The Color Purple Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:
This detailed literature summary also contains Bibliography and a Free Quiz on The Color Purple by Alice Walker.
The Color Purple, Alice Walker's third novel, was published in 1982. The novel brought fame and financial success to its author. It also won her considerable praise and much criticism for its controversial themes. Many reviewers were disturbed by her portrayal of black males, which they found unduly negative. When the novel was made into a film in 1985 by Steven Spielberg, Walker became even more successful and controversial. While she was criticized for negative portrayal of her male characters, Walker was admired for her powerful portraits of black women. Reviewers praised her for her use of the epistolary form, in which written correspondence between characters comprises the content of the book, and her ability to use black folk English. Reflecting her early political interests as a civil rights worker during the 1960s, many of her social views are expressed in the novel. In The Color Purple, as in her other writings, Walker focuses on the theme of double repression of black women in the American experience. Walker contends that black women suffer from discrimination by the white community, and from a second repression from black males, who impose the double standard of white society on women. As the civil rights movement helped shape Ms. Walker's thinking regarding racial issues at home, it also shaped her interest in Africa. During the 1960s, a strong interest in ethnic and racial identity stimulated many African Americans to look for their roots in Africa. The primary theme of The Color Purple, though, reflects Walker's desire to project a positive outcome in life, even under the harshest conditions. Her central character triumphs over adversity and forgives those who oppressed her. This central theme of the triumph of good over evil is no doubt the source of the book' s great success.
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Summary of The Color Purple Essay
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Alice Walker's The Color Purple is a touching story of one African American woman's journey through abuse and oppression to finding her own voice and self-worth as well as definite place in the world around her. The novel is written in an epistolary format and has a very confessional and emotionally raw tone. Through using this format, Walker has more freedom to weave an impressive network of heartfelt themes and colorful characters, in addition to displaying her talents for delivering to her readers an addictive and suspenseful plot. The story opens with a hideous sexual crime against Celie, the fourteen-year-old protagonist of The Color Purple. Having being raped by Pa, the man that she knows as her father, she becomes pregnant…show more content…
The man, who is known to Celie as Mr.____, is convinced and he and Celie are wed. The marriage leads Celie to Mr._____'s home and to his children. He abuses her and despises her for no apparent reason. Although Celie is thoroughly depressed now, her life improves slightly when Nettie runs away from Pa and comes to live with Celie. Unfortunately, Mr.______ still has feelings for Nettie and often tries to win her admiration. Soon comes the day when Nettie realizes that she must leave. She leaves Celie saying "I sure hate to leave you here with these rotten children... Not to mention with Mr._____. It's like seeing you buried" (Walker 17). The two sisters make a vow to write and stay in touch, and Nettie leaves with the intention to work for the wife of the reverend in town. Nettie never writes to Celie. Life is slow after Nettie leaves. There are gaps between letters for the first time in the novel. Time passes and Harpo, the eldest son of Mr._____ grows up and impregnates and marries Sofia, a beautiful and strong girl from town. Harpo tries to dominate Sofia the same way that his father dominates Celie, but Sofia fights back. Eventually she gets fed up and leaves Harpo to go live with her sister Odessa and her husband Jack. Although Celie is sad that Sofia is gone, she soon is happy again when she learns that Shug Avery, who was the mistress of Mr._____ for many years, is coming to live with her husband and her. Shug, a vibrant and talented singer who has recently