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The Color Purple ()

Pulitzer Prize (Fiction) (1983)

I liked this 1983 Pulitzer Prize & American Book Award winner an awful lot more than I thought I would. It is quite possibly the greatest piece of black lesbian fiction I have ever read, or ever will read. & there's the rub... There's something weirdly comforting to a straight white male in this portrait of black lesbian women.

First, there are virtually no white's in the book. So it's possible to view all of the characters problems as purely black people problems. White's can't be guilty for the conditions the characters live in, since whites are nonexistent in the book.

Second, Celie is sort of forced into lesbianism by the beastly behavior of the men in her life. Shug is the only person who's ever been decent to her (other than her sister). Again this is a concept that a male can feel comfortable with; lesbians haven't consciously turned away from men, they are just overwhelmed by them. There's a certain docility that's central to this thesis which confirms 50, 000 years of chauvinism. (On the other side of the coin, homosexuality is repellent because it reflects male surrender to women & subjugation by other men.)

So, I like the book, but I'm pretty sure I don't like it for the right reasons, more for the "Right" reasons.


Grade: (B+)


Alice Walker Links:
-REVIEW: of In Search of the Color Purple: The Story of an American Masterpiece by Salamishah Tillet (Jennifer Wilson, New Republic)

Book-related and General Links:
    -Anniinna's Alice Walker Page
    -REVIEW: Robert Towers: Good Men Are Hard to Find, NY Review of Books
                          The Terrible Twos by Ishmael Reed
                          The Color Purple by Alice Walker
    -REVIEW: Darryl Pinckney: Black Victims, Black Villains, NY Review of Books
                          The Color Purple by Alice Walker
                          The Color Purple a film by Steven Spielberg
                          Reckless Eyeballing by Ishmael Reed
    -ESSAY: The Color Purple and the State of Literary Criticism  (Rick Clewett)