino makes her feature-film debut in the lead role of Celie. She’s no stranger to the part, having played Celie on stage during the show’s original Broadway run. But Broadway fans are most hyped for Danielle Brooks, who received a Tony nomination for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for her performance as Sofia (she lost to Hamilton’s Renée Elise Goldsberry). Brooks found out she’d be cast in the role from none other than Oprah Winfrey herself, who played Sofia in the 1985 film. Winfrey is a producer on the new film, along with Spielberg, Quincy Jones, and Broadway producer Scott Sanders. You can watch Winfrey surprise Brooks with the exciting news in this clip.

The strong supporting cast includes Oscar nominee Taraji P. Henson as Shug, Tony nominee and Emmy Winner Colman Domingo as Mister, The Little Mermaid’s Halle Bailey as Nettie, Corey Hawkins as Harpo, and recording artist H.E.R. as Squeak. David Alan Grier, Jon Batiste, Elizabeth Marvel, Louis Gossett Jr., and Ciara also appear in featured roles.

Who directed it?

The film is directed by Blitz Bazawule, a 41-year-old filmmaker, musician, novelist and artist from Ghana. Bazawule wasn’t originally on the producers’ short list, but after he pitched his vision to Spielberg, Winfrey and the rest of the team in a virtual meeting he became the frontrunner. What really got them excited, Bazawule told The Wall Street Journal in an interview , was his concept of making Shug’s performances feel like the 1920s equivalent of a Beyoncé concert. And Bazawule should know, having co-directed Queen Bey herself in the feature-length visual album Black Is King. Spielberg called the pitch “visual magic” and said, “It made the choice to engage him on this the easiest choice we made when the project got under way.”

Bazawule, sometimes known as Blitz the Ambassador, made his feature debut with the critically acclaimed Afrofuturist film The Burial of Kojo. He’s also recorded four albums and written a book, The Scent of Burnt Flowers, which is set to be adapted into a six-episode TV miniseries for FX.

Taraji P. Henson and Fantasia Barrino with director Blitz Bazawule

How closely does this film follow other versions of The Color Purple?

As Winfrey put it, in the most Oprah way possible, this is “not your mama’s Color Purple, but your mama’s gonna love it, too.” The screenplay, written by Marcus Gardley, weaves in elements from the book, the original film, and the stage version in a synthesis of all previous versions of the story. The new film brings back the Oscar-nominated song “Miss Celie’s Blues,” sung by Shug in the 1985 film but not used in the Broadway adaptation, and eliminates other numbers and reprises from the stage show. The new film also includes original numbers by Bazawule, cast member Halle Bailey, songwriting duo Nova Wav, and Alicia Keys.

Who else is involved?

Joining director Bazawule behind the camera is a deep roster of acclaimed below-the-line talent, including Oscar-nominated director of photography Dan Laustsen (Nightmare Alley, The Shape Of Water), Oscar-winning production designer Paul Denham Austerberry (The Shape Of Water), editor Jon Poll (Meet The Parents), costume designer Francine Jamison-Tanchuck (Glory, One Night In Miami...) and choreographer Fatima Robinson (Dreamgirls). Oscar-nominated composer Kris Bowers (King Richard, Green Book) also worked on the musical score.

What are the early reactions to The Color Purple?

Those who have already seen the film have been effusive about its success as a musical and optimistic about its potential to score more than a few Oscar nominations. The A.V. Club contributor Courtney Howard called it a “rapturous musical” buoyed by “powerhouses” Barrino and Brooks, while film critic Scott Menzel said , “This bold and fresh new take on the Alice Walker novel pays homage to the original film as well as the broadway musical while still standing out on its own.” Scott Mendelson, box office analyst at Puck News, also praised it as, “a showstopper of a high order.”

Meanwhile, film critic Valerie Complex hinted that this version may be the first adaptation not to downplay the queer aspects of Celie and Shug’s relationship as depicted in Walker’s novel. “Add it to the queer movies of 2023 list,” she wrote on social media. “Three performances bout to shake up your Oscar Ballots. This movie about to make a lot of $.”

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From left: Taraji P. Henson , Fantasia Barrino, and Danielle Brooks in The Color Purple

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The color purple: It's a new movie and an old hue that's rich in meaning and history

La premiere of "the color purple".

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NEW YORK (AP) — "I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it,” Shug tells Celie in Alice Walker 's “The Color Purple.”

