“You better not never tell nobody but God. It’d kill your mammy.”
These words are spoken by the stepfather of Celie who warns her not to tell anybody but God after he rapes her and presumably kills her two children. This is how The Color Purple begins – as a series of letters written by Celie, aged 14, to God after getting impregnated by her abusive stepfather. Alice doesn’t give a trigger warning to the readers about the upcoming nightmarish abuse, just the way Celie was introduced to it. After getting married off to Mr._______, Celie builds relationships with other black women, especially those who are abused and oppressed. Will Celie, a poor, uneducated black woman, succumb to the circumstances and accept her fate or raise her voice against the injustice and stand for herself?
The letters, undated, are written in black folk language, which makes it seem that one can almost hear Celie speak. She writes the way she speaks and thinks. It is not easy to read but it forms a bond between the protagonist and the reader. There are huge gaps between the letters which is not informed to the reader therefore, one should read it with close attention. The reader grows with Celie and her quiet, budding strength, in which Shug, her husband’s mistress, plays a major role. Celie also forms a sexual relationship with Shug.
“It all I can do not to cry. I make myself wood. I say to myself, Celie, you a tree. That’s how come I know trees fear man.”
The reader also turns to wood as the novel progresses, disappointed but not surprised, at the abuse the women go through.
I would suggest you to read aloud as many as Celie’s letters as possible, it’ll bring you closer to Celie and understand her better. The Color Purple is ultimately an elevating story about a black woman’s journey toward self-discovery and happiness. To be sure, this novel isn’t for the faint of heart but if you can muster up the courage, read it, for though there’s abuse, rape and oppression, there’s also hope, growth, and strength and above all, love. Love of all kinds.