Alice Walker’s epistolary novel first published in 1982 went on to win the National Book Award and a Pulitzer Prize. Although I’m always abit cynical about award winning books but here when I started to read it you realise why this book has been so popular with many people.
Celia who initially writes letters to God as she tries to get things off her chest, but throughout the novel we find that she starts instead to write to her sister Nettie so we read letters from both of them.
The novel deal with so many themes and strong subjects from racism to homosexuality with so much humanity, the characters truly breathe out of the book, also the characters are continuously evolving as they grow older throughout the span of decades.
One thing that really got me was the determination and resilience of Celie, she starts as a very naive and innocent young girl who remains faithful and resilient during so many adversities but her ultimate display of strength lies in her forgiveness to both her life and the people who did her wrong.
Celie is abused emotionally and physically by her mother and beaten and raped by her ‘pa’. She ultimately becomes pregnant twice during this incestuous sexual abuse phase, and both of her babies are taken away from her. Celie lives with the thought that the babies were killed but one day she comes across a little girl who looks just like her,growing up in a comparatively well off family. In the mean time her mother dies and her father marries another woman.
Nettie her younger sister gets involved with a much older widower and he wants to marry Nettie but her father marries off celie to him, where again she goes through similar cycle of physical and sexual abuse, not to mention she takes care of the kids and house but one day her husband brings his mistress home, Shug Avery, and celie falls in love with her(yep a LGBTQ rep), Avery is potrayed as a strong beautiful woman who do her own thing, has her own money, she is her own master and celie looks up to her,also one more character I would like to mention is Celi’s stepson’s wife Sofia, who is again a very strong woman who beats her husband in return If he hits her, ask for what she wants although rather impulsive but is definitely one of my favourite characters in the whole book. Nettie meanwhile runaways and has gone to Africa with a family who are missionaries, although she writes to celie throughout the years but her letters don’t get to her sister for decades, but through her letters we get to know some of the local African cultures and lifestyle and her life as a missionary there. There is also a family secret and racially motivated lynching.
Over all the book is amazing and it’s so sad to think about how much people has to go through just because of the amount of melanin in their skin. The novel’s deal with so many themes and strong subjects from racism to homosexuality but they are potrayed with so much humanity, the characters truly breathe out of the book, also the characters are continuously evolving as they grow older throughout the years
The thing that really comes through though is arguably the determination and resilience of Celie as we see how she progresses through the ups and downs of life, bringing up a string of emotions in the reader.