In nature, among the priestly and royal , as a symbol of independence, pride and magic, purple is weighty in history and culture. Now, with the Christmas Day opening of the second film based on Walker's 1982 book, purple takes a seat at the box office after the historic popularity of “Barbie” and all things pink.

Consider it a many-layered cultural counterpart to its frothier cousin.

Power, ambition, luxury. Purple reflects them all. It also expresses creativity, independence, pride, peace, mystery and magic.

In contemporary history and fiction, it often represents something sought dearly. In the early 20th century, purple attire and signage signified loyalty and dignity among the suffragists . In Walker's novel, Celie, the main character, wants a pair of purple shoes but can't afford them, so she settles on blue.

Oprah Winfrey, who played Sofia in the 1985 film version of “The Color Purple,” has donned purple frequently to promote the new musical she helped produce. And she wore a purple taffeta gown by Christian Siriano in her recently unveiled portrait for the National Portrait Gallery.

To Oprah, purple is “seminal.” To others, it's a shapeshifter, said Laurie Pressman, vice president of the Pantone Color Institute, which analyzes and consults on color, including for the folks who made this year's "The Color Purple."

“It can take on so many contexts,” Pressman said. “It's a color that stands out, that makes a statement, that has a singular presence in the world.”

Some ways to think about purple, the hues nestled between blue and red:

PURPLE, THE DYE

The Romans conquered the Greeks in the second century B.C. and returned home with lots of pigments and dyes, writes Victoria Finlay in “The Brilliant History of Color in Art.” The most celebrated was “purpura,” which turned into a fashion phenom made with secretions of certain mollusks. The liquid transformed into purple when left out in the sun.

When Julius Caesar traveled to Egypt in 48 B.C. and met Queen Cleopatra, he noted her love of purple and embraced it himself. It's a love later taken up by Byzantine emperors. But before them, Caesar decreed that only Caesars could wear togas dyed completely purple.

Many, MANY mollusks were required to make purpura, which sometimes wasn't the color we know today. Finlay wrote that at least 250,000 were needed for half an ounce of dye. Ancient Tyrian purple, named for the town of Tyre in what is now southern Lebanon, was also rose, bluish red or velvety black, she writes.

Purple was reserved for royalty, priests and nobles at various times in history and in various places.

By the 14th century, the secrets of Tyrian purple were lost, according to the University of Chicago Library's 2007 exhibition “The Origins of Color.” But all hail Tyrian purple! In 2001, through trial and error, the technique for making it resurfaced. Well before then, synthetic dyes, including purple, were available.

PURPLE, IN SONG

Prince's “Purple Rain.” Jimi Hendrix's “Purple Haze.” Juice WRLD's “Purple Devil.” The rockers Deep Purple. The Grammy-winning song “Deep Purple,” a No. 1 Billboard single for April Stevens and her brother, Nino Tempo, in 1963.

Purple has been peppering songs for decades, but no musical artist has been more closely aligned with the color than Prince. He became The Purple One after he and his band, the Revolution, put out “Purple Rain” in 1984 and a won a Grammy for it, along with an Oscar for the score to the companion film.

Though the song peaked at No. 2 on Billboard's Hot 100 in 1984, it forever connected Prince with the color. And he leaned in with his purple attire, purple guitar and purple piano. After his 2016 death, his estate worked with Pantone to come up with an official Prince purple , dubbed “Love Symbol #2.”

Of the song's meaning and title, Prince once explained: “When there’s blood in the sky … red and blue equals purple. Purple rain pertains to the end of the world and being with the one you love and letting your faith/God guide you through the purple rain.”

Prince's Paisley Park estate outside Minneapolis remains bathed in purple at night.

In creating a world in sound, “purple doesn't have as clear a set of connotations” as some other colors, like the sadness of blue or the rage of red, said Nate Sloane, who specializes in the history of popular music and jazz at the University of Southern California's Thornton School of Music.

For musical artists, he said, that's freedom.

“Its ambiguity means you can explore more emotions and concepts that are less clear and established,” Sloane said.

PURPLE, THE PROSE

The term “purple prose” stretches back to circa 18 B.C. and the “Ars Poetica” of Horace, according to Charles Harrington Elster in his 2005 book, “What in the Word?”

