This week’s must read for women
This modern day literary classic narrates the story about the plight and violence experienced by African American women in Georgia. It’s a 1982 epistolary novel that received the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award for Fiction.
Taking place mostly in rural Georgia, the story focuses on Celie, a young black woman, and her life during the 1930s in the Southern United States, addressing the numerous issues including their exceedingly low position in American social culture.
Celie, the protagonist and narrator of The Color Purple, is a poor, uneducated, fourteen year-old black girl living in rural Georgia. Celie starts writing letters to God because her father, Alphonso, beats and rapes her. Alphonso has already impregnated Celie once. Celie gave birth to a girl, whom her father stole and presumably killed in the woods. Celie has a second child, a boy, whom her father also steals. Celie’s mother becomes seriously ill and dies. Alphonso brings home a new wife but continues to abuse Celie.
Celie and her bright, pretty younger sister, Nettie, learn that a man known only as Mr. wants to marry Nettie. Mr. has a mistress named Shug Avery, a sultry lounge singer whose photograph fascinates Celie. Alphonso refuses to let Nettie marry, and instead offers Mr. the “ugly” Celie as a bride. Mr. eventually accepts the offer, and takes Celie into a difficult and joyless married life. Nettie runs away from Alphonso and takes refuge at Celie’s house. Mr. still desires Nettie, and when he advances on her she flees for her own safety. Never hearing from Nettie again, Celie assumes she is dead.