Alice Walker’s soul-stirring novel “The Color Purple” depicted the lives of African-American women living in the Deep South In the early 1900s. The book won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction on April 18, 1983, making Walker the first Black woman to win the award.
The book focuses primarily on the life of Celie, a young girl who suffers extreme emotional and physical abuse by her father Alphonso, who also impregnates her with a son and daughter but takes them away from her. The father then forces Celie into an abusive and loveless marriage to a man named Mister, continuing her plight. Over time, Celie gains wisdom and insight, eventually fighting back against Mister with the help of his mistress, jazz singer Shug Avery, and finally leaving him.
Celie falls in love with Shug, but the singer gets into a relationship with a band member and leaves her behind but continues to write her. The book ends on a bittersweet note after Celie reconnects with her sister, Nettie, and discovers that her children Adam and Olivia, are adults who have made something of their lives despite their harsh beginnings. Celie and Shug also reconnect after the singer leaves the band mate, Germaine.
“The Color Purple” was adapted into a feature film in 1985 directed by Steven Spielberg. Whoopi Goldberg played Celie alongside Danny Glover and Margaret Avery, (who most recently played Mary Jane’s mother on the BET show “Being Mary Jane.) as Shug. The film is notable for Oprah Winfrey’s film debut as Sophia. The book was also adapted into a Broadway musical and its revival won a Tony Award in 2016.
Because of its content, “The Color Purple” has been consistently challenged and banned by libraries across the nation, drawing criticism for its harsh depiction of Black men. However, it has endured as one of Walker’s most-read works.
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