A phrase Horace used, the Latin “purpureus pannus,” denoted an irrelevant and excessively ornate passage. Literally, it's a purple garment or raiment (think fancy). Horace's 476-line poem, a manual of sorts on how to write poetry, warns against “mediocrity in poets no man, god or bookseller will accept.”

Generally speaking, purple prose came to mean writing that is laden with flowery descriptors and/or an oppressive structure with no real payoff to a reader. Consider this: Many writers of the 19th century were paid by the number of words they used or pages they produced.

“Purple prose doesn’t seem to have become wholly pejorative until the 20th century when steep declines in the vocabulary and reading comprehension of college-educated Americans caused a panic in the education establishment and the newspaper industry,” Elster wrote.

A blog post from the publishing site Reedsy offers this made-up example: “The mahogany-haired adolescent girl glanced fleetingly at her rugged paramour, a crystalline sparkle in her eyes as she gazed, enraptured, upon his countenance.”

PURPLE, ON CANVAS

Monet, Chagall, Derain, Rothko, Matisse, Klimt. All were admirers of purple.

The color is said to have first surfaced in art during the Neolithic era, writes Hannah Foskett at the site Arts & Collections . The pre-Raphaelites in Britain especially loved purple.

Monet stands out for his use of violet in his Lily, Haystack, Snow and Rouen Cathedral series of paintings.

Another interpretation of purple, Foskett writes, is that it tires the eyes, “often symbolizing lust or sorrow in major artworks.”

Color, in visual art, was helped along by the American portrait painter John Goffe Rand. In the 1840s, he invented a collapsible tube of tin in which to put his paint, rather than the pig bladders he and his counterparts had been struggling with for years, according to Finlay. With the invention of paint tubes, there were suddenly dozens of new pigments, including manganese violet.

“It was the first opaque, pure, affordable, mauve-colored pigment,” wrote Finlay, “and it was seen as a wonder.”

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IMAGES

  1. Colors of the Week: Purple Mini Book for Early Readers

    book report on the color purple

  2. Because I Told You So: Book Report: "The Color Purple"

    book report on the color purple

  3. 'The Color Purple': Whoopi Goldberg Cameo Explained

    book report on the color purple

  4. The Color Purple

    book report on the color purple

  5. The Color Purple

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  6. Pages from Guided Reading Book Report Printable Pack-2

    book report on the color purple

COMMENTS

  1. The Color Purple Summary

    The Color Purple. "The Color Purple" is a 1982 novel written by Alice Walker. The novel is told in an epistolary style, through the usage of 90 different letters written by the characters. In 1983, the book won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award for Fiction. Several years later in 1985, it was adapted into a critically ...

  2. The Color Purple

    The Color Purple, novel by Alice Walker, published in 1982. It won a Pulitzer Prize in 1983, making Walker the first African American woman to win a Pulitzer for fiction. A feminist work about an abused and uneducated African American woman's struggle for empowerment, The Color Purple was praised for the depth of its female characters and for its eloquent use of Black English Vernacular.

  3. The Color Purple Review: A Well-Told Powerful Story

    The Color Purple is an epistolary novel. It is interesting how Alice Walker uses just letter writing to develop her characters and effectively depict events in a way that readers would experience it all as they read. Epistolary storytelling is a style that requires creative genius and Alice Walker leaves no doubt about her ingenuity in this novel.

  4. The Color Purple

    The Color Purple. by Alice Walker. Publication Date: April 1, 1990. Genres: Fiction. Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages. Publisher: Pocket. ISBN-10: 0671727796. ISBN-13: 9780671727796. Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is the story of Celie, a young girl abused by her father and then married off to a violent and angry man.

  5. Book Summary

    Book Summary. Alice Walker's The Color Purple weaves an intricate mosaic of women joined by their love for each other, the men who abuse them, and the children they care for. In the first few letters, Celie tells God that she has been raped by her father and that she is pregnant for the second time with his child.

  6. The Color Purple by Alice Walker Plot Summary

    The Color Purple Summary. Next. Letter 1. Celie, a young girl who lives with her abusive father, her sick mother, and her younger sister Nettie, begins writing letters to God. In her first letters, she details how her father has been sexually abusing her. Celie becomes pregnant twice, and each time her father gives away the children.

  7. The Color Purple by Alice Walker

    Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is the story of Celie, a young girl abused by her father and then married off to a violent and angry man. She maintains her dignity and strength through her relationship with Shug, a flamboyant blues singer who is having an affair with Celie's husband. With Shug's love comes great courage, and Celie finds a new person inside herself, awaiting bloom.

  8. The Color Purple Study Guide

    The Color Purple is a book by Alice Walker. The Color Purple study guide contains a biography of Alice Walker, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis. The Color Purple is an epistolary novel by Alice Walker. The Color Purple literature essays are academic essays for citation.

  9. The Color Purple Study Guide

    Key Facts about The Color Purple. Full Title: The Color Purple. When Written: 1981-82. Where Written: New York City. When Published: 1982. Literary Period: postmodernism in America. Genre: Epistolary novel; the 20th-century African-American novel; 20th-century feminist writing. Setting: Georgia and coastal Africa, roughly 1920-1950.

  10. The Color Purple

    The Color Purple is a 1982 epistolary novel by American author Alice Walker that won the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award for Fiction.. The novel has been the target of censors numerous times, and appears on the American Library Association list of the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2000-2010 at number seventeen because of the sometimes explicit content ...

  11. The Color Purple Plot Summary

    The Color Purple has a powerful plot that touches on love, family, identity, surviving trauma and abuse, and many other social issues.It is a story that delights as much as it horrifies. "Spoiler-Free" Summary. Celie's mother's health deteriorates after her last childbirth, and she begins to deny the character of Alphonso, her husband, sex.. Alphonso begins to molest and rape Celie and ...

  12. The Color Purple by Alice Walker

    The Color Purple is Alice Walker's best-known work. It is the third novel written by Alice Walker and it won her a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1983 and a National Book Award for Fiction also in 1983. According to Walker, The Color Purple is a manifestation of her desire to bring to the human consciousness the evils of division across gender ...

  13. The Color Purple Summary

    The Color Purple is an epistolary novel, made up of letters written by Celie to God and by Nettie to Celie. At the start of the novel, Celie is a fourteen-year-old, vulnerable, abused black girl who addresses her letters to "Dear God.". Thirty years later, at the end of the novel, she has forged her own life despite a male-dominated and ...

  14. Book Review: "The Color Purple" by Alice Walker

    TL;DR: Year of Publication: 1982 Genre: Literary Classic (Historical Fiction) Summary: LA powerful cultural touchstone of modern American literature, The Color Purple depicts the lives of African American women in early twentieth-century rural Georgia. Separated as girls, sisters Celie and Nettie sustain their loyalty to and hope in each other across time, distance and silence.

  15. The Color Purple Book Review

    The Color Purple also chronicles a woman's inspiring journey from abuse to independence and self-actualization. The novel was a bestseller when it came out in 1982, has continued to sell well ever since, and is sometimes assigned in high school, although it has been the consistent target of censors due to its mature content, which includes sex ...

  16. Untangling the Legacy of The Color Purple

    Abrams Press, 256 pp., $26.00. The film version of The Color Purple (1985) largely excised the lesbian relationship at the center of Alice Walker's Pulitzer prize-winning novel. Steven ...

  17. The Color Purple by Alice Walker

    By Alice Walker. 'The Color Purple' by Alice Walker is a great novel with powerful stories and themes that are relevant across continents and generations. The novel also has inspirational symbols like the phrase of the title which symbolizes beauty in nature. Alice Walker tells a great story and teaches numerous lessons in The Color Purple.

  18. 1983 Pulitzer Prize Review: The Color Purple by Alice Walker

    The Color Purple is epistolary in style -it is told through a series of letters written by Celie, a young black girl living in the South during the 1930s. At the outset, The Color Purple is dedicated to the "Spirit." It opens with a Stevie Wonder quotation and ends with the author, Alice Walker, thanking us readers for coming along on this journey.

  19. The Color Purple: A Novel

    Read the original inspiration for the new, boldly reimagined film from producers Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg, starring Taraji P. Henson, Danielle Brooks, and Fantasia Barrino.Celebrating its fortieth anniversary, The Color Purple writes a message of healing, forgiveness, self-discovery, and sisterhood to a new generation of readers. An inspiration to authors who continue to give voice ...

  20. Everything you need to know about The Color Purple

    The Color Purple has had a fascinating journey through popular culture over the past four decades. Ever since Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel was published in 1982, the story of a ...

  21. The color purple: It's a new movie and an old hue that's rich in

    Phylicia Pearl Mpasi, a cast member in "The Color Purple," poses at the premiere of the film at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2023, in Los Angeles.